Cabaret performer Dolly Rocket has turned her back on abuse, ill health and addiction, finding inner strength and confidence in her sixth decade.
As voluptuous diva Dolly Rocket, Karen Sharman is a veteran of the Brighton cabaret scene, regularly performing and compèring at Proud Cabaret and Stanmer House. Her charming, larger-than-life character sums up everything we love about outrageous, eccentric Brighton and she is an essential presence at Proud’s popular supper club and burlesque shows. But behind the imposing costumes and cheery personality lies a story of someone who is fighting to get her life back on track through a series of fundamental lifestyle changes. Here, she shares her enlightening story with Silver Magazine…
“I am 53, and I have never felt as young, strong and sexy. I am also, quite literally, working on saving my own life. Sounds dramatic? Well it is. At 37, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – a degenerative disease. Then, three years ago, I finally got out of a horrendous, abusive five-year relationship. This relationship really set me back – he was addicted to alcohol, cannabis, prescription drugs and sex: what a heady mix that made. I really believed I could help him, but in reality I joined him in this addictive downward spiral. And it’s taken a good two-and-a-half years to get over this. Then my menopause started, so I have the joys of that to deal with, too.
‘I am also, quite literally, working on saving my own life’
“That, together with IBS, insomnia, and then sleeping in for way too long, left me feeling as if all I had to look forward to was getting old and ill. Things came to a head last year when I almost lost my younger, fitter brother to an aortic dissection, so I thought it was about time I got my own failing health in check. I decided it was time for me to forgive myself and to start cherishing myself with good care and love – so I started making some big changes.
“A good friend of mine told me about an amazing woman – Lisa Shabbas – who is a trainer at BMF (British Military Fitness) in Brighton. I looked her up on Facebook, sent her a message, and the rest, as they say, is history. I clicked with her straight away. I liked the fact she came from a military background; I knew she was disciplined and wouldn’t take any shit or excuses. What I didn’t realise is how generous and loving she could be. I had found my expert – someone I could trust, and who had my best interests at heart.
‘If you’re doing it because you think you should, or because of pressure from others then you will most likely fail’
“I have always had a fantasy about having a super-fit, muscular, toned body. I have, at various times in my life, lost huge amounts of weight and gotten fit, and I have always done this on my own. But this time I’m using focused, expert help – and the results are astounding. She’s had me in bed early, up early, and out of the house and walking in the fresh air early.
“The first thing I did was Lisa’s 30-day detox. I had read a number of great books before I met Lisa, including The Obesity Code By Dr Jason Fung (a brilliant book) and Patrick Holford’s Say No to Diabetes. I had been preparing for a very long time, so when I met Lisa I was ready to take full advantage of what she had to offer. If you’re not honest with yourself; if you’re doing it because you think you should or because of pressure of others then you will most likely fail, whatever you do.
“The detox was hard: I had very bad night sweats, and, initially, insomnia. I have spent most of my adult life on one diet or another. But Lisa has got me eating properly and taking the right supplements. I’m back in the gym, and my body is transforming before my very eyes…
“Much has been written about turning type 2 diabetes around, and I am determined not to die young from the complications of diabetes. My diabetes was not well managed last year, but I recently had some blood tests and my HbA1c levels are that of a non-diabetic. I have halved my medication, and in the next six months I expect to be off the Metformin altogether.
‘The detox was hard: I had very bad night sweats, and insomnia. I have spent most of my adult life on one diet or another’
“For me, it’s all about making sure I prepare. I’m lucky that my work is at the weekends so I have a lot of time for myself during the week. I have time to shop and I make sure I always have everything I need in the house – this is very important. It’s also about being aware of what your triggers are for bingeing on foods that aren’t good for you. So I have to put myself first right now. I cannot let anything or anyone derail me from my purpose. The motivation, as I have already said, is to save my life – and it’s also about taking full advantage of this wonderful life. There is so much opportunity out there for us women in our 50s!
“I’m going to keep doing what feels great, and to keep going with my new lifestyle. As I exude confidence, good health and vitality, I notice all sorts of opportunities opening up for me. Life is exciting again!
“My only regret is that I didn’t feel ready to do this sooner. I feel I have a positive future – one where I am in control. There are lots more adventures in this gal yet!!”
Professional photos by Eddie Adams
Dolly’s Great Start Porridge
This highly nutritious breakfast will keep you going until lunchtime
30g gluten-free porridge oats
200ml coconut milk (or milk of your choice)
1 tbsp chia seeds (soaked overnight in water or milk)
1 scoop pea protein (Arbonne or Pulsin)
1 tbsp cinnamon (or to taste)
1 tsp raw organic cocoa
Put the ingredients in a pan, stir together and heat gently. Finish with a handful of blueberries.