Before her studies Caro was fit, slim and active. Then came college and two jobs in two cities. The pounds increased, the confidence in her body decreased – until Caro pulled the rip cord: She first registered for Taekwondo, thus gaining new energy and finding her sporty self again through a major sports project.
Sportsfriends 2018: Caro in interview
Women’s Health: Caro, you are a real sportsman today. Can you briefly list the sports you practice?
Caro: “To list briefly” will be difficult, but I will try: Taekwondo, running, cycling, swimming, wakeboarding, yoga, skiing and functional fitness. I think that was’s.
That’s quite a lot. Does that leave time for hobbies?
I wouldn’t know what else to do besides sports… What do people do in their free time who don’t do sports? I really need to do some research on that! All kidding aside: I am an enthusiastic globetrotter – my husband and I said yes to each other in Hawaii – and I like going to concerts. I also have a rather unusual “talent”. But that is not worth mentioning.
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You’ll have to tell us about the talent now!
All right. I can balance five spoons on my face at once. It looks stupid, but a lot of people enjoy it when I show them.
This definitely shows coordination! Speaking of which: What was your entry into the sport?
I have been a member of the gymnastics club since I was a small child, I started vaulting at the age of 6. At 10 I rode for the first time and did this until I went to university.
Taekwondo was Caro’s first step back to well-being © Stephan Wieser
Why did you stop?
In my basic studies I had less time for this at first, but for my main studies I had to move from Cologne to Saarbrücken. From then on, unfortunately, I gave it up completely. At the same time my lifestyle became unhealthier. I smoked, ate too much, instead of exercise, exams, my relationship at the time and parties filled my everyday life.
That hasn’t changed even after graduation?
Not at first. After university I commuted between Cologne and Saarbrücken for 2 jobs, with shift work and weekend work. Because of the constant back and forth I somehow only had half a life at both places – although I had great friends and exciting jobs. When I wasn’t working, I sat behind the wheel on the motorway. This led to the fact that I somehow lost myself.
When did you pull the emergency brake?
One morning in the bathroom, in front of the mirror and on the scales – a very bad mixture. Before my studies I weighed 67 kilos, now there was a flashing 94. I stood there and didn’t know who I was or what I actually wanted, what was important to me, what I wanted to achieve and what was good for me – I couldn’t answer all that anymore. In my mirror image I saw neither joy of life nor self-confidence. Instead, there was a huge knot of pent-up anger, sadness, disappointment and stress in me.
I had to see my doctor because I was having heart palpitations and sleeping problems. Her statement actually triggered something in me: “You bring everything you need to be an athlete. Why do you move so little?”
So you got yourself together?
The first reaction was rather: “Sport? ICH ?” But I listened to my doctor and thought about what I might enjoy. Then my dad came up with the idea of doing a warm up in the doorway in front of the Taekwondo while I was playing with my building blocks. The memory was so concise that I looked for a Taekwondo school. Then I stood in front of the door, heard the battle cries inside and almost didn’t dare to come in. But I took the step and it was just right for me.
Caros tried out 52 sports last year © Stephan Wieser
From then on it was a sporting success?
Definitely, but slowly. Because in my head, I was still the panting fat one. But in retrospect, my body felt good again very quickly when doing sports. For example, for a long time I didn’t dare to do turns or jumped kicks. Overcoming these inner blockades and holding out was actually my greatest sporting challenge.
At the same time you have also reorganized your life.
That was also very important. I moved back to Cologne and started a new job there. Through Taekwondo I met a very loving man, to whom I am married today. I have turned my back on smoking, I eat healthier food overall and at parties I sometimes go home earlier because I want to walk the next morning. And for 2017, I have something really big in mind: 52 sports in 52 weeks.
A new sport every week. What was that?
Great! The feeling of biting through and being rewarded in the end is so precious and great that I wanted to have it again and again. And I did: What can I actually do and what great sports are out there? That’s how I got the idea for #52weeks52sports.
What sports did you play?
There are a few things I always wanted to try out, like surfing, snowboarding or hoop dancing. It was clear that I would try skiing and running. Diving and kite-buggy came up spontaneously. For many things people approached me, so I came to wheelchair basketball, ballet, golf, BMX -racing un to the Highland Games.
Through sport and exercise Caro regained confidence in her body © Stephan Wieser
Has the project changed you?
Absolutely! Above all, there was no sport at that time that I could not do at all. Sure, in the beginning I was cautious and reserved, but I became more courageous, more open and got involved in everything new. My husband was a great support, has gone through a lot and was happy to be carried away by me. Above all, however, I have rediscovered my sporty self – and I will definitely not let it go.
Do you remember anything special from the project?
The Highland Games were one of 2 key experiences. That’s when I first had the thought: There really is a suitable sport for everyone. Whether you run 10 kilometers in 45 minutes or throw thick tree trunks – both are worth the same as long as the person has fun.
That’s the best setting. Has your relationship with your body changed?
We understand each other much better now! I’m staggering at 85 kilos now, which is a bit more than I’d like. ABER I’m just learning to like my body. Because it does great things for me, even though it’s hard to carry. For years I’ve struggled with diets, constantly going up and down. Last year’s project helped me to get closer to myself again and to see what a miracle the body is – no matter if there is a roll of bacon or a dent in the tissue. Sport is also possible without a six-pack.
“There is the right sport for everyone – you just have to dare to find it” © Stephan Wieser
Which sport did you discover for yourself through the project?
Strangely enough, the running has stayed. Although I used to hate it. At least I wanted to try it again for my project. So I registered with a friend for the Women’s Run in Cologne. At the finish I had a little runner’s high, my second key experience during the project. There was so much energy on the track too, after that I was simply infected with the running virus. Today I am running according to a training plan and in September there will be a mini-triathlon.
At the moment I do so much endurance sport in one week, I wouldn’t have done that in a month before.
What do you find special about running?
First of all it is a thoroughly honest sport, it is about your own performance and when I fight, it is against my own time. It’s also wonderfully flexible, I can tie my shoes and get going anywhere, at home, in the forest or on my city trips. I hardly ever run with music anymore, because I like to be in nature and follow my thoughts. In the beginning I puffed like this, but as a beginner I “only” walked for a minute, one walked. Today I can easily run for an hour and even accelerate.
What are your sporting goals?
Being healthy and happy – as banal and trite as it may sound. But that’s why I do sport. I won’t perform at my best anywhere, I prefer to be versatile. And if I manage to combine family, work and private life with Taekwondo, running, swimming, cycling, wakeboarding, yoga and weight training, then I have achieved my sporting goals.