Down 75 lbs: Tryon Estates Resident’s Fitness Journey

At age 63, weighing 205 pounds, Fran Creasy said “enough was enough.”

The petite 4’10” choir director, comfortable hitting notes on the musical scale, had struggled with the weight scale for most of her married life.

“I was tired of seeing my obese-self in family pictures when I had always been so slender,” Fran recalled of her breaking point. “I knew that with my arthritis, I was causing more damage to my joints.”

Two years before her weight loss journey, Fran had surgery to replace both knees, and then her hip. Doctors told her she was only a few years away from a second hip replacement. Her mother died a year prior, and during her long illness, the stress added up and Fran gained more weight.

In 2003, Fran knew it was time to make a positive change for her health. She initially joined Weight Watchers and lost 55 pounds before her 50th high school reunion. She contributed her success to smart eating and a vigorous fitness routine: swimming 30 laps, three days a week; and working out at the gym, three days a week.

But through the years, the pounds trickled back on. In 2012, Fran and her husband were thrilled to move to Tryon Estates, an active retirement community in Columbus, North Carolina. At first, the easygoing lifestyle, daily gourmet food and tempting desserts, made it difficult for Fran to get back on track.

Ever more determined, Fran sought help from the retirement community to support her healthy lifestyle goals. Fran took advantage of the fitness center on campus, and worked closely with Tryon’s fitness trainer Caroline Eller. The fitness trainer encouraged her to try a new strength training and cardio routine, challenging yet suited for seniors to avoid risk of injuries. Fran also returned to the pool, attending Caroline’s Aqua Fit class three days a week.

Tryon Estates’ culinary team helped Fran make smarter choices in the dining room.

“The culinary director sends me the nutrition list for each day’s menu,” said Fran. “Before dinner, I check the calories, fat, carbs and protein for each item. What I choose to eat is based on that information.”

Fran also adds more fresh fruit and vegetables to her plate. “Now, I enjoy fresh pineapple instead of dessert to finish off the meal, with a cup of decaf coffee,” Fran said.

This year, she hit her long-anticipated goal. “It has taken me almost five years to lose the last 30 pounds, but now I’m at my goal weight of 130 pounds!”

Fran hopes to be an inspiration to other residents to engage in an active, healthier lifestyle. She encourages others not to use their age as an excuse.

“People would say to me, ‘I can’t exercise because I have arthritis. I can’t work out because I have a knee replacement,’ that’s not true!” said Fran, “I exercise because I have arthritis!”

Fran is just now facing the other hip replacement, the one that doctors said she would need years ago. The active resident credits her daily exercise for easing the pain.

“The doctor tells me that I am ‘bone-on-bone,’ but because of consistent exercise, my muscles have taken over and I have very little pain. I try to tell this to people who say they can’t exercise because they have arthritis. The Aqua-Fit class has been great for my joints.”

In April, Fran attended her 60th high school reunion at Knoxville, Tennessee, down 75 pounds from when she was at her heaviest about 13 years ago. “It may not seem like an amazing amount, in that time span, but for a 4’10” senior woman, it is monumental. It is also a lesson in perseverance and determination!”

At age 77, Fran feels better than she had in her 50s. She’s director of the Tyron Estates Chorus, active in the Laurel Lake Music Society, chairman of the Artists Committee, and serves as a welcome host for new residents. “I live a very busy life here at Tryon Estates. Since losing weight, everything I do is easier. I have more energy, sleep better and walking is actually fun!”

Fran is determined to stay active in retirement and excited to be able to add different activities to her fitness routine.

“Caroline has me circuit training now,” Fran laughed.

Fran often thinks of her mother, “She kept saying to me those last years before she passed away, how she wished I could get my weight off. I like to think she is now looking down and smiling.”

Learn more about how the Acts lifestyle can benefit senior health!