Sometimes, we reach a point in life where nothing short of a minor catastrophe will inspire change. Two weeks ago, when my mother was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I found myself staring down the barrel of just such an event. My mother is only the most recent member of my family to receive this news – now, every single person over the age of 60 in my immediate family has developed this disease, and while one warning is easy enough to ignore, five in a row tends to make you stop and take notice. I’m always the first among my friends to assert that turning 30 is not the end of the world, but as I near that next milestone I’m struggling to adapt to my changing body. I can’t eat or drink like a college student anymore, but I also couldn’t find the motivation to make major lifestyle changes.
As it turns out, I didn’t need motivation at all. What I needed was a shock.
If the 40 lbs I gained since my divorce in 2014 weren’t enough to inspire me to a healthier lifestyle, the prospect of a life-altering disease may do it. Starting with my mother’s diagnosis, we began a several-days-long research binge. Certainly this isn’t the end of the world as we know it, but it did get us thinking and talking about ways we could respond to new restrictions on her diet and exercise. In solidarity (and because I don’t want to end up in her position 20 years down the road), I’ve upped the ante on my own fitness and health goals. There’s no excuse for me to end a day with less than 10k steps on my FitBit. I spent three hours last night trying to perfect a recipe for baked sweet potato chips, so that when we’re craving something crunchy there is still a healthy option available.
It’s going to be difficult. I slip up. I indulge. But my indulgences are getting to be less frequent. Once I’m comfortable with my new relationship to food, I can look to expanding my fitness goals. We have a gym at work – there’s no reason I can’t bring a change of clothes so that I can work out before heading home. The Phys Ed. instructor here can probably help me get started with machines and weights so that I can begin turning my doughy self into something resembling a healthy 28-year-old woman.
It’ll take discipline. I do worry, because I know it will be a hard road. Losing 40 lbs will be harder than putting it on (all that Hawaiian pizza), and I’m sure there will be times that I feel like giving up. All I have to do, though, is look to my future – my parents, my grandparents. To an extent, we are all doomed to become our parents. We share their biology and genetics, after all. The best I can do is learn from them, and make my changes now before it gets to be too late.