I can still hear our now-grown son as he got back in the car on his first day of Kindergarten, in a rush to tell me: “Guess what we learned, Mom? Hard work pays off!” Which may not always be true, but it’s a starting place, at least.
Did I think about working to stay healthy when I was a young adult? Not too much – I just was healthy, without especially thinking about it. I was active, ate reasonably well, didn’t have much flab, and enjoyed activities like hiking, swimming, boating (with a small footwell sailboat, nothing elaborate), bowling on occasion, doing walks for various charities and causes.
Did I ever actively plan to work at being or getting healthy? No. I backed into it. I gained about twenty pounds with my one and only pregnancy; life happened, and I only managed to get ten of those pounds off while that child was growing up.
In 2015, I discovered (or rather my primary care doc discovered) that I had problems with blood glucose levels. My clinic referred me to a six week diabetes education class, where I learned the basics of diet and exercise for diabetes prevention. I’d thought I was a healthy eater, especially after we revised our diet following my husband’s triple bypass a decade earlier. But there were specifics about carbs and fiber that got left out of that training. The exercise information focused on aerobic activities. I bought a Fitbit, started keeping track of steps, and lost the other ten pounds. Living in the Southwest, we have many marvelous options for hiking.
By 2020, those habits weren’t taking care of the problem. I have a genetic load for both diabetes and Alzheimer’s, and I desperately want to avoid having to use medication to control my blood sugar levels. My doc referred me to a year-long weekly class (on Zoom, during the pandemic) which was superb.
There, in addition to further refining diet (and writing everything down while I straightened that out), I also learned about the role of strength training. Strong muscles pull sugar out of the bloodstream and put it to work. After three months of following the new guidelines, I saw my blood sugar drop back down below the threshold. That class ended a year ago, and I’m still maintaining those levels. And the workouts. And the walking.
So I was more than thrilled when Hubs sent me the following article:
Combining weight training with another activity could lower your risk of early death, study finds.
Not only am I likely to live longer, I’m likely to be healthy enough to enjoy a lot of those years.
P.S. If any of you readers are concerned about your blood sugar level, you might be able to access the DPP Diabetes Prevention Program I attended. It’s put out by the CDC (US), and in Arizona it was free to participate.