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Navigating Healthcare

By Diane L. Marolla, LICSW

All throughout my childhood and adult years, I’ve always sought my inspiration from every day people around me. Whether it was in school or in the work place, I would observe (and still do) others that I respected and admired and would glean things I liked or admired about them to make myself a better person physically, mentally, intellectually, culturally, or spiritually. It was never from a competitive mindset as I don’t have a competitive bone in my body. It was from the mindset that in order for me to be better, it was important for me to be around others who excelled in the way that I wanted to improve myself.

Specific to health and wellbeing, it was a recommendation from a colleague and friend Betsy Casey that inspired and encouraged me to work out with a Personal Trainer. At the time, I was going to a very large gym, doing the same mindless routine over and over again. I was not challenging myself physically. I was intimidated by all the wonderful equipment the gym had and never used it. I would only use either the treadmill or the elliptical. Betsy, at that time, was going to a smaller gym and encouraged me to join, which I did. It was there, that I began working with Personal Trainer Derek Belisle at Anytime Fitness in Johnston, RI. It is now my fourth year anniversary working with Derek and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. He challenges me each week in the hour that I spend with him. He doesn’t mind my quirky personality, and we have laughs during my workout too. Derek is also very affordable.

Since this is the beginning of 2019, I know many of you have made a New Year’s resolution to get healthier and fit. I sat down with Betsy, who is now fifty one, and is in the best physical shape than most twenty year old’s. We met to talk about simple and affordable ways people can get healthy and fit in the New Year. I also wanted to hear firsthand from Betsy what has kept her motivated over the years.

Over coffee on a Saturday morning, Betsy told me that she was always an active child. It was in college that she began lifting weights and “enjoyed it”. After college, Betsy started taking aerobic classes, became a certified aerobics instructor, and began teaching classes. “The more people in class, the more motivated I became because I enjoyed helping people.” She also became a certified Personal Trainer to increase her knowledge about health and fitness and to show people how to use the gym equipment “the right way.” Betsy taught aerobics until age thirty five.

As career changes occurred, and Betsy made the trek to Boston every day for work, it was then she started to build her home gym, together with her husband. Betsy began working out before she went to work in the morning in her basement, which she still does today. “Exercise has always been a part of my life. It is a lifestyle. It is a stress reliever and it makes me happy.” After her daily morning workout, Betsy starts her work day in a positive way both physically and mentally.

Betsy and I also talked about how exercise alone will not keep you healthy and physically fit. Making good choices about what you eat each day is very important. Betsy talked about how her “eating habits have evolved over time”. She has incorporated more vegetables in her diet, drinks lots of water with fresh fruit in it, and believes in eating three times a day where her bigger meals are earlier in the day. She has a rule where she does not eat anything after dinner and doesn’t snack in between meals. Betsy’s husband Dave (or her pet name for him is Chef Flay) is a wonderful cook and prepares excellent healthy meals for Betsy and their family. Betsy will do the food shopping and Dave does the cooking. Together, they make the time to prepare meals ahead of time as it makes it easier for them during the week as they both put in beyond a forty hour work week. At times, they have different schedules and Dave will have to work in the middle of the night while Betsy works days.

Although neither Betsy, nor I have children, we talked about how important it is for parents to be role models for their children when it comes to eating and fitness. Your children watch everything you do, and everything you put in your mouth (including if you smoke or drink). Incorporate your fitness in doing things with them such as walking, bike riding, jump roping, hula hoops, playing basketball, dancing or bowling. Play kick ball in the back yard. When Betsy’s nieces come over they do physical activities and her nieces love it!

Before I ended my interview with Betsy, I asked her for some simple tips for starting and maintaining a commitment to a healthier lifestyle that is affordable. Here are the tips that she gave me:

Start with small goals.
Make the commitment for you because you are important.
We have twenty four hours in a day. Carve out thirty minutes a day for exercise.
If you work at a desk and computer all day, make sure you get up and move around. Ask your employer for a desk that allows you to stand. If your employer won’t pay for it, then make a small investment to buy the tools (they are on Amazon) that will allow you to stand while being on a computer.
Use the stairs versus the elevator.
If you sit all day at work, put ten elastic bands around your wrist. Go up and down the stairs and remove the elastic band from your wrist each time you go up and down.
When you go shopping or when you park your car at work, park your car away from the entrance so that you get in a nice walk.
Make physical activity fun and do something you love. Don’t pick an exercise that you hate. Tap into what you used to like to do when you were a child. Was it bike riding? Did you play a sport?
Don’t expect results overnight.
Use on line resources for free videos and information. If you do use on line resources, do not get sucked into buying products. There are plenty of on line resources that are free.
See your doctor annually and do your preventative screenings.
Check your health insurance plan to see if they offer free or discounted gym memberships in the area.
Minimize your intake of alcohol and do not smoke.
Adopt a dog as they love to walk and are a great companion to getting you off of the couch.
Get a good night’s sleep every night. (Exercising regularly will also help you sleep better.)
Keep the junk food and the high calorie food out of your house.
You are never too old to get healthy. Age is just a number and it is never too late to get started.

Betsy had so many great quotes as we talked. My favorite was “The tool you need is you. Your body will go where your mind takes it.”

After a great conversation about health and wellbeing, Betsy and I took a nice brisk walk in Johnston Memorial Park. We were able to catch up about life as we haven’t seen each other in two years.