2011's Foxy lady: One year on

Putting mind, body and spirit to the test, Fernwood’s 12 Week ‘Get Foxy’ Challenge 2011 winner proves that with the ultimate self-challenge comes the ultimate reward.

A year ago, cycling more than 100 kilometres in a single day would have seemed absurd to 2011 Get Foxy winner Catherine Pope. Today, she proudly admits this as one of her achievements, having pedalled from her home in Melbourne’s north-west to a relative’s place in Inverloch. But it’s not herself she’s most proud of. It’s her 11-year-old son, James, who not only suggested she do it, but was right there on a bike beside her.

“It was hard yakka, but I was so proud of James,” says Catherine, a member of Fernwood Melton. “He didn’t complain or grizzle once, even when the going got tough through rain, strong winds and massive hill climbs on the back roads we travelled.”

James isn’t the only one benefiting from Catherine’s post-challenge get-up-and-go. At a recent family gathering she learned she had inspired her sister-in-law and niece to lose nearly 70 kilos between them.

And after 20 years of virtually no exercise, her husband has followed her example and is now dedicated to his own fitness regime.

“It’s nice to think you’ve played a small part in helping others to achieve their goals,” says Catherine. “It also acts as a motivator for keeping me on track to make sure I don’t drop the ball.”

In April, Catherine and the family will head to Hawaii to enjoy her Get Foxy prize holiday. While her desire to look and feel great for the trip has helped her short-term focus, she’s well aware that the biggest challenge ahead is staying healthy for the rest of her life.

“One of the most important things the challenge has taught me is to be realistic and focus on activities that are sustainable,” she says.

“In the past, when my weight fluctuated I would give up on exercise altogether. Now I do whatever I can to make my health my focus. If I can’t get to the gym on a particular day, I’ll get up early and go for a walk.”

The active outlook has rubbed off on other members of the Pope clan, with bushwalks and bike rides on their 40 acre property now regular family activities. Catherine’s example has shown her children what can be achieved with persistence and hard work – and young James can attest to that.

Yoga and body combat classes give Catherine time to nourish her own energy levels, too, which as a wife and working mum took some getting used to. But being happy within herself, she’s discovered, is better for her family.

“After you reach 40, it’s easy to think ‘this is my lot in life’,” Catherine says, reflecting on her transformation. “But it is possible to turn things around with effort and concentration. “I’ll be happy to still be going to the gym in my 80s.”

Key to success: Making exercise and healthy eating a way of life.
Post-challenge lesson: Be realistic and aim to create a balance in lifestyle.
Next health and fitness goal: Develop a sustainable program for long-term health.
Motivation booster: Being healthy and happy is good for me and my family. 

To find out how our 2011 runners up are going one year on from the Challenge, pick up a copy of our Mar-Apr Fernwood Magazine at your local Fernwood club.

*Fernwood client testimonial was achieved as part of an overall healthy diet and exercise plan. Regular exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss. Consult your healthcare professional before beginning any diet or fitness program.

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