Friday, November 16, 2012

Get Paid $20 to Go to the Gym

We received a postcard in the mail from United Healthcare.

“Get $20 a month for going to a gym.

Just visit a participating gym 12 or more times in a month.”

For a penny pincher like me $20 sounds good. My last gym membership cost me $20 per month. If you go just 3 days a week for a month you can get your money back, I think that’s reasonable. Honestly, I don’t think this is a very good incentive to get anyone to go to the gym but I am glad to see that a health care management company is taking some initiative to try to motivate people to go to the gym.

I guess when I saw this postcard I just wondered if this was to motivate people to go to the gym. I thought about what would motivate me to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

First off, the benefit of a nice body is one of the perks but I am on a mission for a healthier lifestyle because of my family. It is one of my prayers that I will live long enough to see grandchildren and that my children will come to me for wisdom and advice when they are adults. I also hate being a statistic. My family has been plagued by, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and being overweight. My family is the typical black community statistic. Wanting a healthier lifestyle has not been easy for me, it’s not like everybody is a champion for the lifestyle I aspire to have. I have to either motivate myself or hang around people with similar goals. Our children, it seems like it’s in their genes, love junk food and any food that’s unhealthy. I have found some cooking solutions for this such as, homemade turkey burger night or oven-fried (homemade) chicken tenders. Despite my frustration with my kids and how I desire them to eat healthier, sometimes my meals are made separately from theirs, like I don’t eat oven-fried chicken tenders (not that it’s bad for you, I just don’t like it). I am hopeful that one day, when the kids are adults, they will analyze my life and say, yeah, mom did eat healthy maybe I need to do that too.

As I observed my maternal grandmother, when I was a child, she was the pillar of our family. We have all the family dysfunctions any family can have but for this one woman every Sunday we gathered at her home and ate like it was Thanksgiving every Sunday. My grandmother was this woman I wanted to be. She grew vegetables in her tiny row-house backyard in the city, Washington, D.C. She was a master gardener and her front yard impeccable every season. My grandmother’s home was always clean, smelled like home-made baked goods, and it was a home. My grandmother was a very good cook and baker. I never heard her complain of all that she had to do and she was a shift-worker at the now defunct D.C. General Hospital. When I found out she died, I was shocked because I felt like it was unexpected. I didn’t know she had any health problems she was in her early 50’s.

I can remember an incident when my mother had to go for surgery for a detached retina then my mom in her mid 40’s, told me she had diabetes. Not too long after the diabetes coming out she told me she was using Lipitor. Frightened by my mother’s experiences, I began to scrutinize my own health. I wanted to figure out what is cholesterol? How does cholesterol affect my health, and will I get diabetes too? In my late 20’s I began requesting blood tests for cholesterol and diabetes. It’s funny because the doctors’ never recommended these tests to me. They assumed that since I was skinny everything was okay. The doctors’ just agreed with me when I told them I needed to take those tests, yeah, you’re high risk. So now here I am 2012 working through a healthier lifestyle change and I would say the most pressing thing I battle with is not to exercise, but overeating and emotional eating. I am so used to having a large meal, I had to literally train myself to eat smaller meals and be satisfied. It wasn’t easy. I noticed I emotional eat if I feel sad or if I am “bored.” I say bored with quotes because actually, I’m never bored I just have moments where I want to do nothing else but eat a cupcake.

I always hear about how genes play a big part in the diseases we get but I wonder if it’s really our genes? What if we’re just conditioned to have certain habits? We are so used to having food prepared a certain way or doing things a certain way, we don’t know why, we just do it and we don’t change it. We are conditioned to believe that bigger is better. Eating a bigger meal somehow makes you superior. Having a big house or a big truck makes you somebody. As I revamp my eating habits and what I choose to eat here are some old eating habits I have adopted from my family and solutions I have been working hard on:

My old eating habits
What I am putting into practice now
Eat as many bowls of cereal as you please, eat the whole box
I am aware of what a serving is and how doubling up a serving can add more sugar and calories
Soggy over-cooked vegetables
I prefer slightly steamed or raw vegetables now
One serving of vegetables at dinner
I eat about 3-5 servings of vegetables daily
Have seconds and thirds after your meal
Control portions
Snacking on Doritos, cupcakes, or candy
I eat more nuts for snacks, have an apple or a small salad
Using butter as a staple, butter on everything
I substitute butter for Olive Oil

Diabetes awareness month is in November, check out a link to PREVENTION Tips from the American Diabetes Association.

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What are you struggling to change in order to live healthier? What would motivate you to live a healthier lifestyle and why aren’t you doing it?

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