VICENZA, Italy -- It took a journey of 6,000 miles, 15 years and the aid of a few dedicated helpers to do it, but one Caserma Ederle employee has rediscovered the energy, self esteem and waistline she lost during a progressive weight gain.

Carol Korth, a budget analyst with the Office of the Superintendent DoDDS Mediterranean District, has lost 70 pounds since moving to Italy - 55 pounds since May - a change that she credits largely to the programs available through the Vicenza Fitness Center and the Army Wellness Center.

"I floundered for fifteen years, trying to change bad habits, but nothing worked," Korth said. "I always used to stay slim but (as I got older) what I used to do just didn't work anymore. I'd go to the gym and got very little results. I've tried all the different diets all my life and then I just tried to get healthy and it wasn't working. Finally, someone proved to me that something was going to work."

That someone was Chiara Oswald, a personal trainer with the Vicenza Fitness Center, who helped Korth identify ways to get the pounds off and build a stronger, healthier body. Korth, who struggles with diabetes, also started going to Shanda Holley, massage therapist, partially because of trouble with circulation in her legs. As the weeks passed, Korth watched the pounds begin melting away and felt increased mobility, flexibility and strength in her body.

"It's amazing. My hips used to be almost frozen. Now I run up and down the steps at my house. I have legs now that I wouldn't mind wearing a short skirt! I don't have trouble with my knees anymore and my back doesn't hurt. My goal is to be able to sit down cross legged on the floor and play with my grandkids."

Korth now works out four to five days a week and goes for a walk or does some activity, even on her off days. She also changed her eating habits.

"And I like what I eat," she said. "This has helped to be more aware of the cause and effect of my body."

Korth decreased her sodium intake, and concentrated on eating proteins, and adding more fruits and vegetables to her diet. Those starting a diet, especially if they have other health concerns, should speak with a specialist, said Maj. Adrienne Jefferson, RD, LD, dietician with Preventative Medicine/Community Health at the U.S. Army Health Center Vicenza. Although Korth received general dietary advice from the Army Wellness Center, the staff are not dieticians and can offer only basic nutrition education, said Lacy Wolff, director of the Army Wellness Center.

Wolff has been involved with Korth's progress throughout her time at Vicenza.

"It's wonderful to see the change in Carol," Wolff said. "She has learned how to balance input and output and she will live a longer, happier, healthier life because she has truly learned what it means to be healthy. There is no magic pill. It takes hard work and education to change one's lifestyle."

The Army Wellness Center falls under the U.S. Army Public Health Command as part of their integrated healthcare system, Wolff said. The center helps link garrison programs with MEDCOM resources to inform community members of what programs are offered and assist them with accessing those programs, so they can meet their wellness goals.

"The arrangement is unique to Europe, and CONUS installations are trying to replicate what we have done here in Vicenza," Wolff said.

The use of integrated services is also central to the tenants of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, implemented locally by Vicenza's Comprehensive Soldier and Community Fitness working group. The program's intent is to help community members balance their social, physical, emotional, spiritual and family needs to maintain holistic health and overall wellness, according to the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness web site.

The mix of services and programs seems to work for Korth, who said she will continue pursuing her health goals.

"I think the combination of the Wellness Center and the Fitness Center staff are what made the difference for me," Korth said. "I can sit down and talk with them about what their specialty is and they can give guidance about where I want to go. Lacy has been the person I talk to the most. The caring, that's what makes the difference. They have empathy. They never told me 'you can't' and I didn't feel embarrassed going there because I knew they were there to help."

Korth is now trying to help others with her new ideas and energy. She is writing a cookbook for herself with low-fat and low-sugar recipes that she has started sharing with friends and associates.

"I don't like to have attention drawn to me, but if I can help someone else then it's worth it. My son keeps reminding me that I'm not on a diet. I'm making lifestyle changes. The pride and support my family shows has kept me on the path of success, and I try to pass it on to others making the same efforts.

"I want to tell people who are trying to lose weight, don't give up. I always wanted to live in Europe before I retired and it took me six years to get a job, but I got here. It took me fifteen years to lose the weight, to feel like I'm becoming me again, but I did it. Find a support network, like Lacy, Chiara and Shanda, at the Wellness Center and the Fitness Center. I did it. You can do it, too."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16