There are only a couple of days left to make your decision about a New Year’s resolution. Whether one typically makes a formal list of resolutions for the next year, or not, January is when good intentions and healthier lifestyle choices tend to get more attention. On one Internet site of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions, “getting fit” and losing weight were Number 2 and 3 respectfully.
For some of us, the challenge of keeping a resolution may be what it takes to make a significant change in our lifestyle. The approach of others may be of goal setting for the next year and included in the set of goals may be healthier living. Whatever the approach, lifestyle change can happen even in some of the most unlikely candidates. I know, I saw it this Christmas with my sister. Here is a person who spent her entire working career in the medical industry who continued to smoke and eat anything she liked. When the research suggested it would be healthier if salt shakers were removed form the dinner table, she added a second one. Her attitude just seemed to broadcast — no one is going to dictate a lifestyle for me.
Things changed last Christmas. Just prior to making her annual visit to Texas for the holidays she had a physical check-up and the preliminary results of the tests suggested she may be developing diabetes. She was rather somber during her visit, but not any less defiant. Her approach seemed to be they are mistaken, even though diabetes has been rather prevalent with our mother’s side of the family. After she returned home, she received confirmation that indeed she had type 2 diabetes. Often called “adult onset diabetes” type 2 is the most common form of the disease. While genetics are a factor, the real culprit is how we live our lives. According to a special report in American Profile, the Sunday magazine, the number one cause of type 2 diabetes is being overweight. We were really concerned because given her history, making a lifestyle change was going to be very difficult — if not impossible.
We took her to the airport yesterday to make her return trip home after a one week stay with us. I was stuck by what a difference a year made. She did not say if she had made a formal resolution or if she had an epiphany. She may have really been scared, but she was not the same woman. One noticed the weight loss when she first arrived, 40 pounds is a lot to lose for anyone, but really apparent on a female. The other changes were somewhat more subtle. She was talkative, but absent was the penchant for disagreeing and arguing that always seemed to be there, especially with me. My wife had to caution me a couple of times as I ratcheted up the volume preparing to do battle. She demonstrated genuine interest with her discourse, she was engaging. One could tell she had been paying attention to whomever it is that is helping her control her disease. She talked about food portions and a balanced diet. She actually went for a couple of long walks with us, one of them at the state park that almost qualified as hiking.
American Profile said that more than 20 million Americans have diabetes and as many as one-third of those do not know they have it. People most at risk are those who are overweight, don’t exercise and have a family history of the disease. My sister may have been scared into changing her lifestyle because of her age and her experience. Her career provided her with the knowledge that with diabetes the risks increase for kidney failure, heart disease and blindness. The good news is she, like many people can manage their disease with diet and exercise alone. It is also the formula to prevent the disease from occurring. Two more days is enough time to resolve for a healthier lifestyle — it can be done — I’ve seen it. Happy New Year!
Robert Brincefield is publisher of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Sunday. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.