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by Carole Carson, AARP, November 21, 2008
Everything is connected . . . No one thing can change by itself.
When I started my makeover, Debbie Wagner, coordinator of the Wellness Center at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, offered to add a medical perspective. As part of a "Personal Wellness Profile," I completed a lengthy questionnaire and underwent various tests and measures—flexibility, blood pressure, weight, body fat percentage, lung capacity, and so on.
The result was a personalized 20-page report. Among other red alerts, I was in the 90th percentile for risk of heart disease. The risk of cancer was also elevated because of excessive body fat, which amounted to nearly 40 percent of my total body mass.
The physiologist who reviewed the report encouraged me to eat differently and exercise. If I implemented the changes, my physiological age would be a decade or more less than my chronological age. Although the calendar would say I was 60, my body would perform like that of a 50-year-old.
Despite this life-critical information, I still found making lifestyle changes tough. There were so many hidden rewards and benefits in the way I had once lived. In the past, I had escaped responsibility for my health by shifting the responsibility to my doctor. And why not? I believed that any medical consequences of my self-indulgent lifestyle, if they occurred at all, would happen in the far distant future. Now much older, I wanted to go whole hog—eating and drinking as I pleased.
To further complicate matters, living alongside the hedonist in me was the straitlaced contrarian who believed that I should be sufficiently self-disciplined to make necessary changes. Because I believed I should be strong, it never occurred to me to get help.
No wonder I'd tried and failed in the past!
Now I had help; I had the support of Gayle, my husband, and the countless others who were following my progress in the newspaper. Would I make my goals by my birthday, November 5? I had no idea. But I was enjoying the progress so far. I vowed again not to give up!
Next: Carole starts to rediscover herself.
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