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Young woman heals from grief and weight gain with fitness

Carter honored at BAC virtual fitness gala

Courtesy Photos Above are the before (left) and after photos of McKayle Carter, who was awarded the top inspiration story of the year at the 2021 Bay Athletic Club Fitness Inspired Gala, held virtually via Zoom on Jan. 16. She has lost 85 pounds with her new active lifestyle.

ALPENA — McKayle Carter was “absolutely shocked” that her story was selected as the most inspiring of the year.

“I’ve been watching the stories this year, and there have been some incredible ones,” Carter said on Thursday. “Especially considering how turbulent of a year this has been.”

Being selected was “so exciting and so humbling,” she said. “Because they were all so amazing and all so inspiring.”

“Loss. Depression. Self-Doubt. Obesity. Anxiety. A debilitating car crash. These are just a few of the battles that Bay Athletic Club’s honorees fought to become its inspiration stories of the year,” a press release by BAC’s Sarah Morrison announced.

“BAC’s annual Fitness Inspired Gala on Saturday, Jan. 16, had the makings of a Hollywood movie, but the stories were not fabricated or glossed over or fancied up. They were real-life struggles and successes in a small town with a big crusade to live happier,” Morrison continued.

The top inspiration story of the year was awarded to 23-year-old Carter, a young woman who lost her father, Mike Carter, to cancer and had her life turned upside down during the pandemic.

“Carter was a collegiate athlete when her father passed away. She quit (athletics) to save any energy she could muster toward graduating,” the release explained.

“I swam twice a day,” Carter said. “I was very athletic.”

She said her father died from liver cancer.

“Once he passed, it was a very difficult situation for me,” she said. “I really was going through the motions of grief and depression … I gained all this weight, I stopped swimming, I quit the swim team at my college. I just really stopped prioritizing my health.”

Then an incredible opportunity came along.

“After college, things were looking up when she landed her dream job in Germany, teaching English,” Morrison said in the release.

“I was there for seven months, and then the COVID pandemic hit, and I was asked by the program to leave and to come home early,” Carter said. “So it was heartbreaking.”

She said she walked a lot in Germany and had started losing weight while there, so it was sad to halt that progress. Carter moved back in with her mother, DeAnn Roesner, (the 2018 Most Inspiring Story of the Year) and had to find something positive to focus on. She turned to fitness at Bay Athletic Club.

“I took a lot of inspiration from her, honestly,” Carter said of her mother. “I had seen her transformation.”

She said while they were at the hospital visiting her dad during his health struggles, they noticed “happy people” in the group workout studio.

“I took a lot of inspiration from her and that idea that I didn’t want to just sit at home and feel sorry for myself,” Carter recalled. “I wanted to take action.”

So she started working out at BAC, eating better, and meeting with a trainer.

“In a little over a year, Carter has lost 85 pounds and found a positive, solid foundation to keep building a life on,” Morrison stated in the press release.

Carter noted that small changes and establishing new routines are keys to success in health and fitness.

“It was such a unique time in my life where I could just focus purely on myself and making those changes,” Carter said. “And now that it’s just part of my life, it’s there. It stuck.”

Carter is not just a BAC member — she is now the fitness and communications coordinator for BAC.

“I find that change is so much easier when you focus on little changes that you can make,” she said.

In the past, she has wanted to overachieve and set lofty, unreachable goals, so she set herself up for failure. As an example, she would plan to go to the gym seven days a week right at the start.

“It’s not realistic,” she said. “Make little changes. Set goals that you know you can achieve.”

Making your past self proud is another factor.

“If 16-year-old me were to look at me today, would I be proud of myself?” Carter asked. “Who are you and who do you want to be? And how do you work towards that?”

BAC went virtual with a Gala via Zoom that had more than 80 people tune in. By audience vote, Carter was picked as the most inspiring story from all of BAC’s “60 Second Inspiration” stories of 2020. These stories that highlight transformations through fitness air Monday nights on the local news on WBKB-TV. Carter won $100 cash and a $100 donation toward an organization of her choice.

Jessica Stauffer, Jim Glimore, Sarah Wetherhult and Mary-Margaret Moore were the other finalists.

Other inspiration stories highlighted in 2020 included the following fitness fans: Kalene Krisan and Brenna Decker, Paula Cosbitt, Kaitlyn Frisch, Mike and Judy Sumeracki, Beckie Dault, Irma McDonald, Carrie Barkley, Dorothy Pintar, Gail Atkins, Cheryl Fenstermaker, Mike Daugul, Kim Schultz and Cody Wenzel.

In addition to celebrating the successes of these individuals, BAC is celebrating 15 years in Alpena.

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