Frontline Initiative: Health and Wellness
I Saw It Was Time for a Change
Joe Meadours with his friend of over 30 years, Steve Pitts.
About ten years ago, I was at the ballpark when I started to feel shaky. The EMTs checked me out and my blood sugar was really low, so they took me to the hospital. I was there for ten days and was diagnosed with diabetes. I learned this runs in my family and I knew I had to take this seriously.
I’ve heard stories about how lack of exercise and poor eating habits affect people later in life. I didn’t understand this at first, not until I saw friends and peers who got diabetes and how it affected them. I said to myself, “I want to beat this anyway I can.” I talked with my direct support professionals and my doctor about what I needed to change. They said I could eat many of the same things, and do many of the same things, but it mattered how much and when. They recommended I not eat at 8 p.m., for example, when I wouldn’t have time to exercise and burn off the calories. So, I needed to change my habits.
My number one goal is my health. Every time I go grocery shopping, my staff goes with me. I love PB&J, and my staff asks me to read the labels on the peanut butter and jelly and find out how many calories and how much sugar and fat it has. When I cook, I look for things to replace salt and sugar. When I do use sugar—I like it in my iced tea—I just use a small amount. And most food already has a lot of salt, so I really don’t need to add more. And I can still have that dessert, but not for every meal.
My daily habit now is that I eat my breakfast and then go for a walk or do some other exercise an hour later. I also look at the size of the portions. I try to eat less but I don’t starve myself or skip meals. I eat healthily and make sure I get my protein to keep me going. I still like having a cold beer, but just one, and only once in a while.
If I don’t show that I care about myself, what will they think of me? If I can fight this, you can, too.
I started to feel better after about six months after changing my diet and exercise habits. I’ve made a commitment to myself, and I want to stick with it. Today, my energy is pretty good. I feel like I have a purpose. I did before, but now I want to be a role model to my peers. If I don’t show that I care about myself, what will they think of me? If I can fight this, you can, too.