TO BE OR NOT TO BE…. FIT

LIVING HEALTHY – DR. ROBIN MILLERLast month my mother sent me a great picture of herself in a gift shop in Cambodia. She looks fit and happy. It got me thinking about the fact that as we age we have many choices. The major one is to be or not to be fit. I saw what happens both ways in my family. Let me start with my father.

My dad was brilliant but stubborn. He smoked, ate a fat-filled, high sugar diet, and was totally opposed to exercise. He had to quit smoking when he developed bladder cancer and his urologist told him that if he continued to smoke he would not see him in his practice, because a cancer recurrence would be inevitable.

He started eating healthier when his brother developed type 2 diabetes and he realized that he might end up with the same thing. However, he refused to get regular check-ups until he was in his mid 60’s. He did not realize that for most of his adult life he had high blood pressure, because he did not feel it. But, it took its toll on his kidneys in a big way.

By the time he was being seen on a regular basis he was in renal failure. Despite treatment for his hypertension, his kidneys finally failed completely. He made it to 84. He was alert and with-it till the end. Had he been treated for his high blood pressure early on he would still be here. It was amazing that he made it into his 80’s, but his quality of life suffered, especially the last 10 years.

My mother on the other hand has always been a health nut. She was exercising and eating healthy before it was fashionable. She quit eating red meat when she was in her 40’s. She has been walking and going to exercise classes most of her adult life. She now does Pilates, yoga, and is an avid tennis player. She started playing doubles a couple of years ago because her knee was acting up and she couldn’t run as fast in her singles games. She plays bridge, goes to lectures at the local university, and is now traveling around the world.
I cannot say how old she is because she would kill me, but I am 58 and she was not a teen mom so you can kind of guess her age. To look at her you would think that she was in her 60’s. She is committed to keeping her brain and body healthy and has been for most of her life. Fortunately my siblings and I have followed her example.

We have no control over what goes on in the world, but we can control how we treat our bodies. Life can get crazy, but there are choices we can make. You can choose to ignore your health as my father did (and please say hello to him when you see him) or you can follow the path that my mother is on and be well!

“To resist the frigidity of old age, one must combine the body, the mind, and the heart. And to keep these in parallel vigor one must exercise, study, and love.”  Alan Bleasdale

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One Response to TO BE OR NOT TO BE…. FIT

  1. Joe Hunkins says:

    Great post Dr. Miller, though sorry to hear your father is no longer with us. I was like your dad, feeling that some people fret too much about the particulars of their diet and exercise, but after watching many of my friends healthy decline in their 50s and later thanks to bad habits I decided to change to a more healthy lifestyle. The good part is that I feel so much better than I did with 20 more pounds. I sleep better, and have a lot more energy too. Perhaps most importantly I can expect to *enjoy* my life a lot longer. If “more life” is not a motivator for folks I’m not sure what would be….

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