Sticking Around

Healthy Options

Healthy Options

Last August 19.  That’s when everything changed.

At the time, I was working out fairly regularly, but my routine was primarily moderate weight training (machines and dumbbells), with some floor exercises and a weekly volleyball league thrown in.  I was also eating pretty much anything and any amount I wanted.  I knew I had put on some pounds, but I would have said that overall I was in pretty good shape–maybe near the cut between the top and middle third of people my age.

Then my employer offered a discount on health insurance premiums to all staff who participated in a free health screening, with completely confidential results, and I signed up to save a few bucks.

For context, I should mention that on my way back to the office after my screening that afternoon I planned to stop for a particularly unhealthy but amazingly sybaritic fast food lunch that, even in my most self-indulgent days, I only allowed myself a few times a year.

I never had that meal.

As part of the screening, I was quizzed, weighed, measured, and finger-pricked.  And then I was counseled.  A representative of the health insurance company reviewed my results with me, and that conversation was a turning point.  My cholesterol number had come back higher than I expected.  Not head-straight-to-the-hospital high, but worry-about-family-history high?  Yup.

Cholesterol may have been the only word that would have gotten my attention so effectively.  Many of the people higher up in my family tree died younger than they should have, often from strokes.

I did a little research on lowering cholesterol, compared the information to what my counselor had offered, and downloaded a free app to help me manage my calories.  Fruit became a BIG part of my daily intake.  (I actually edited that last sentence:  I avoid the word diet, preferring the term lifestyle change.)  After talking to my family doctor, I added a little cardio to the gym routine.  Nothing all that impressive, but a little.  And 10 months and a reasonable amount of weight-loss later, I can honestly say I’m in the best shape of my adult life.  Room to keep going?  Sure.  But that total cholesterol number is now out of the “borderline” range.  (That having been said, my LDL/HDL balance needs work.  But at least now I’ve read enough to have a general idea what that means.)



I’m no expert on health, and I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have a strong, selfish drive to stay alive, but a piece of this extended commitment has been the idea that I owe it to my kids to do my best to still be around while they need me–and I’d like to spend time with my grandkids someday.

I try to avoid offering too much advice, but I would go so far as to suggest that if you have any questions about your cholesterol, get it checked.  And if you need to drop the cholesterol, consider full-time calorie counting on your phone to support slow but steady progress.

Be well.  Here’s to many more August 19ths.


Note:  DadKnowsBetter has not received any consideration whatsoever for saying so, but the app I have been using is My Fitness Pal, powered by Under Armour.  There may be other good options, but this one has been a helpful tool to me, so it seems right to say so.

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Filed under Activities & Sports, Health, Living Well, Uncategorized

Brackish Water

IMG_20150710_140848109Our oldest, 20 years old, is off living the college life she has dreamed about since she was a little girl.  I couldn’t be happier for, or prouder of, our young lady:  She is excelling in the classroom and representing her school on the volleyball court.  But there is one major drawback:  She is doing it all a 6+ hour drive from home.

Her sister, 17, is a high school senior.  College acceptance letters are arriving and she is swapping calls and texts with the schools’ coaches as she tries to find the right match where she will be happy on campus, in the classroom, and in the pool.  Family life is a little simpler now that she can drive herself to school and to practice.  But that means we don’t see her quite as much, and I worry about her getting from place to place safely.  Again:  pride, happiness…and a little melancholy.

Now the boy, who is 12, still counts on us to get him from place to place, to attend his events, to help with his homework.  He will be as tall as I am in the next couple of years, but clothing size aside, he is still very much a kid.  Right now, seeing how fast it has all gone by with his sisters, I am well aware that I need to savor the soccer matches, the school concerts, and the swim meets, because if I blink he will be off to college himself.

We haven’t done it all perfectly, but I believe we have done it well.  Each of them is happy; the girls have succeeded in creating options for themselves, and the boy is on a good path.  Like most kids, each has hit routine bumps along the way; but in many ways each has had the best year of his/her life over the last 12 months or so.

So if it’s ALL going well, why write about it?  Well, truth be told, while the kids seem to be on track, their parents are struggling a little with the transition in everyone’s roles within the family.  It seems all too soon that we are seeing the girls leading their own lives in important ways and our role changing from supervising to advising.  And the boy is right behind them.

Again, all too soon, the three of them will be living under other roofs, always needing us, but never in the same way as when they were little.  Right now, we are somewhere in between.  And learning to swim in this brackish water is a combination of gratifying, sad, nostalgic, and a little scary.

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Filed under Appreciation, College, Education, School, Transitions

College Search–Round 2

Now that Big Sister is well through her second semester of her freshman year, we’re gearing up for our next college search.  But this one’s different.

Big Sister KNEW with absolute certainty that she wanted to go to a big school–until she realized, fairly late in the game, that she wanted the sense of community that comes with a small school.  Little Sister, who is now in her junior year of high school, KNOWS she wants a fairly small school, believing she’ll feel more comfortable and secure.

Big Sister spent years playing club and high school volleyball, but heading off to school last August she was clear that she did not plan to play in college as a freshman; she thought she might walk on as a sophomore–which seemed reasonable at her new, small (Division III) home.  Plans change:  Less than 2 weeks later, she was on the school team.  Little Sister is a swimmer.  In fact, she is never happier
than when she is in the pool.  Missing practice makes her cranky.  She knows she wants to swim in college.

She also knows that while with her current times she could get picked up by a Division I team, she would be near the bottom of the team roster and might not be included on the travel team for every meet.  But her times would place her firmly in the top half of quite a few Division II teams the day she arrives on campus.  (She also knows several Division I schools have dropped swimming in the last few years to save money….which is another worry.)

It is worth mentioning that Little Sister has learned from 2 local swimmers that the Division I vs. Division II choice is important–and personal.  She knows an exceptional swimmer who went to the most competitive Division I school (s)he could, and who was completely happy to be included on the roster for only some of the travel meets.  On the other hand, she knows another talented swimmer who chose the Division II route, also completely happy, starting a college career solidly in the middle of the roster this year as a freshman, participating every time the team is in the pool.  Little Sister knows that to her, swimming trumps status (Division I, big conference school, etc.), so she wants to find a school where she will be guaranteed the opportunity to swim full-time for her entire 4 years if she chooses.  She has created a long list of mostly D-II schools.

So–at least for now, knowing that the search could change as we go–we are looking for a school where 1) she will feel safe  2) she will get a good education, and 3) she can compete in the pool.

I am looking forward to going with her on this ride.

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Filed under Activities & Sports, College, Education, School