By Cheryl Conway
Like a good book, a reader cannot stop flipping the pages to see what happens next.
The same story goes for this Hackettstown woman who has started her next chapter. At the age of 64, Arlene P. is on her way to better health both physically and mentally.
In April, she signed up for a new program – Your Next Chapter- with her life coach/ trainer Denise Washington, also of Hackettstown. This new venture aims at helping women aged 60 and over live their best life.
“I can feel my breathing and my heart healthier already,” says Arlene. She decided to sign up for the six-month program “to get healthy; to feel better; to start a new journey of healthy and happy living.”
As any human would agree, life is filled with changes and ups and downs. Many times, a person gets off track and needs some redirection toward healthier solutions.
Faced with divorce, death of her father, injury and COVID, Arlene needed that redirect.
“I knew I needed to do something; I just needed the push,” she says.
“In my 20’s, I was very skinny,” says Arlene. She got married in 1990; had three daughters in 1991, 1994 and 1995; gained a little weight then lost it.
In 2011, she got divorced at the age of 51.
To deal with these changes in her life she started walking and hiking, but that halted when she faced a foot injury in 2016 which left her unable to walk.
“I used to walk from my house to my mom and dad’s house, about three miles away,” she explains. “I just couldn’t do it anymore.
“It was very painful,” she says. She went for physical therapy for three months after being diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, which is caused by a lot of walking in high heels.
“Then my dad got very sick,” says Arlene. She spent a lot of time visiting him at a nursing home in Hackettstown before he died in 2016 at the age of 91.
By the end of 2016, Arlene began to “veg and stress.” She admits her way to cope with stress was to eat.
When COVID hit in 2020, Arlene’s motivation weakened.
“COVID hit me,” says Arlene. “Working from home didn’t help either.”
At first, her company anticipated only two weeks of working remote, but that ended up being years, she says. Arlene works as a client relationship specialist for a financial advisor. During COVID she was fully remote.
“You’d go in once in a while, but now it’s three times a week,” she says, with a one-hour commute each way. “Have to get used to it again.”
She says she was “physically and emotionally tired. I knew what I needed to do to get healthy but just couldn’t do it on my own.”
Continues Arlene, “I was tired and out of shape. I’d like to lose 25 to 30 pounds.” Although her pants size has not changed, she says she was wearing larger tops.
“I had been thinking for a long time I needed to do something,” says Arlene. She says she was “upset with the way clothes fit, lack of energy. I knew I needed to exercise to get healthy again.
“I knew what I needed to do; I just couldn’t do it on my own,” she says. “I needed someone to push me.”
Arlene Meets Life Coach
Arlene met Washington through a friend, Christine, in her neighborhood.
When Washington announced her new venture and request to interview women to help establish the needs and goals of her program, she was connected to Arlene.
Once Arlene learned of Washington’s own struggles- such as becoming a widow- and her will and successes to overcome-such as losing 100 pounds- she knew she found the perfect person to guide her into her next chapter.
“Sign me, I’m your client,” says Arlene, admitting this is the first time in her life working with a personal trainer/life coach.
She shares her goals through Your Next Chapter: “I want to be able to wear the clothes that I have. I want to lose weight, get healthier and have more energy.”
The two have been walking and weight training.
They meet for one hour of “walking and talking. Last Saturday I did five miles with her then three miles with a friend,” says Arlene.
She also started going to Retro Fitness gym one day a week for personal training with Washington.
“Gyms intimidate me but I’m getting better at it,” says Arlene. “She’s got me doing everything…weights, machines, weight training and cardio. She has a program for me that I do every day; some form of exercise every day. I try to get at least something in.
“I do not get home from work until 6, then walk and feed the dog…not a lot of time left,” she says. “When working from home I try to get it in during the day.”
She admits that one of her obstacles is that “work gets in the way of my program; not enough hours in the day. I wish I could do all of the stuff on my off days. Life gets in the way of my exercising, but we are working on that.”
As far as diet, Arlene says “I try to eat healthy. She asked me if I was tracking what I was eating. I cut out my snack eating; I cut my portions. I’m watching what I’m eating. I’m not even hungry a lot of times.”
She used to eat a lot of ice-cream, but “I’m not anymore,” she admits “She has me drinking a lot of water. I’m drinking 96 ounces of water a day. Now when I’m stressing, I grab the water.
“I don’t stress eat anymore each day. Now I drink water instead.”
Less Stress/Greater Success
Arlene admits she is “not even as stressed,” since starting Your Next Chapter. “Nothing is really bothering me as much anymore.”
At week 10 of the program, Arlene says she is “getting more comfortable in my clothes; already feel amazing.”
She says, “I can fit a lot of my clothes. Dress pants I haven’t worn in years, clothes are fitting much better. It’s what I wanted.”
Emotionally, Arlene is also feeling better about herself and maintains a more positive attitude.
“I hate myself for letting myself get in such bad shape,” admits Arlene. “I hate myself getting in the rut of letting myself go but I’m turning it around.”
She says, “I just want to be healthier and feel better about myself.”
After recently checking her resting heart rate, Arlene says “I was pretty shocked it was below 60.”
She shares, “A friend said ‘You seem so much calmer and happier,’ and I am.”
“After our workout, even our walks, she asks me how I feel. I say ‘I feel so amazing.’ She’s my motivator. I call her ‘Sarg.’ That’s what I needed. I needed someone to motivate me and push me. She’s really good at that. Her energy, her personality, she’s just so motivating. She’s helping me find my goal, find my happiness. I don’t think I could do this with anyone else. I’d be intimidated by anyone else. I feel like she’s my friend pushing me.”