I retired from the U.S. Dept of State on Sept 30, 2015 and moved back to Austin the next day from Chennai, India. My husband and I had left Austin in 1980 to become Peace Corps Volunteers in The Gambia, West Africa, and were there until April, 1984, when we returned to Austin in anticipation of him entering the MBA program at UT. Instead, after passing the foreign service test and being on their wait list for two years, he was invited to become a foreign service officer, so we left Austin that September for Washington, DC. He served in our embassies or consulates in Cameroon, India, Barbados, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Washington, DC, Djibouti, and Germany between 1985 and 2003. During that time I worked at each posting, picking up odd jobs like motor pool dispatcher, financial section assistant, newsletter editor, community liaison coordinator, etc. In 2003, I joined the State Department as a "direct-hire" office management specialist. I ran the offices of principal officers and ambassadors. My first assignment was to Kabul, Afghanistan. Next tour I got assigned to Stockholm, Sweden where Ed had transferred from Germany. We both got Washington jobs after that. Then I was in Paris for three years, followed by my final tour in Chennai, India. All those years we worked hard and partied harder.
We had wonderful vacations, but outside of playing tennis for a few years, we led very sedentary lives. At one point I ballooned up to 263 pounds, dropping to 200 pounds, regaining back to 250, and so forth. Around 1991 I developed an intense pain in both knees, but it wasn't until 2001 I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both knees. I didn't have time to do anything about it, and the pain increased with each passing year. Finally, knowing that I was retiring in a few months, in March 2015 I took action and had total knee replacement on my right knee. There was immediate relief, and as I progressed through physical therapy the pain in my other knee disappeared too.
Lost 100 lbs and 8 Dress Sizes
November 2015 I was driving down Burnet Road and saw the CrossFit Central sign. On an impulse I pulled in and Carey happened to be in the reception area saying bye to one of her clients, an older woman like me. That seemed promising. We talked a while and I told her my story, and that I needed to drop pounds, gain strength and move more. We agreed to twice a week private sessions, and I've never looked back. Of course, it takes a village, and CrossFit, as much as I love it, has been just one part of my success. In Oct 2017 I had a gastric sleeve operation to reduce my stomach. That has been instrumental in my weight loss. I also have a personal trainer at a pilates studio, and I have used the Feldenkrais Method, a type of exercise therapy which claims to reorganize connections between the brain and body and so improve body movement and psychological state.
I have lost over 100 pounds and 8 dress sizes. I am stronger and have increased my overall endurance. I have always had a "can-do" attitude, which Carey has reinforced. My former knee issues made it hard and painful for me to get down on the floor, but I have overcome that issue recently.
This summer I went on a nine-day hike in the UK along Hadrian's Wall with my husband and four former foreign service colleagues, walking from B&B to B&B. Some days I registered 20 miles on my Fitbit, going up and down rocky hills. No one was more impressed with my performance than me!