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Within my control

Friday, October 25, 2013

I spent 4 days heading out of town, being out of town and coming back to town with my mother in order to visit her terminally ill sister. I did a lot of thinking on this trip.

My mother recently confided to me that she did not marry well if she wanted to predict the health of her future offspring. 52 years after she made that choice, it's a little late to be sorry... and well, heck... neither my brother nor I would be here if she'd married someone else, would we? But she was warning us to be very, very careful.

Yes, we must be careful. And no, we cannot do anything about our genes. But I have realized that not only are there things I can control, but that I can feel really good about these areas of control.

We can control what we eat. We had been wanting to go to a fine restaurant. Time, not good intentions, prevented that, but I am very glad because we both would have eaten things that two women on low-sodium diets can't have. My mother would have willingly gone through a fast-food drive through, but I went to Safeway twice and brought fruits, vegetables, a chicken, cheese for her, hummus for me and whole grain bread back to the hotel room. We never ate anything but Safeway food the whole time we were gone. It was plenty of food and it was healthy. I got to check off that I ate all the freggies of the rainbow on my BLC weekend challenge! I also stayed well within my calorie range the entire weekend and posted a small loss on Wednesday.

I can exercise. I hurt my ankle and my IT band, so I upped my strength training. It is very important to me to keep my cardiorespiratory fitness up, so I have not stopped running entirely. Instead, I am running half a mile or a mile as a warm up. Then I do kettlebell, dumbbell or barbell workouts with no rest time between sets. I definitely feel not only my muscles, but also my heart - another muscle, after all - working.

While I was out of town, I looked at my family around me. My mother is 26 years older than I am. It is not so hard for me to remember 26 years in the past, so I can now think 26 years into the future. Do I want to be in such poor health? Or deceased, like my father? Or as ill as my aunt? My cousin, the same age as me, with similar body aches and pains, is heavier and hurts so badly she spent most of the weekend on ice packs. I wanted to tell her (and wish I did) how my pain lessened once I started exercising and losing weight. I have to admit I was afraid to have so personal a conversation with someone I haven't seen in years.

I did advise her on physical therapy and a podiatrist. My orthotics, which help me stand straight (I have one short leg) have indeed helped quite a bit with my back pain. (She also has one short leg.) What a simple help that was! And a good physical therapist helped me not only learn helpful exercises, but also helped me get insurance coverage for a traction machine. I bought an inversion table on my own. Again - why did I wait? Yes, these were expensive, but was saving money worth being in pain? It was not.

I am hoping just watching me in action was a motivator for everyone. Two years ago they saw me as a fat girl, but I have slimmed down and gotten stronger. I was even able to pick my aunt up after she fell. She is my height and weighs about what I do! This felt like a major victory to me.

There are so many things all of us who feel cursed by bad genes CAN do. Instead of sitting around popping chocolates into our mouths and griping about our hearts, our lungs, our knees, or whatever else is making us feel fat and sick and ugly and hurting... we must think: what can we do TODAY, TOMORROW and EVERY WEEK from here on out, for the rest of our lives? What can we do to motivate our loved ones to join our journeys with us?

I'd like to welcome you to join me on the path to being our healthiest, happiest, and most pain-free possible selves!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • MONIKA1948
    Great blog, Larisa! You are an inspiration to us all! emoticon
    2519 days ago
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    2520 days ago
    Wonderful and inspiring blog!!!!! And yes, all we can do is take care of ourselves the best we can given our individual genetic makeup!
    2523 days ago
    2523 days ago
    Girl -- YOU REALLY ROCK! What an inspiring blog and role model!!! Under some grim circumstances, you really made some great choices and modeled just how it can be done! You are so right in concentrating what we CAN do and not what we cannot! You are living proof that often you can do what you believe you can't anyway! Right, Ms Runner?

    I am really proud of you and hope you can soak in that pride yourself. You've earned it well and deserve it! I bow to you today!!! emoticon
    2523 days ago
    Fantastic blog. I hope your cousin sees what strides you have made and considers them for herself.
    2524 days ago
  • MINEA999
    Well said! It really is about owning what you DO have control over and doing what you can. Not concentrating on what you can't.
    2524 days ago
    I join you! emoticon emoticon
    2524 days ago
    I'm not sure of the exact percentages, but most of what I've read has said our genetics is only something like 40% of our general disease fate... Lifestyle (exercise and eating) is a bigger factor. We have a lot of power to take those poor genes (both of my birth parents were dead by 55!) and outsmart 'em! emoticon
    2524 days ago
    emoticon You are definitely my hero today, Larisa!! AWESOME blog!! I'm so happy that you are on your way to EXCELLENT health - and who knows what healthy living will do to combat bad genes? I watched my mom die from the side effects of diabetes a little over 30 years ago and it changed my life forever. I determined then that while I might not be able to avoid the disease (I have so far thank goodness!) I would do everything in my power to avoid the complications she had. Good circulation (cardio) and controlling sugar will go a long way.

    emoticon You are a fabulous role model for your family - I hope they will take heed!! emoticon
    2524 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14270285
    Yep, genes play a big part in the make-up, but I find I use that as an excuse, too sometimes. Mostly when things hurt a bit and I don't want to exercise, lol. I love the way you used the supermarket to keep the drive-thru at bay--excellent. Great blog! Hope your Mom is doing okay ;-).
    2524 days ago
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