Karen's Arm At 53 years old!

I am very excited to share this story with you.  I think it will touch and inspire you, especially those who are in their mid 40’s and older.  When Karen sent this to me I got goosebumps.  I am very thankful that the 1 hour I spent with her changed her for the rest of her life.  I am so proud of Karen for APPLYING the knowledge she learned and living it out 24/7.  I am also so excited for her to become a certified trainer (that will bring the number of my clients, who would have never dreamed of being a trainer, who have gotten certified to 6) so that she can share the truth and what she has found to be life-changing.  When meeting Karen 18 months ago, I had no idea that she had just lost her father.  The pics she sent me were incredible.  If I were to describe Karen the first time I met her (and the only time), I would describe her as frail, brittle, and a little emaciated, it also seemed like a little bit of her life had been taken from her… I am sure that was from the recent passing of her dad.  But these pictures show an amazing 180, she is an incredibly toned and lean post menopausal woman who is determined to live life on her terms.

So check out her story!

What does age 53, “the empty nest”, climbing a 60 ft tower and Fit Mom’s For Life have in common? For me it means I am standing at the crossroads of a new stage of my life that is both exciting and scary at the same time! My “baby” will be heading off to college this next week and our house will be empty. All of this has prompted a great deal of soul searching as well as personal reflection that makes me realize it’s time for “Me”.

When I look back, the events of my past have all led up to where I am now and to where I am heading. The pivotal point began back in January, 2009 when I met Dustin for a personal training session at our home. I had just lost my father and my husband surprised me with a personal training session with Dustin. I remember thinking, “how nice, but how is one session going to help me”? I was wrong, it only took one session of an intense total body workout, complete with nutritional education and body measurements that totally changed the way I workout and live my life. It’s been a totally new way of fitness! No more steady state cardio or wishy, washy weight training where I just ” hit or miss”. There is a goal, a plan and a commitment. Dustin was just putting the finishing touches of his 12 DVD Fit Mom’s For Life series so I signed up. I have all 12 and each one gets progressively more challenging. I now have a beautiful series of personal training dvd’s that I can incorporate into my other weight training and cardio workouts.

I recently sent Dustin a few pictures of me showing my biceps. I didn’t have any signs of a bicep when I first met Dustin, so I showed him what doing the Fit Mom’s For Life DVD’s, strength training,cardio burst training as well as eating clean has done for me! At first I didn’t think I “fit in” because the mother’s where of young children, but fit mom’s for life doesn’t have an age limit nor does developing muscle strength have an age limit! I plan to continue to lift weights and incorporate clean eating and along with burst training for as long as I am able. I have no end in sight! In fact it’s just the beginning. I have signed up for a ACE Personal Training Prep Course at UW Madison to see if my love and passion for health and fitness might be a new journey for me to pursue. I will never know unless I try!

Karen doing a 1 Arm DB Row

How does the climbing tower fit in? On July 3rd, I scaled the side of a 60 ft climbing tower at Camp Lutherdale. Before I took the zip line down, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and with a leap of faith, jumped into this new stage of my life! It’s a new day and a new way!

It’s amazing how “things” happen for a reason. I do believe things happen for a reason and there are no mistakes!


Question of the day:  What questions do you have for Karen?  Do you have specifics on motivation, exercise, or nutrition?  She would love to answer your questions.


  1. Congratulations Karen! Thank you for sharing your story, you are the inspiration that I needed to get going today. I’m going to print out your pic and put it on my wall–I want those biceps!

    In in inbox today was an email from a good friend. There was a quote that at the end of it that struck a chord with me. It said, “Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps if you are not willing to move your feet.” You have strong internal motivation! My question to you is, where do you turn when the going gets tough?

  2. Karen,
    I am 62 and just started the bootcamp. I think age is not actually much of a handicap, but a ‘bum’ right knee really is. The hardest part is watching others do what I used to do, but no longer can because of my knee. Fun things like sprinting and wall sits – I used to be tops at both! Nevertheless I am feeling stronger and younger than I have in a long time, and am starting to actually love every minute of bootcamp! It is nice to know there are other ‘older’ women taking this on. Give me a couple of months and we can ‘match’ biceps!

  3. My bicepts are not bad for my age, although I would likei more strength in the back of my arms. I do pushups every morning, arm lifts toward my shoulders, and to the sides of my shoulders, plus arm pushup towarrd my back, arm circles to my sides. For artheritis I do hand grasping, circle with my hands for 20 times, pretend playing the piano for half a minute, and kind of a turning and twisting of my fingers, as though I was a Hawain dancer, shoulder raises,shoulder circles, head rolls slowly in each directiobn, a couple of times. Try it, you’ll like it. Shalom, Esther

  4. Karen! What an awesome story. I am so proud to be your SP friend. She is always so kind and encouraging. You’ll be a great personal trainer! Congrats!

  5. Kathleen Larsen says

    YOU ROCK! What an inspiration to all. Thanks so much for sharing!
    How about conducting a class for those over 55 to spread your spark? I bet you’d get a lot of participants!!! Just an idea…………..

  6. Karen – Congratulations to you! It is good to have ladies my age participating in the bootcamps. I am so excited for you in your journey to become a trainer. No more excuses I am going to keep moving – thanks for the story it really is motivational.

  7. I just got home from taking my daughter to college and found my pictures and article on Dustin’s website! Thank you everyone for your positive and upbeat comments.

    Nancy K – you asked a great question as to where I go when the going gets tough? Along with my faith in God, I have a few key people in my life who give me encouragement when needed. In addition, I find I need to surround myself with websites like Dustin’s, Spark People and Clean Eating that provide positive and upbeat information to keep me motivated to stay on course with my health and fitness intentions. I write my intentions down and review them weekly and sometimes daily. I have discovered that it’s my inner dialogue that will either keep me on my health and wellness journey or throw me off course and most importantly, put me back on when I do meander off. So Nancy, the fact you are here on Dustin’s website makes me think you are on your fitness journey. One day at a time!

    Maggie – how wonderful you are loving bootcamp at the age of 62! You are not letting your bum knee hold you back or your age! I couldn’t agree with you more! You are also inspirational!

    Esther – you have some impressive exercises that are definitely working for you! I’ll have to give them a try!

    Kim – thanks for being a special SP friend! Your suggestion that I send my pictures to Dustin made me realize I should “go for it” Thanks again!

    Kathleen – thanks for your supportive and encouraging comment! I love the suggestion to consider teaching a class for 50 +

    Shirley – thank you for your supportive comments as well! I’m sure you are an inspiration to many who know you!


  8. Karen, you have my shoulder for a few tears, taking your daughter back to college-just took my baby back to UW a week ago, so into our second year of empty nesting! But if you and Maggie don’t get me off my duff, don’t know who will!! You gals are totally inspiring! And yeah, can sure see you teaching a class of ‘Nesters…..I co-lead this age group at our church’s women’s group(no-NOT fitness!) and I find we are anything but empty! God so wants this stage to be fulfilling and happy for us in brand new ways–and yeah, gotta’ say we are way proud of Dustin’s part in helping gals with the physical aspect of new dreams :).
    Okay, Dustin, don’t give up…..some day I’ll be shocking you with some bicep pics! 🙂

  9. Congrats Karen! From getting to know you on Spark People I know you would make a great trainer! You have helped to inspire me along my own journey. One of my goals since seeing these pics on Spark People is to have biceps just like yours. I’m getting closer but still don’t have that great definition like you do. My question is are you able to lift the same weights as most of the moms on the dvds? (besides the really crazy heavy ones) I’m usually about 10 lbs behind on any of the more challenging ones and everytime I try to bump it up even 5 lbs I can’t seem to do more than 1 or 2 without having really bad form. Any suggestions how to progress up to the next level?

  10. Mom – I know I will get use to this “empty nest” stage and will continue to draw upon the advice and suggestions from other mom’s who are and have gone through it. Your feedback has been most helpful, so thank you! Can’t wait to see your bi-ceps.

    Donna – to another special SP friend on Fit Mom’s For Life Team! You know Donna, I too am not lifting the same weights as some of the younger mom’s on the dvd’s. I found myself progressing with consistent weight training and adding more protein to my nutritional plan. I’m still a work in progress my friend and still have other body parts I am working on to develop more muscle definition. I stopped comparing myself to the awesome mom’s on the dvd’s and attempt to keep focusing on what I can do and progress accordingly. When it’s starts to get easy, it’s time to bump it up a notch. Keep up the great work Donna. I know you have made marvelous progress on your health and fitness journey as well! We can do it!


  11. Thanks Karen. That makes me feel better. I kept thinking I needed to go heavier to get the good definition. I’ll just keep staying consitant & hopefully I will get there!

  12. Hi Karen,
    Thanks for sharing your empowering and inspiring story of transformation. And congratulations on your “New Beginning”! With the work you are putting in your health and fitness, I am sure you will enjoy a better relationship with your daughter despite the fact that she is now gone to college. I hope some of us Bootcampers get to meet you one day in person, especially as a trainer.

    Good luck on your ACE Personal Training Prep Course at UW Madison.

  13. Patty Henry says

    Karen u look amazing. You definately have the Obama arms.
    Dustin programs are great and anyone at any age can benefit from the bootcamps and or DVD. I do both and I am a different person than I was 1 1/2 years ago. I am still on my journey but now I see light at the end of the tunnel. Great job and thanks for being a inspiration for all the other women afraid to make a change.

  14. Donna – I do increase my weights when it gets to be too easy but if it’s too heavy and I lose form, that tells me I’m not quite ready. You are getting there because I’ve seen your SP pictures!

    Emilie – I hope to get to know you and some of the bootcampers as well! Thanks for your supportive and encouraging words!

    Patty Henry – I never thought of myself as having Obama arms but it’s good to know my hard work is paying off. I saw a cousin this summer who I hadn’t seen in over 20 yrs and she commented I looked “buffed”. At first I was uncomfortable with the attention but then I thought this is what I hope to show other women my age. You are truly an inspiration yourself and I can imagine you are not the same person you were a year and a half ago! You are role modeling to other women they too can do this!

  15. Karen – I will keep trying to increase the weights when I can. There are some that I feel I should be able to increase but when I try I have bad form so I guess I’m just not ready to move up yet. Thanks for all your input and suggestions.

  16. Robin Ruth says

    Hello Karen!

    Wow, I love these photos of you! I am so proud of you, to not only resist the urge to just “let yourself go”, but to make such a powerful statement by having your story and photos made public to influence others! It is so refreshing to see a woman loving her body, and I hope you continue to do so Karen. Thank you for contributing to the empowerment of women.

    Robin Ruth, Therapeutic Photographer
    and Body Image Consultant
    video: http://youtu.be/rjfBMMgqVqU

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