Meet Gerry Smith. She’s one of the 2023 Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes, and she’ll be sharing updates on her health and wellness journey through the rest of this year. Gerry, age 75, is on a mission to avoid a diagnosis of diabetes. Through a combination of walking, eating healthy, and practicing mindfulness, Gerry is improving her physical and mental well-being with the support of family and community.
I became serious about my health when my doctor told me I was pre-diabetic, and I would have to take medication if my health did not improve. Since I already take prescribed medicine for high blood pressure and cholesterol, I decided to work with a nurse for three months to see what I could do to make significant health improvements. I met with the nurse once a week, and she tracked my A1C and made recommendations for my diet.
I became disciplined about walking with a goal of 10,000 steps per day. After three months, when I met with my doctor, she was shocked that I activated my plan to improve my health so quickly — and that it worked! My A1C was down, and my glucose level had improved. She said, “Just keep doing what you are doing.”
To improve your health and live longer, you have to commit to changing your lifestyle. My motto is movement, meals, and mindset.
Since I started the journey to avoid a diabetes diagnosis, I have improved my daily movement, changed my eating habits (including cooking healthier meals), and explored yoga and meditation to improve my mental well-being as it relates to my health.
I walk five miles (12,000 steps) daily — often with an accountability partner — and I encourage friends to walk at least 30 minutes each day. Consistently, I’ve maintained 12,000 steps a day for four years and I’m so proud! “Step Challenges” are another part of my routine. Currently, I am taking part in a challenge through my sorority, with over a third of our members participating.
Find the Right Fuel
The quality, quantity, and types of food we consume significantly impact whether our bodies remain healthy and our overall longevity.
Over 12 years ago, I started the WeightWatchers® program and became a lifetime member. Despite changes in my consistency with the program over the years, I still maintain a healthy weight. The biggest lifestyle change was what and how I eat. When I met with a nutritionist during my pre-diabetes health planning, she shared the “MyPlate” concept, which aligned well with my WeightWatchers® eating habits. Over the years, I have shifted to cooking more of my own meals. This way, I know the amount of salt, sugar, and processed foods I consume.
If you do not like to cook, there are still many ways to manage your diet, and I will share more on this in a future update. Given that Black and Brown women suffer from higher rates of mortality due in part to cardiovascular disease, we must do everything we can personally to improve our physical health and mental well-being. The food we consume is critical to health maintenance.
The Missing Ingredient: Mindfulness
At first, I didn’t think the practice was for me…
I began my journey to avoid diabetes over five years ago, and I am still going strong due to a combination of daily movement, healthy meals, and a peaceful mind! Our investments in relieving stress are a much-needed complement to our focus on exercise and healthy eating. I started yoga about seven years ago at the urging of my daughter, a devoted yoga practitioner. At first, I didn’t think the practice was for me. But once I started going to the class, I could feel the release of tension in my body. It taught me how to breathe better, and the meditation put me in a calm place.
At the time, I took a three-day happiness class focusing on yoga, breathing, and meditation. It was an eye-opener. Even if yoga and meditation are not for you, there are many ways to relieve stress and improve your mental well-being. I will share more on this topic in a future blog post.
Are You With Me?
I am excited to host a live virtual wellness and exercise session right here on seniorplanet.org, next Wednesday, April 19, 2023. Click here for details! Movement, Meals, and Mindset. Let’s change our lifestyles together through these practices and prepare for long-term good, quality health. Are you with me?
In need of a little motivation to get moving? Join our free online exercise programs, get the latest fitness updates from Senior Planet by signing up for our health and wellness newsletter, and follow us on social media (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) to get to know these awe-inspiring athletes. You might just find a new love for fitness along the way!
Congratulations Gerry! I am so proud of you. I have been on a similar journey for several years now and I am not quite as successful as you are. One of the things that has really helped me is cooking at home and watching my added sugars and salt. I get 8,000 steps per day striving to get back to my at least 10,000 steps per day. You are a great encouragement to me. Keep up the good work!
Congratulations on doing so well with your personal plan. I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic, did NOT do as well as you, and am now a type 2 diabetic. No fun. However I’ve now added meditation with an online plan, and this has helped my blood pressure and insomnia as well as making me much less anxious. There are things we each can do that don’t disturb our routine unduly and help us to feel and BE much better. An inspiring story.
Great article, Gerry. I too found that modifying my nutrition with more healthy foods helped me stop the progression of my osteoporosis along with the osteo med and adding weight lifting to my exercise routine. Looking forward to your Zoom session on April 19th.
Kathy, fellow sponsored athlete for 2023