Meet Carole Taddei.
The 78-year-old mother of three and grandmother of eight moved to Marco Island in 1990 with her golf-loving husband, Jim. Prior to that, they lived in Bucks County, PA, where Jim was a printing ink salesman and Carole was a psychiatric nurse. Between family and work, Carole spent the majority of her time nursing and nurturing others.
Today, Carole is a four-time cancer survivor — breast, thyroid and skin —and has learned manage her Type II Diabetes. Her secret: Exercise. In 2010, after her first two rounds with cancer and her diabetes diagnosis, Carole committed to a regular exercise routine, making the Marco Island branch of Curves her home-away-from-home.
“It was time to do something for me,” Carole remembers. “I thought, ‘You need to get yourself in shape and enjoy living.’ I got my energy back and my zest for life back. I could start thinking positive again, and then really start benefiting others.”
Four or five times each week, Carole would head to Curves for her 30-minute circuit training workout, and sneak in a cardio workout walking the one-mile roundtrip to Curves and then home. The workouts combined with her weekly golf outing and regular chores around the house helped Carole drop 16 pounds and cut her blood pressure medication in half.
When cancer struck again, Carole was ready. Armed with her workout, she was stronger mentally and physically than she had ever been. “I had been through it before, and I had survived it. I knew I could do it again. The disease didn’t rule me, I ruled the disease. I had a much better attitude this time.”
Surviving two more bouts of cancer with the help of her exercise regime broadened Carole’s horizons as well. Last October, Deborah Spalvins, who owns Curves-Marco Island, invited Carole to speak about her experiences with cancer at a special event she was hosting during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“It was easier to talk to people about my experience,” says Carole. “One lady came up to me and told me she had never had a mammogram before and that because of my story she was going to make an appointment for one right away.”
Carole’s experiences also led her to push herself harder in her workouts, and in February of this year when Curves introduce a new, more intense Jillian Michaels (of “The Biggest Loser” fame) optional workout, Carole was the first to sign up.
The planks, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, modified yoga poses and high kicks did not phase Carole much. She worked through the moves slowly with Curves instructor Gina Mathews, learning a couple of them each time she hit the gym. Now, she does the full work-out — which incorporates the standard Curves circuit machines with mat work — at least three times a week, and encourages other Curves members to give it a whirl.
“I never did a push up in my life,” Carole quips. “Now, I can do push ups and planks.”
Spalvins is mystified and inspired by Carole: “I’d like to put some 20-year-olds up against Carole. She is an incredible inspiration. She is on a mission to not get off track.”
Carole feels like her journey with cancer and exercise has brought her full circle, and for that, she is thankful. “This is one of the first real things I did for me,” she explains.
“I am a nurturer by nature and what I chose to do in life. They always say that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. I always preached that as a psych nurse, and now I put it into practice.”
Those who are interested in joining Carole at Curves-Marco Island to try the new Jillian Michaels workout should call Deborah at 239-389-0016, or visit the Curves website at www.curves.com.