AVONPORT, N.S. – Carolyn Walsh looks at an old four-by-six photograph depicting her at her heaviest.
The image shows a woman propped in a chair, her hands folded on her lap and her body almost completely covered by a long, white dress flowing down to her ankles.
The warm smile looks familiar, but Walsh often hears that the person in the photo is hardly recognizable today. She posed for the picture at a time when she weighed in at about 300 pounds.
“I could barely move,” she said during a recent interview at her Avonport home.
“For years I couldn’t do a thing because I was so heavy and then it just kept getting worse and worse.”
She traces the origins of her decades-long battle with obesity back to the births of her two sons more than 50 years ago. She gained triple the pregnancy weight than what was originally predicted and struggled to lose it for years after her kids were born.
She’d start a diet, stick with it for six months or so, fall off the wagon and end up gaining more than she lost by the end of it.
“That went on for years until I got so bad that I could barely move so, really, it was a question of do or die – one of the two,” she recalled.
The 73-year-old has dropped more than 100 pounds in the past three years, last weighing in at about 180 pounds some time ago.
She committed to a diet recommended by Dr. Mark Pennell in Wolfville – no sugar, no salt, no flour, no junk food, no fried food.
“I never looked back once I started it,” she said.
The transition period was fraught with ups and downs, both in on the scale and in life.
“I just persevere and keep going,” she said with a smile.
“It was depressing. I had fluid and I’d be doing it like I was supposed to, go to the doctor, get weighed and it would show I gained. I’d get upset about it… but after a while it leveled off and it was better.”
She started walking three to four times a day and doing some exercise to improve her mobility at home. She bought recipe books that cater to her prescribed diet and learned about proper portion control practices.
“You have to change your whole way of eating,” she said.
Walsh freely admits there have been roadblocks throughout her weight-loss journey. She’s had a knee operated on, undergone two cataract surgeries and she’s ensured complications due to osteoarthritis.
None of it’s ideal but it’s not a deal-breaker, either. Faith, family and fortitude help her stay on track.
“When I’m going, I’m going!,” she exclaimed with a laugh.
“I’m walking right along.”
She’s gone from a size 46 to a petite large, and she couldn’t be more pleased with her results.
“I’m just so happy to be alive,” she said.
Walsh hopes her story might serve as a source of inspiration for others striving to make similar life-altering lifestyle changes.
“If it could help anybody, I’d be happy,” she said.
“Don’t give up. Keep going because there’s better days ahead and you’ll feel so much better and have so much more energy to do things. It’s not always easy, but nothing in life is.”