Written by Arlene Shovald
Charlene Beagle became determined to lose weight after she got wedged into an airline seat and couldn’t get out. Having long legs also made it uncomfortable. “I didn’t want to ask for a seat belt extender,” she said with a laugh. “It was embarrassing.”
It was then she decided to lose weight. At 5’10” tall, she weighed 308 pounds, had a lot of aches and pains and needed a walker or sometimes two canes to get around. Now, three years later she is down to 195 pounds and rarely uses a cane.
For an incentive, she had her “significant other,” Roy Kelly, build her a wooden seat the same size as an airline seat. “My goal was to fit into it,” she said.
Cutting back on carbs, sugar and salt and starting an exercise program got her going. She visits the gym almost every morning, at 5:30 when usually no one is using the machines. About 2 p.m. she says she starts to think she is starving so she and Roy often go for a walk. The Renew Active program with her insurance pays for the gym which is a great help since right now she’s living on a fixed income.
By the time she fit into the improvised airline seat she had gone from a size 22 to a size 14 and sometimes even a 12. “The strange thing,” she said, “is I don’t feel any lighter but I do feel better.”
She has lived in Salida 27 years, moving from Cadillac, Michigan to Leadville to be near her sister and then to Salida. Her first job was in patient care at Columbine Manor. Then she went to work for Wal-Mart for 23 years, retiring four years ago. Now she’s adjusting to a new life as a retiree.
“Chaffee County has a lot to offer, but I still miss Michigan,” she admits. “I love the hot springs but I’m still a “fresh water girl.”
One important interest locally is her long-time membership in Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, a philanthropic organization whose purpose is to “elevate the character of man.”
“We used to hold an annual spaghetti dinner to raise funds for our projects and that was fun but we stopped a few years ago because the lodge hall needed too much work and people weren’t coming anymore,” she said. “Today everyone has two or three jobs and they don’t have time to join or participate, so these helping organizations are going away.”