Quitting smoking first step towards better, healthier, longer, happier life
IronMaori Ki Hawera Whanau Training and Support was formed to create a family-based, non-judgmental environment to support all levels, sizes and ages. Each member is supported in achieving their own goals while aiming for events such as IronMaori Taranaki, hosted in Hawera, or other sporting events. Now they are sharing their stories, in a partnership with the Taranaki Star, to help inspire others to get off the couch and get fit.
Caroline Kara's journey started six years ago when she gave up smoking because she wanted to be around to watch her grandchildren grow up and encourage them to have a "go do it" attitude, no matter what obstacles they may come up against.
Kara then realised that along with giving up smoking she had to make more lifestyle changes: healthy living, healthy food, exercise and a positive attitude.
"I had been exercising on and off for the last six years, but when it's just yourself you quickly lose motivation. I needed to keep myself busy to finally kick the smoking in the butt, which I'm proud to say, I've not had a cigarette since and don't miss it."
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"So a year ago when I was asked to come along and try out a spin class I had no idea what a spin class was but thought 'what have I got to lose?' I didn't realise that there were so many exercises you could do on a bike.
"After one class I was hooked!
"The music, the people, and the instructors were creating this amazing atmosphere, where training would be positive, encouraging, fun, friendly, lots of laughs and yet serious on a good level."
She believes that today fitness levels are all different but the support and encouragement is the same for everyone. Kara definitely says its "Your Race, Your Pace".
Since joining the Ki Whanau Gym Kara said she had more energy, more motivation, a clearer mind and felt a lot better in so many different ways.
"I've gone back swimming. Running and riding a road bike was in all honesty way out of my comfort zone, but I love it.
"If you had asked me a year ago about participating in triathlons, I would have said you're crazy! But with all these positive changes I've made with the help and support from everyone involved this has given me the courage and determination to take part in IronMaori events.
"Finding the balance with healthy food has its challenges but, whanau, remember there are some seriously yummy healthy recipes out there that cater for everyone."
She still rewards herself. "I just don't go overboard."
Carolyn hopes her story inspires others to make some positive changes in their lives.
"Even if you start off small; any positive change is a change for the better.
The one thing I've learnt on my journey is that whatever you do in life make sure that you decide to do it for yourself and not for anyone else."