Aside from changing our daily food intake, the main thing we knew after Andy’s Type 2 diagnosis was that he needed to move. Never a fan of exercise, Andy wasn’t exactly thrilled to devote a portion of his week to getting his heart rate up. After a long day of work, the last thing he wanted was to sacrifice his couch time.
Knowing this, I wrestled with the best way to encourage his movement. I knew nagging wouldn’t work—when has nagging ever accomplished anything? I was really scared about his health, but I knew that he needed support just as much as he needed exercise. Having my own exercise routine already established, I didn’t necessarily want to start a secondary routine, and he didn’t want to join my DVD workout every morning.
To start, I suggested we start playing Wii Tennis. It was interactive so we could play together, and we’re both fairly competitive, so we would both play hard to win. It was great! For about a week. Then Andy got so good that he just kind of stood there flicking his wrist as his overall score inched up and up.
Andy played a little tennis in Jr. High, and he claims to have liked it, so my next thought was to see if he’d teach me to play the real thing. And he did! And I was horrible. There are just some things that certain people can’t do, and I’ve yet to learn that a gentle serve can be more productive than hitting the ball as hard as I can. I mean, that’s what you do in softball, right? He spent more time chasing balls than he really cared to, and while his heart rate was up he wasn’t enjoying it.
At this point, Andy took things into his own hands. In his early 20s, he’d established a walk around his parents’ neighborhood that he would do on occasion. Since we live only a few minutes from his childhood home, he decided to give that walk another go. It was a little inconvenient (he had to drive to the starting point), but it provided some solid activity.
After a few weeks, he decided that to be the most productive he would need a walk originating from our front door. He started scoping out our own neighborhood and shortly found the walk that he still does to this day. The walk that helped him lose close to 40 pounds in four months. The walk that helped stabilize his blood sugar. The walk that, as the days became longer, he did 3-4 times on Saturdays and Sundays in addition to his twice-daily walks before and after work during the week. The walk that by September 2011 helped him get the “You are now diabetes free” diagnosis from his doctor.
I tend to attack a large project all at once, but Andy’s taught me that it’s okay to start small—a little here, a little there, and a lot of patience, can yield far better results than you ever could have expected.