Welcome to You Got This, news.com.au’s weekly fitness series featuring stories and ideas from real women who’ve experienced it all.
A Perth grandmother has revealed the secret to still being able to play tennis and do pilates in her late 70s – claiming her impressive energy levels come from giving up sugar in her 40s.
Carolyn Hartz, from Western Australia, enjoyed eating sweet treats such as cheesecake and chocolate biscuits regularly in her younger years.
But when a doctor told the mum-of-three she was pre-diabetic and hypoglycaemic, the news scared her, and she decided to take action to protect her health.
“They wanted me to take medication but I had never taken drugs in my life, and I suspected it was sugar, so I completely changed what I was eating,” the 76-year-old told news.com.au.
After conducting her own research, Carolyn cut out all sugar except for one or two pieces of fruit a day.
“I made sure that I had protein with every meal because I was eating a lot of carbohydrates, which sends blood sugar levels crazy,” she explained.
“Breakfast was no longer half a cheesecake or a packet of chocolate biscuits, I’d have eggs on toast with salmon and cottage cheese.”
After a year, her health was back under control, but Carolyn decided to continue to cut out sugar, as well as gluten as she had an intolerance.
But, she missed her old favourites, so when she was travelling in the United States and Paris at a conference someone introduced her a natural, sugar free alternative.
“A lady commented on how much food I ate. She said, ‘I think I know you well enough to ask you now. How do you stay so slim’,” Carolyn said.
After explaining she’d cut out a lot of food groups due to health fears, the woman introduced her xylitol, a sugar-free alternative derived from birch trees and corn cobs.
At age 55, Carolyn decided to bring the sugar alternative to Australia, despite having no computer or business experience.
Eventually she was able to create a range of sugar-free alternatives to her favourite foods rather than completely abstaining, and launched Sweet Life, a Sugar Free Baking and Sugar Free Kitchen range.
“I’ve always advocated for finding an alternative rather than completely abstaining from a type of food many crave, such as sweets, because deprivation never works,” Carolyn said.
“You end up craving it all the more, and your efforts more often than not are up-ended within a few months.”
She even created a cookbook to go alongside her range of baking mixes, which include her favourite cookies, lamingtons and a gluten-free chocolate mousse.
Now the age of 76, many people are stunned with Carolyn’s physique and passion for fitness, claiming they “can’t believe” her age.
She stressed while food is part of it, it’s not the only thing responsible for her age-defying physique.
She said exercise such as walking, pilates, running around with her four grandkids and tennis were all part of her success.
Sleep is also a major factor, Carolyn said, adding people should never deprive themselves of the foods they enjoy.