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Lori Alaways: A Matter of Life and Death

For many of us, weight problems are tied up with unhappiness and spiritual emptiness. Carole tells the story of a woman who discovered that spiritual fitness is key to physical fitness.

Lori Alaways, 49, of Nevada City, Calif., hasn't always been as fit as she is today. As far back as she can remember, she was "chubby." Overweight in high school, she and her sister began an unhealthy cycle to lose weight. Alternating among starving herself, over-exercising, and binging, Lori suffered from powerful feelings of guilt and depression. At age 37, Lori's sister died, having been both bulimic and anorexic.

Lori found her way out of the trap through spiritual healing. Reaching her highest weight (well over 200 pounds), she's since lost 70 pounds. And she's done a great job of keeping it off. To strengthen her knees, Lori began bike riding with a group of women. It was the start of a lifestyle of riding, swimming, walking, and running, which she continues today.

The same group of women encouraged Lori to compete in her first triathlon in 2003 by teaching her how to endurance-swim and shift her bike on steep hills. Thanks to their help, at age 44, she completed the triathlon.

She continues to swim, cycle, and take classes at her gym, among other activities, to keep her heart and lungs strong.

Having been susceptible to the notion that looking perfect for others was important (even to the point of harming herself), she now teaches family and friends through her example that what's important is being strong and healthy on the inside.

Lori also believes strongly in feeding her heart and spiritual self. Just as she initially prayed for help with her weight problems, she continues an active spiritual life.

"What's important," Lori said, "is living for things, not of external value, but of eternal value."

She also said, "It's great to see women at the gym who are clearly in their 70s and 80s. They're great encouragement to me."

What Lori will probably never realize is how, by her example, she encourages the rest of us.

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