While many people feel like they’re winding down in life once they hit the age of seventy, Carolyn Baker is ramping up.
And she credits the Whole Life Challenge for this.
Carolyn Baker signed up for her first Whole Life Challenge this spring because she wanted more balance in her life — at the age of 75. A self-proclaimed workaholic, the Denver, Colorado, native continues to work full-time running an architectural design business.
As a result of her busy schedule, Carolyn found herself forgetting to pay attention to things like meal planning preparation, stretching, and mobility. “I ate pretty well most of the time, but I travel a lot and would forget to plan, so I’d find myself starving at the airport, eating Ramen noodles or a hot dog,” she said.
She knew her son Jonathan and his wife Sarah (pictured together below) had seen great results participating in the Challenge, so Carolyn decided to join their team and give it a go.
What Surprised Carolyn Baker About Healthy Eating
The first thing Carolyn did was throw away all the non-compliant Challenge foods she had in her house. “It’s amazing how many [products] have sugar in them. I pretty much cleaned out my whole pantry,” she said.
Then she devoted herself to meal planning and preparing healthy meals in advance, which was made much easier with her daughter-in-law’s help.
“Sarah has been really big into nutrition for a while and she has developed all these wonderful recipes for eating well. They’re amazing,” said Carolyn. “I started discovering all these new herbs and seasonings with Sarah’s recipes, and have been making some wonderful meatballs with chimichurri sauce, and beef fillets, and some shrimp dishes that are so easy. I have been eating all this delicious, gourmet food that’s healthy,” she said.
Within just a couple weeks, this way of preparing food started to feel normal to her. “It quickly became just part of my routine to shop ahead and get recipes from Sarah to make things ahead of time, and to have when I’m traveling,” she said.
She noticed a difference in her energy levels pretty much right away.
“I just feel amazing. And I love running into people who tell me I look like I have even more energy than ever, which is dangerous because I have always been a bound of energy,” Carolyn said. “But I will say, at the start of the Challenge, I might have felt a bit more like I’m 75, but now I certainly don’t.”
An Amazing Result: Gaining Strength and Confidence
This renewed energy has also given her the confidence to attempt physical tasks she would have shied away from in the past, she explained. “I just feel stronger. Just yesterday, I lifted something heavy and my business partner and I both laughed. Before, I would have asked him to lift it for me, but now it didn’t even feel heavy.”
She credits this to her commitment to exercise: she walks every day, frequently rides her bike, and even bought a set of weights and started lifting at home.
“I just have so much more confidence now. I was so scared to do things before because all my friends are falling all over the place these days. I used to walk up the stairs because I was scared of falling, and now I run up and down the stairs,” she said.
Stretching for fifteen minutes in the morning and doing some yoga was another area Carolyn reaped big benefits. She used to have a lot of stiffness in her neck, lower back and legs, and said she thinks the daily stretching has helped these symptoms disappear.
It’s Not Just About Food and Exercise
By the end of the Challenge, Carolyn was down twelve pounds and found herself fitting into clothes she hadn’t worn in a long time.
“I’m so excited. I can now wear my size 10 dresses and trousers I didn’t think I’d ever wear again,” said Carolyn, who at 5-foot-8 weighs 158 pounds. What’s even more exciting to her, though, is that she feels the habits she created during the Challenge will become the way she lives her life permanently.
“I tried so many diets in the past — the South Beach diet, the cabbage soup diet — and none of them were sustainable. This is so sustainable. Once you get it figured out, it just becomes easy,” she said.
The various well-being and lifestyle components of the Challenge played a big role in solidifying these habits, she explained. “I wake up every day and have a journal next to my bed, and I write down what I’m grateful for, and for me that’s the most wonderful way to wake up,” she said.
“And I also loved going electronic-free for meals. [Before] I was eating alone. I used to just grab my phone and answer texts or emails or whatever. …I went telephone-free the whole Challenge and it has been wonderful. I think it helps me enjoy my food a lot more, too.”
The New Normal for Carolyn Baker
Though the Challenge just ended, not much is going to change back in her lifestyle according to Carolyn.
“The only thing I might do is have maybe something once a week that isn’t compliant,” she said. Then she’ll get right back at it. Carolyn has already committed herself to doing the next Whole Life Challenge to reestablish the habits she learned the first time.
And she intends to participate again and again after that because, as she said, “I knew it would be a good experience, but I had no idea it would be so transformative.”