(WXYZ) — Three out of every 10 adults in Michigan are obese, according to the Michigan department of health.
Michigan is consistently ranked among the top 10 to 15 most obese states in the United States.
Anyone that has struggled to lose weight understands how difficult the journey can be, especially the older you get, the harder it gets to stay on course.
But with determination and willpower to succeed, age just becomes a number, and that’s exactly what 62-year-old Catherine Cordle from Michigan has not only accomplished but is also now a beacon of hope for others.
The grandmother of two has a BMI of an athlete, and she has taken part in several marathons and a triathlon.
"I can leg press over 600lbs. It's insane," said Cordle.
But Cordle didn’t always lead an active lifestyle. Growing up she struggled with weight.
Even though Cordle was blessed with singing and acting talents, her transition from a cute kid to a 250lbs teenager is what killed her confidence.
"A lot of unkind comments when I was younger, but those continued even as an adult," said Cordle. "I remember at a grocery store and the person in front of in line said, do you really think you should be buying those things?"
Her coping mechanism from all the hurt and stress was food, and this only exacerbated the problem both physically and emotionally.
"I felt like I was a failure in a lot of ways," Cordle said.
325 lbs later, Cordle was diagnosed with morbid obesity, but the wake-up call was when she lost her mother due to comorbidities.
"I just want to give myself every chance to be around to see my grandsons grow up," she said.
After exhausting all options, in 2016, Cordle went ahead with bariatric surgery under Dr. Sabir’s care at Ascension Providence Hospital. This was the first step towards her transformation.
"It has made a difference in her life. And her medical condition significantly improved also. She is off of so many medications that she was taking at one time," said Dr. Mubashir Sabir of Ascension Providence Hospital in Novi.
Dr. Sabir refers to Cordle as a poster patient. Not because of the bariatric surgery but because she was determined to use the procedure as a tool to fight obesity.
"The surgery is going to force her to eat less, but it doesn’t control the quantity of food," says Sabir. "She has to make sure that everything she puts in her mouth is healthy and surgery doesn’t do anything to burn calories. It’s up to her to be active."
Even though bariatric surgery is becoming more common in Michigan due to its high obesity rate, Dr. Sabir says it should only be considered when all other options fail.
"They have diabetes, they have a bad heart, they have high blood pressure, they have sleep apnea, but if you can control obesity, all these other things get better," says the doctor.
As for Cordle, the goal is now to get in the best shape of her life and inspire others as she plans to become a certified personal trainer.
"I’m getting a second chance at life. I may not be the fastest one on the course," she says. "But I'm pretty steady. I can complete these things. My body allows me to do that, and that’s the coolest thing ever."
Cordle currently weighs around 125lbs, and her next mission is to compete in the Detroit Free Press marathon later this year.