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Happy New Year! Four Inspiring Stories of People Who Turned Their Health Around

YouTube screenshot of CBN News video featuring Ida Keeling.

Happy New Year! Many are making plans to lose weight and “get in shape” in just a few years. It will be a brand new year with nothing written on it, so there are opportunities for you to change your health, no matter how old you are.

Here are four true inspiring stories (plus a few videos) about people who decided in their middle age or later years that they were sick and tired of being sick and tired … and they were finally going to do something positive about their health:

1. Ernestine Shepherd.

This lady is simply amazing! Ernestine Shepherd was born in 1936, and in 2010 the Guinness Book of World Records recognized her as the oldest female bodybuilder who was still competing! Although she is no longer competing today, she still has a lot to teach about great attitude, perseverance and hard work.

Shepherd was not always into lifting weights. One day when she was 56, she and her sister Velvet went to try on swimsuits. They did not like how they looked in the mirror when they tried on the swimsuits! So Ernestine and Velvet decided that they were going to lose the weight and tone up. And tone up they did! (Ernestine says that before the age of 56 she had never set foot in a gym.)

Sadly, Velvet passed away, but Ernestine decided to dedicate to her sister all her competition in bodybuilding contests!

Her weekly regimen includes not only weightlifting, but also running and maintaining a strict diet of about 1,700 calories a day.

2. Ida Keeling.

Now if you think Ernestine Shepherd is something … you should check out Ida Keeling! She currently holds world records for women runners — for women ages 100 to 104! She ran the 100-meter dash in just a fraction over one minute, and then after the race, she went down and started doing pushups. Oh. My. Gosh. Millions of Americans half her age couldn’t do that!

Keeling’s life was pretty rough when she was growing up in the Great Depression, and it did not get any easier when she got married after World War II.  She and her husband later separated, and she worked hard to provide for her children. When one son died of a drug-related overdose in the 1970s that put her in a tailspin.

Thank God her daughter, a track coach, thought getting Keeling into running would be good therapy. (I can tell you from personal experience it really is.) Ida Keeling loved it, the depression began to lift, and she has been running ever since. She even wrote a book: Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race Against Time.

In addition to her weekly running, does she have a special diet? Absolutely: plenty of vegetables, a daily dose of cod liver oil … and a daily shot of cognac! (I would not recommend the cognac, but I’m not about to tell a 103-year-old track star what to do!)

This little lady weighs less than 100 pounds, but acts like a world conqueror:

3. Janice Lorraine.

Janice Lorraine is a 75-year-old bodybuilder who started lifting weights at the age of 55 to combat the telltale signs of aging (obesity and issues with balance, posture, and mobility). She found a personal trainer and started lifting iron.

Many people think that resistance training (weightlifting) is only for young people or people who are “fit.” Nothing could be further from the truth! The fact is, people can build muscle mass at any age (although it is a slower process as we get older), and lifting iron is one of the best things you can do to prevent osteoporosis!

Women in particular benefit from weightlifting.

Once Janice Lorraine got busy pushing herself and seeing good results, she decided to compete in bodybuilding competitions! Since 1999, she has won 23 competitions, and is known as Australia’s “fittest grandma.” She does not eat any processed food, but does eat a cookie and one little piece of a 90 percent sugar-free chocolate each day. With the strenuous training sessions she goes through, I guess she is allowed that!

My favorite comment from her comes at the end of People magazine article. She says, “Rather than being 74 and feeling awful and embarrassed, I feel good. Head up, strong. I strut along the street.” How many people half her age only wish they could do what she is doing?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Why not start changing your health this January? No one is saying you have to follow the paths of these ladies, but you can do something. That’s exactly what our fourth person in this list did. He could not do the conventional running or weightlifting, so Arthur Boorman did what he could, and it worked! Read on.

4. Arthur Boorman.

This Gulf War veteran and U.S. Army paratrooper had a body that was injured and locked up. In fact, doctors told him that he would never be able to walk on his own again. There he was, terribly overweight and unable to walk without assistance.

He believed that doing the usual exercise stuff on the videos was out of the question, but one day he came across a yoga course taught by Diamond Dallas Page (DDP Yoga). He thought he would give it a try. What did he have to lose? He started an incredible journey to become mobile again.

Enjoy this video documenting Arthur Boorman’s recovery and progress into good health. What an amazing transformation! It’ll bring tears of joy to your eyes.

What are some lessons you can learn from these four inspiring people? Number one, stop putting limitations on yourself. Stop listening to others telling you that you “can’t” (that includes that little voice inside your head). Change begins in the mind. Commit to that change on a specific date, and make a plan to get it done.

My plan for the past many years involves three days of heavy weight-lifting and two days of cardio each week. One day per week I devote to beating the daylights out of my punching bag. I rest one day a week. And I have kept myself on a strict (but enjoyable) diet for years: no preservatives, no “diet” soda, very little meat, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, never any alcohol, and virtually no processed sugar. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

Finally, get to work on that day you circled on the calendar. Carve out time each week that you will religiously devote to exercise, and stay away from the poisonous foods that are killing Americans (fast food, sugary drinks, sweets)! Transformation WILL happen, but you must give it time. Stick with it, and before you know it, you won’t recognize that person in the mirror!