From Mobility Loss and Extreme Obesity to Hiking Mountains in Peru...
I have been the biggest person in every room I've been in for as long as I can remember. By the time I was 12 years old, I weighed about 100 lbs more than some of my friends and I had no idea how to fix it. I wasn't unhappy with my life, but as the scale continued to rise, I became more stressed and confused as to why the journey was so difficult for me.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and as my symptoms progressed, my life crumbled around me. Within two years of diagnosis, I had experienced blurry vision, muscle stiffness, severe pain, muscle spasms, and trouble with balance. I also hit my all time high on the scale at 357.4 lbs.
The pain was excruciating and completely debilitating to the point where one flare took 9 months of my life, forcing me into a fetal position on my bathroom floor for up to 19 hours at a time. I was afraid to leave the house, I couldn't work, and my life felt like it was over before I turned 25.
Finding relief through cannabis, I began to get better. My nine month exacerbation faded but I was left with chronic "manageable" pain (according to who!?) and a myriad of symptoms. I went back to work, rebuilt my social life, and tried to keep my stress level low, despite feeling tired, uncomfortable, and fearful of what was coming next.
Unfortunately, I didn't understand how to use food, exercise, and stress management as medicine and my disease continued to get worse. I was using a cane more often than I'd like to admit and one day, I collapsed in my living room and couldn't feel my right leg. I realized that, at my weight, it would take multiple people to come lift me out of my second story apartment. My pride wouldn't allow me to call anyone so I just laid there for hours, just focusing on not breathing (and not panicking) and I knew I had hit rock bottom.
Frustrated and scared, I knew there had to be more that I could be doing. I spent the next few months on disability researching my options and discovered how to follow a plan that not only helped me lose weight, but that also helped me heal my body and feel better day to day.
By dedicating my life to nutrition, fitness, and stress management, I have eliminated or drastically minimized all of my symptoms and lost over 135 lbs (and counting!).
In 2016, when I realized I could fit on a plane, I decided to quit my job to travel. It was something I never thought possible at my prior size or as a person struggling to manage MS. I bounced all through California, to Orlando, Miami Beach, and spent five weeks traveling through Peru. From not being able to walk to exploring Machu Picchu, I find time to be grateful every day for having a second chance at life. I have discovered my personal balance through trial and error and I am deeply passionate about providing the tools I've learned about stress management to show people what chronic illness and extreme weight loss can look like if you take care of your body in a loving and supportive way.
I am a mindset coach, motivational speaker, and writer living in Boston, MA. I have a Bachelor's degree in Holistic Psychology from Lesley University (Cambridge, MA), a coaching certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), and three years of experience in the fitness industry.
Check out Carolyn's Instagram for more before and after pictures!