Taking control of her life

Apr 16, 2015
Ashley Ann Lawrie


In March 2014, Karen Benell said a final farewell to her mother.

It’s the kind of watershed moment that can make you take a hard look at your life. Karen’s mother had been plagued by a host of health problems aggravated by her lifestyle choices – high blood pressure, lupus, diabetes, Crohn’s Disease.

For Karen, in her late 40s, it was a wake up call.

“I stepped on the scale and I was the heaviest I had ever been,” she said. “I realized I had to fix this.”

Karen had always been active in her life and enjoyed running. But then she hit 40. A sedentary desk job and too much time in front of the TV and computer took its toll.

“I got complacent and put a little weight on each year,” she said.

A few years ago, Karen met the FFF team at a golf tournament. She joined the newsletter mailing list for tips and advice on health and nutrition, and to read the success stories of its clients. But it wasn’t until her mother passed away that she finally made the decision to come in the door.

Nutrition was a big challenge—too much processed food with low nutritional value had conspired with the stress in her life to add the pounds.

Despite her newfound fitness regimen, Karen struggled to lose the weight she wanted. But about six months into her training, two things happened. First, she had an operation to repair an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her knee that had been limiting her mobility. Second, she made a very personal choice and separated from her spouse of over 27 years.

“I made a commitment then to take better care of myself and put myself first,” she said.

Free and empowered to make serious changes in her life, Karen adopted the healthy eating habits she needed to make a real difference in how she looked and felt. Over the next six months, she lost 35 pounds toward her goal of 40.

“It’s easy to stay on track with what I eat because I have control now,” she said.

Karen hits the gym three times a week. She loves the routine of having scheduled appointments to keep her accountable.

“It’s so easy because you’ve got that appointment and its just part of your day, like taking a shower or having lunch.”

Karen isn’t content with just losing weight. It’s important to always have new goals to push against. For this spring and summer, she has signed up for The Ottawa Race Weekend’s 10-kilometre race and the annual Army Run half-marathon.

“I go for a run now and I feel awesome,” she said. “I’m not struggling to get it done.”

The support and expert guidance of her Free Form Fitness personal trainers have been crucial at every step.

“You think you know what you are doing, but then something pulls or hurts, and your personal trainer shows you what you are doing wrong and how to adjust,” Karen said. “They know how to help you push your limits without hurting yourself. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

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