'I did a 5-minute plank': 3 things this 71-year-old woman did to lose 60 pounds

After disliking how she looked and felt, Mary Carney knew she needed to do something to improve her health.
/ Source: TODAY
By Meghan Holohan

After a lifetime of feeling uncomfortable in her body, Mary Carney wanted to do something about her weight and health. At 71, she was upset by how she looked and wanted to have more energy. But she wasn’t quite sure how to start.

“My clothes looked horrible. I didn’t look good in them,” Carney, now 78, of Summerville, South Carolina, told TODAY. “I didn’t like the way I looked or the way I felt.”

For most of her life, Mary Carney felt uncomfortable in her body. At 71, she decided to try a new workout program. She lost 62 pounds and gained loads of energy. Courtesy Mary Carney

Carney knew that losing weight was imperative to her health.

“I walked down a long stairway, I got halfway down and I was panting, I said to myself, ‘This is silly,’” she said. “I thought ‘I have got to do something to lose the weight and get back that energy I had before.'"

That’s when she found Autumn Calabrese, a popular Beachbody fitness trainer, and her 21 Day Fix workout program. Carney decided to try it and over six months, she went from 197 pounds to about 135 pounds.

“That is crazy at my age,” Carney said. “At the end of the program, I did a five-minute plank.”

While her friends were impressed that she could hold a plank for so long, ride a bike and walk on the beach without getting winded, Carney credits her success to how easy it was to follow the 21 Day Fix. The plan focuses on exercise, including weight training, and developing healthy eating habits, which incorporate fruits, vegetables, lean protein and portion control. Calabrese also provides modifications for workouts so even now at 78 and nursing an injury, Carney can exercise safely.

“She did a great thing for me, made me feel energized coming from a size 18/20 to a size 6/8,” Carney said.

When Mary Carney weighed 197 pounds she struggled to walk down a long hallway or up a flight of stairs. She wanted to lose weight so she could keep up with her family. Courtesy Mary Carney

While Carney lost about 60 pounds in her early 70s, she recently injured herself and regained some of that weight. On top of moving less, she often ate mindlessly in front of the TV and would snack on something sugary, causing the weight to creep back.

When she noticed that she couldn’t keep up with her grandchildren, she knew exactly what she had to do to lose weight and enjoy her time with her 6-year-old twin grandsons Grayson and Gunner.

“Anyone who has grandchildren wants to be able to play with them,” she said. “I want to feel better about myself and be able to play with my grandchildren.”

So she recommitted to the 21 Day Fix. Now, she especially likes that she has containers for the proper portions for meals.

“Calabrese describes what food to put in the containers so you don’t overeat,” she said. “My energy now, I just can’t believe it. I just started back.”

After six months of exercising and healthy eating, Mary Carney achieved some non-scale victories, such as being able to hold a plank for five minutes. Courtesy Mary Carney

Calabrese featured Carney’s story in her recent book “Lose Weight Like Crazy Even if You Have a Crazy Life.” Carney believes that she’s proof that anyone at any age can lose weight and improve their health.

“It is a successful way, a good energetic way of losing your weight through the 21 Day Fix. You won’t hurt yourself. You won’t feel bad,” she said. “You will feel a lot better.”

“Lose Weight Like Crazy Even if You Have a Crazy Life” by Autumn Calabrese

Here are her tips that motivated her to develop healthy habits.

1. Find your why.

Being overweight kept Carney from enjoying her time with her family.

“When your grandchildren come up to you and ask, ‘Can you please get up? Can we take a walk?’ When you are heavier, you are sluggish and you just want to sit and color,” she said. “That woke me up again. I did not have the energy or the stamina.”

While Mary Carney gained some of the weight she lost, she started the 21 Day Fix again and feels impressed by how quickly she felt better. Courtesy Mary Carney

After losing the weight, she's able to be more active with Gunner and Grayson.

“It is just beautiful,” she said.

2. Find something that works for you.

Carney loves that the plan clearly explains what she should eat and how she can exercise and it includes modifications so she can easily work out.

“She planned it out so thoroughly,” Carney said. “It’s a great thing for anybody of any age.”

3. Commit to putting in the effort.

Carney wanted to lose weight so she could enjoy her life and be active with her family. Being committed to her health goals led to her success.

“You can’t lose anything by trying it. You will be amazed at what you can succeed at in life if you commit yourself to doing it,” she said. “I really feel great about myself. I have so much energy.”