As the owner of a Home Care franchise that focuses on reducing isolation for seniors, I speak with people in the community frequently about the term “Happier Aging”. At its simplest, it’s the concept and practice of embracing aging with joy. And stories of amazing seniors is part of that.
This is a true story. A truly inspiring story. A story about Happier Aging. Inspired aging. It’s Vici’s story.
Vici is a Cowichan Valley resident I met over 10 years ago. She found me when I was offering fitness services in the community and she wanted to make changes in her health and how she felt. Specifically, she wanted to lose 100 lbs and hike a mountain trail near Lake Louise called Deception Pass. Losing 100 lbs in itself is an amazing goal, and then to add hiking (really, it’s climbing!) a mountain trail that is 10km long (one way!) with leg-gnawing elevation is awe inspiring. At the time I met her, Vici was 60 years of age and 219 lbs. There was work to be done.
Vici started training in the gym. She was dedicated. She came every day. She made some changes to her diet. She noticed some positive changes. Yet this wasn’t doing it for Vici. She wasn’t feeling inspired by indoor exercise on a machine. She needed something different.
Vici had a fateful crossing of the paths with Canadian Olympic rower, 2008 Olympic Bronze Medallist, and two-time World Champion, Tracy Cameron. Tracy billeted at Vici’s home for a time in 2007, while training and competing locally. Tracy was able to view Vici’s eating habits in person and made some specific suggestions to Vici about how much food she was eating. Vici took Tracy’s advice and experienced more improvements, much faster. From that point on, Vici only used a seven-inch plate and ditched her full-sized plates. Her serving sizes at meal times have made a huge difference.
Around this same time, Vici started her own walking program. She started with a simple trip to the mailbox. That trip to the mailbox from her front door is three blocks, with some of that being uphill. Not so simple. Vici took three rest breaks on her first walking trip to the mailbox that day in July 2007.
Soon Vici was taking two trips to the mailbox each day. Then three trips per day. Vici branched out to longer walks in her neighbourhood at Swan’s Nest. And to St. Peter’s Church. Progressing to a couple of walks each day. Vici was thriving with her walking program. She fell in love with walking outside.
Vici walked because she had desire. Desire for better health. For weight loss. And most of all, the desire to honour her mother. You see, Vici’s mother had passed one year earlier. And her mother’s dream was to have her ashes spread atop Deception Pass at Banff National Park. That aforementioned 10km hike with the leg-sapping elevation! Vici was in training. Training for an important life goal.
Combining the power of smaller meal sizes and a progressive walking program Vici’s weight began melting off her. She walked, and walked, and walked. She added a third walk each day, one after every meal. All the while with a smile on her face and drive in her heart.
In July 2008, Vici set out on the hike she promised herself she would complete. Hiking 10km to the top of Deception Pass, Vici honoured and achieved that goal. It was hard. There were times during the hike Vici could have turned back. Others would have. But not her. She persisted. Another 100 metres. Another 100 metres. At last there it was — the peak. On July 16, 2008, at 62 years of age and nearly 60 lbs lost over the past year, Vici summited that hike and achieved a major life goal. After a grueling 10km hike up a mountain trail on a summer day Vici was exhausted. She was spent. She had given her all. And she had never felt more fulfilled than at that moment when she conquered that mountain trail and ascended to her mother’s final resting place.
Since that day in July 2008, Vici has continued her amazing evolution. She walks three times every day and she loves it! She has continued to experience better health and weight loss. She reached her 100 lb weight loss goal in 2015. So incredible. She is under 120 lbs and continues to keep the weight off!
Vici uses her Fit Bit to support her in reaching her milestones every day. Every day she achieves close to 15,000 steps (10 km) throughout the day and has amassed nearly 10 million steps since she started using her Fit Bit in December 2015. Her neighbours in Swan’s Nest know about her already. She is truly an inspiration to us all. An inspiring story of what can be achieved when you set your mind (and heart!) to an important goal.
And you know what else? Vici has summited that trail two more times since that day in 2008.
It was when her family, friends and neighbours started telling Vici how great she was doing and looking that she really felt the inspiration herself. One great quote Vici shared with me recently, “When you don’t hear it, you don’t know it.” She found that having others notice and acknowledge her efforts was an important piece of motivation early on and continues to be.
Vici is quick to credit others for her achievements. But we all know it was she who did it. She who put in the work. She who stuck to the plan. Vici is a huge inspiration to her friends and family, her neighbours, and all those who hear her story. I asked Vici what she might want readers to take away from her story. Her response encapsulates her inspiring spirit — she exclaimed, “If I can do it, you can too!” Thank you Vici.