Plenty of New Year’s resolutions are fitness-related. In fact, most people see the New Year as a time to leave bad habits in the past and adopt healthy new attitudes and behaviors. For my family, the driving force behind our fitness resolutions was my young cousin’s recent Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis from just a few months ago.
Back in November, which was American Diabetes Month, my family received the shocking news that my thirteen-year old cousin has Type 2 Diabetes. At first, we thought the doctors might have been wrong; we’d assumed that Type 2 was an adult disease and that there was no way it could affect adolescents. However, the doctor explained that unhealthy lifestyle choices could lead to the development of diabetes at any age. Even scarier are the consequences of diabetes. According to St. Joseph’s Hospital Cardiac Center, if left untreated, diabetes can lead to such things as eye problems and blindness, heart disease, and even neurological problems.
Although we were in shock, and a bit scared, we were happy to discover that there was plenty we could do to reduce symptoms and prevent complications. I decided then and there to help my cousin as much as I could. I also wanted to promote healthier habits in my other cousins so that they could be spared a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis.
A healthy diet
Since health and nutrition have always been top priorities for me, I was excited to share my knowledge with my young family members. First of all, I spoke to them about diet. In the simplest of terms, I explained the glycemic index and instructed them on avoiding foods that cause spikes in blood sugar.
I encouraged them to forego soda in favor of water (they like to add in fruit or cucumbers to add some flavor), cakes and cookies in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables, and starches in favor of whole grains. Since they’d already witnessed the effects of unhealthy foods, they were eager to take my advice. We also like to have frozen yogurt with fruit and nut toppings instead of sugary desserts, and fruit and veggie smoothies for a healthy and yummy snack.
Next on my agenda was exercise. I knew I’d have to get creative and I was up for the challenge. Two or three times a week, I tried to get everyone together for some kind of physical activity. I organized sports games in the neighborhood (a few favorites are soccer, volleyball, tag, capture-the-flag, and kickball), dance parties and even bought interactive video games to get them motivated and moving! I encouraged them to have fun, and before long, they were actually looking forward to our group “workout” sessions.
A couple of months have passed since we were given the news of my cousin’s diagnosis. Since then, she’s gotten her symptoms under control and doesn’t need daily medications to manage her blood sugar. Also, my other cousins have adopted healthy habits they actually enjoy. All in all, our efforts paid off in the form of a much healthier family, and a lot more bonding time, too!
Have any of you Mom’s out there had to deal with a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis? What kinds of things are you doing to prevent and/or manage that diagnosis?
Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has been known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog at http://fullonfit.blogspot.com/!