Carolyn Hartz, 72, is the picture of health and looks like she has always prioritised healthy living. But that’s not so – behind the gym-honed physique lies a diabetes diagnosis following a lifetime of being a bonafide sugar addict.
The gorgeous grandmother-of-four doesn’t look like someone who used to eat cheesecake for breakfast and a packet of post dinner biscuits too! But that’s exactly what she used to do.
In her own admission Carolyn was a sugar addict, until she was diagnosed with pre type 2 diabetes and she knew she had to kick her sweet tooth to the curb once and for all.
While nowadays nobody would bat an eyelid if you said you were going sugar-free, Carolyn did it 31-years-ago. Everyone thought she was crazy but she’s never looked back.
Now dubbed the sugar-free pioneer she still swears that cutting out her vice is the reason behind her age-defying and super healthy body and she insists you can do it too.
“I developed pre diabetes when I was 41,” Carolyn tells Lumity. “I was a healthy person who had always played a lot of sport but I ate a lot of sweets in those days too.”
Carolyn remembers she began to have dizzy spells but doctors cast off her concerns as stress from parenting three small children. Only Carolyn wasn’t convinced.
“I didn’t work, I didn’t have any worries. It certainly wasn’t stress,” she says.
When she had another dizzy spell while driving her car and almost clipped a cyclist she knew she had to get to the bottom of the problem. She visited a Chinese medicine specialist and he diagnosed her with a sugar problem within five minutes.
But when another specialist she was referred to suggested prescription drugs to resolve the issue though, she took matters into her own hands.
“I knew I ate too much sugar and I didn’t need all the research I had done to tell me that. It wasn’t rocket science to work out that three pieces of cheesecake for breakfast and a packet of biscuits in one sitting was a problem.
“I told the doctor I wanted to try to change my diet for five months before I considered taking medication.”
Carolyn made the radical decision to cut out all sugar.
“I had one piece of fruit per day for the fibre and nutrients, but then I lived on fish, chicken, meat, vegetables, and no alcohol. I looked like the picture of health. My skin, my eyes, my hair were all gorgeous.”
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But she admits: “It was so difficult to live like that, especially since I was gluten intolerant too.
“I had to develop a whole new lifestyle. I would allow myself two half glasses of wine (always followed by two glasses of water) when I was out for dinner. I wouldn’t knock it back, I would sip it and really taste and enjoy it. The same thing with chocolate. I’d have a couple of pieces instead of an entire bar and I’d savour it.
“If I had dessert I’d share some fruit and fresh cream with my husband. It was all about being mindful of what I was eating, which again back then wasn’t the done thing. But it really does work and you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself.
“Then I discovered a natural sugar free alternative and going sugar-free became so much easier,” says Carolyn who is the founding director of Sweetlife Australia. “I could even eat meringue and lemon curd! But that didn’t mean I was about to throw all the sensible eating tips I’d adopted away.
“People ask me how I stay slim when I eat so much, but I’m eating good foods, eating regularly and I always include some protein at every meal. I also eat in moderation. Portion sizes have become unnecessarily big nowadays. I never eat low fat foods either as they are usually high in sugar.”
On top of that Carolyn exercises and so she refuses to hang up her bikini just because of her age.
“What you eat is obviously a huge factor in your health from the inside out but staying active is also important,” she says. “You don’t have to go to the gym but if you can, get out and walk and move. I also do Pilates twice a week.
“I’m definitely not perfect and I let myself fall off the healthy wagon from time to time and I certainly don’t judge anyone else for the way they want to live their life. But if you WANT to live a long, healthy, and active life you are capable of it.
“It might be hard in the beginning, but it’ll be so worth it in the long run. Make healthy living a lifestyle choice and you’ll more than reap the rewards.”