New Year Resolutions and Healthy Eating Habits: Josh’s StoryJan 17, 2019 Posted in Community No Comment
Forego the fads and stick to the changes that can last
Often, the new year has us thinking about healthier habits. One of the most common New Year’s resolutions—if not the most common—is to lose weight/diet/get healthier. This chain of thoughts always brings me back to my own story, and I wanted to take a moment to share it with each of you. I think it’s something that so many people can tify with in their own way, and my hope is that it will help to inspire you for the long-term as you plan out a healthier, “new” you.
Just six years ago, I weighed about 80lbs more than I do today. Running Geppetto Catering kept me busy, and every spare moment in between I was focused on being a husband and a father. I never stopped to think about my health. One day changed all of that, though. I had just taken my parents to one of my father’s doctor’s appointments. He struggles with a few health issues: heart disease and diabetes—and also requires dialysis. That day, my dad’s physician started to ask my mother about our overall family’s medical history. She noted that heart disease ran on not just one, but both sides of our family, and that it had caused many members of our family to pass away at a young age.
The doctor then asked about the children of our family. My mom noted that now that we were all grown up, she really didn’t know much about our health issues. The doctor suddenly turned to me, and explained that many of these issues are hereditary, and that, with a history of them on both sides of our family, my siblings and I should get evaluated by a physician as quickly as possible.
I listened right away to this “wake up call” of sorts. I called a friend who is also a cardiologist, and she referred me to one of her associates. At my first appointment I was told that I was “a ticking time bomb.” I had heart disease, diabetes, and a severe plaque build up in my lower extremity veins. News like this is always a shock—even if you think you’re prepared for it. I was deeply impacted on the spot. My initial worry was that I would need open heart surgery, but I was told that, at that time, I didn’t. What I would need, though, was to make a major and long-term change to being more dedicated about improving my health.
Shortly after my eye-opening appointment, my cardiologist friend called. She had reviewed my chart and told me that my “healthy living” plan needed to start immediately. Her concern really hammered home the seriousness of my situation. This was at the end of November, which happens to be the beginning of our very busiest catering season. I asked her if it would wait 3 weeks to get me through the holidays and promised that I would start that plan immediately after.
I kept that promise. I started watching what I ate over the holidays, but as soon as they were over, I returned to the doctor to formulate a clear health-improvement plan. I entered a program and worked with dieticians and other physicians. Instead of trying to “diet,” we focused on making a “lifestyle change,” and over the course of several years I shed 80 pounds.
My health has never stopped being a concern. Even throughout my weight loss process I was hospitalized twice for what I thought were heart attacks. Later I was admitted to NIH to do additional testing, and they fond that, although I was only in my mid-40s, I had the heart of a 75-year-old man.
It was confirmed that my health journey was not over, and that it never can be. I started this journey 5 years ago, and although I will always battle health issues, I’m much healthier today than I used to be. With each passing year, I know that I have to work even harder to push myself to attain new levels of health.
This experience has truly taught me something that I really wanted to pass down as people choose diets and follow fads. Sustainable, long-term health has to be a lifestyle change instead. I view the way I eat and live that way. I choose more veggies, chicken and fish over other meats. I avoid fried foods. I don’t deprive myself of the bad stuff I most enjoy—I just eat a lot less of it. I work with farm-fresh foods every day, and I incorporate these into my own meals. A lifestyle change is for a long-term play and long-term, lasting goals.
When evaluating your New Year’s Resolution this year—think about the difference between making long-term, sustainable change vs. sudden, strict change that just cannot last. Make a more permanent effort to better your life in whatever way you’ve been personally inspired to. I believe in you.
You may think that after losing 80 pounds that I am out of the woods. However, I am still on this journey. My doctors want me to lose 50 more pounds, which I intend on losing by the end of this year. Stay tuned as I continue my journey and I hope that my story will inspire you to make changes as well.