Five years ago, Carol Custer was at the end of her rope.

At 232 pounds, the 5-foot-2, 70-year-old Collegeville retiree was obese and unhappy. She even gained more weight so she would meet the criteria for bariatric surgery. Her doctor, who was not wild about the idea of surgery, suggested she give Weight Watchers a try. She signed up in September 2013.

Now the mother of two and grandmother of five is busier than ever. She teaches yoga at Your Yoga Space in Collegeville, volunteers for a reading program at Brooke Elementary School in Royersford, and organizes the annual crafts fair at the historic Pennypacker Mills in Schwenksville.

Why she wanted to make a change.

“I was not happy about myself and for a long time I did not like myself,” Custer said.

Carol Custer participates in a recent class at Your Yoga Space, in Collegeville.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Carol Custer participates in a recent class at Your Yoga Space, in Collegeville.
How she did it.

Custer had been to Weight Watchers years before and lost a few pounds. But, inevitably, she fell into a cycle of gaining weight and then not wanting to return to the meetings until she lost those extra pounds. When she didn’t drop the pounds, she dropped out.

But in 2013, when Custer arrived at her first meeting, she discovered that the leader was her neighbor. It was just the motivation she needed, she said.

“That will make me be more accountable,” she recalled thinking. “I just kept going and the first year I lost 50 pounds.”

Custer loathed the idea of exercise but thought she needed some kind of physical activity to keep up with her weight loss. She had tried yoga on and off for about 50 years so she started again, at first with a calming, gentle yoga. She was then introduced to a more vigorous vinyasa style and was hooked. She even tried heated, power yoga.

When Your Yoga Space opened close by, Custer found a home for her practice. Owner Maryanne Zigoris helped keep her "on the straight and narrow,” Custer said, and encouraged her to get her yoga training certificate, which she completed in January.

“I teach one yoga class a week. It’s part time. I do get paid for that. It’s just a little bit but it is kinda fun," said Custer, who has been married for 49 years.

After the first year, Custer lost an additional 25 pounds and hopes to lose more as her journey continues, she said.

Carol Custer participates in a yoga class.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Carol Custer participates in a yoga class.
What she wants others to know.

“That it can be done. It took me forever, but it can be done.”

Favorite yoga pose: Crow to headstand. Favorite drink: Gin and tonic. Last book read: The Reckoning by John Grisham. Favorite hobby: Making greeting cards. Favorite TV show: “Midsomer Murders” on PBS. Latest accomplishment: Getting her yoga training certificate. Favorite inspirational quote: “Remember, it’s a practice, it’s not a perfect!”

“How I did it” is a new series offering personal stories of journeys to health. If you are willing to allow us to tell your story -- complete with your photo -- email health@philly.com and describe your story.