Friday, April 18, 2014

A Friend's Insight on Living Healthier As We Get Older


Kari is one of my oldest friends from high school.

She's the friend who I used to share The Corner Booth with at all hours of the day and night, writing on napkins and talking about anything and everything. We did a lot of growing up and learning who we were in those years, and although it became a less common meetup in the college and post-college years, we kept it going as much as possible up until the time I left southeast Michigan for Indiana (a whole 10 years ago).

There was a time, close to a decade ago now, that Kari and her husband seriously mulled the idea of
following Suzi and I to Indiana and they even had made a move on a house not too far from where we live, south of Indy. But that wasn't meant to be, and they've stayed up in our hometown of St. Clair Shores, Michigan and are thriving there as well as you possibly can.

Looking back, Kari is one of the best writers I've ever had the pleasure of knowing and calling a friend. She taught me a lot about myself through writing, and back in those days when there was more creative writing and poetry than journalism, it was always refreshing to have a good friend and fellow writer like Kari in my corner.

And of course, she kept up that beautiful writing by penning a poem for my engagement newspaper to Suzi back in 2003, and had a beautiful reading at our wedding. Our friendship has evolved to mostly one online through Facebook updates thanks to the long distance, but we do our best to keep in touch as much as possible.

Which is why I asked Kari to write something that I could post here on The D-Corner Booth, and as it turns out it has a particular diabetes connection... So, please enjoy what my friend Kari has written below!


A Guest-Post by Kari Navarra Woycik

As we get older, not old - just older, our body changes. This isn't shocking information. What is shocking is the moment we realize it. For most folks, it's a casual discovery; a stiff back, a grey hair. For others, it's a seemingly paralyzing, anxiety-ridden event. And some, (read: me) get both.

My husband located my first white hair in the middle of a contraction while in labor with our oldest child. I wretched my back one idle Wednesday and spent the next two days wishing I owned a cane. After a friend's wedding, and two glasses of wine, I needed four days to recover. Not from drinking, but from staying up too late. While reading a comic book with my son, I pulled the book further away from my face so I could see it. (I still blame the bad font on this one). In detail I described the pain in my ankle to my doctor. It's arthritis.

All of them just moments, little almost, laughable, moments.


  

And then I took my mother to see our family physician. It was a general check up. I should have been home, making lunch within the hour. An hour later we were at the hospital. As a complication from diabetes, she was in jeopardy of losing her leg. Thankfully, she didn't. It was a long recovery of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, social workers and eventually a move to an incredible Senior Living Villa.

Today, she's vibrant, active and tremendously healthier.

But, in that moment, the doctors voices slowed, and MY future flashed before my eyes. I share DNA and, let's be honest, a few personality traits with this woman. Was I looking at my life in the future?

There are things we cannot predict, control or change. BUT, there are certainly ways to improve ones health. Or, stack the deck in your favor, if you will.

I didn't know where to start. Sure, a few things were "no brainers"....

Quit smoking and lose weight. It couldn't be about being a skinny non smoker. If it was I'd be shame-eating an entire pizza and lighting one cigarette off another within the week. It had to be a deeper, more conscious, and, honestly, more fulfilling alteration.

As I researched everything from alternative medicine to bariatric surgeries, diets to detoxes, yoga to yogurt, I realized becoming truly healthy, would be all encompassing. It's a BIG project. And it doesn't happen over night.

But, it happens over night. (You read that correctly).

It begins with some thoughtful preparation a good night sleep. Some folks are blessed with the ability to dive all in. They are able to commit with focus. I am NOT one of these people. I have to go slow, create healthy habits, and then, build on those. So, where do you start when you have to make A LOT of changes?

Here are my beginning “baby” steps to creating a lifelong transition into healthy living.
  1. Research like the FBI. In this day and age there is no excuse to be uneducated. Talk to others, read everything about being healthy that you can get your hands on and (naturally) always talk to your doctor. Listen to your own body it WILL let you know what works best for you. 
  2. Rome was not built in a day. It was built to last. Pick only one or two things to ADD (not subtract) from your routine. If you walk around thinking “I can’t do this” or “I can’t to that”, negativity will consume you. For now, begin adding healthy habits. You can “take away” later. Allow yourself time to make lasting improvements. 
  3. Begin today. Right now. I am a big fan of having a plan. Plans and lists are the glue that keeps me out of padded rooms. But, you don’t need a game strategy to choose a glass of water over a bottle of soda. I don’t care if you are reading this at 11 p.m. RIGHT NOW you can make one beneficial choice.
  4. Be teachable. You will slip up, fall and maybe even, flat out fail. These are teachable moments! What worked? What didn’t? Assess and begin again stronger and smarter.
  5. Have faith. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and although you are not perfect, you are perfectly designed. You already posses all you need to become a better you. You are capable and strong, more so than you may ever realize. Have a little faith and move forward. I believe in you.
Here's to healthier living, doing good and living well!

Kari

2 comments:

StephenS said...

Here here! Great advice. Thanks!

Colleen said...

Nice writing, Kari!
Good advice for everyone and I'm glad your mom is okay.