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Achieving Health Happiness

Dec 31, 2008 04:00PM ● By Super Admin

Mike was told he would never walk again after a near-fatal head-on collision with a semi. Dennis was 200 pounds overweight, had undergone three surgeries and was taking 13 prescription medications per day. Sandra simply wanted to get in better shape in order to prevent the diabetes and heart disease her family is prone to.

There are as many different reasons to make changes to diet and exercise habits as there are people. No matter your age or size, chances are, there is something about yourself you would like to improve. Thinking beyond the “you” of today, physical fitness is important for the “you” of the future.

Being Proactive is Key for Better Health
Better physical fitness can prevent accidents as well, or at least minimize the damage they cause. Steven Harrity, Physical Therapist, Owner and President of Cameron Park Physical Therapy, works with people in his wellness center who want to lose weight or otherwise improve their health. Harrity notes that with the rising levels of obesity in the country, there is also an increase in the number of people who are proactively improving their health before accidents or diseases affect them.

“The better physical condition you’re in, the less chance you have of falls or other accidents,” says Harrity. He points out that increased muscle and ligament strength and improved balance all contribute to this, and protects your bones if you do have an accident.

Harrity’s practice also works with many seniors for the same reason. As we age, changes to our inner ears and eyes cause changes to our balance, increasing the risk of falls. “We work with all [body] systems to help them be more stable. When they fall, they lose confidence and become more sedentary and homebound, which makes them more likely to fall [again].” With increased physical fitness, this vicious cycle can be broken.

Roseville Health and Wellness is equally committed to helping clients achieve their best possible fitness level. “Our goal is to make Roseville the healthiest community in America. We provide a unique combination of medical, rehabilitation, and fitness services allowing each individual to achieve total body wellness,” states Jeff DeRaps, President RHWC, Inc.

An Alarming Trend
According to the American Medical Association, obesity is the number two preventable cause of death in the United States, after smoking and before alcohol abuse. Causes of obesity include poor dietary choices, an increasingly inactive lifestyle, genetics and socioeconomic strata.

Of course, the management of one’s diet is fundamental to healthy weight. As important as dietary choices, if not more so, is maintaining a healthy amount of physical exercise. Jobs in the United States are increasingly sedentary as much of our physical labor is transitioned off shore and even the normal labor of office work is reduced through increased automation. These are minor changes, but they add up to a tendency toward being inactive and, ultimately, to weight gain.

Vowing to lose weight or to achieve better muscle tone is easy. We all do it with the best of intentions, making New Year’s resolutions every year to lose “X” amount of weight or to take up jogging. The hard part, it turns out, is actually doing anything about it.

FoothillStyle recently had the opportunity to speak with a few admirable people who not only made the vow to achieve better health, but who had the discipline to take the necessary steps. Some made the choice to achieve better health, but in one case the choice was made for him. Here are their stories.
Mike Cooney

Mike, a former firefighter, worked in dairy testing. It was a job that kept him on the road long hours in the dark of the early morning. One day he was driving his pickup truck on the job when, too late, he realized that a semi was heading directly for him. The semi was over so far the line that he was driving on the shoulder on Mike’s side of the road, and there was no avoiding the collision. The investigators said later that the relative speed of the two vehicles was around 140 miles per hour when they met.

Mike does not remember much of the details of the accident. In fact, he does not remember much of the three months that followed – he spent that time comatose, which may have actually been a good thing, as he had suffered about 20 broken bones – in fact, he was lucky to have survived. Once he regained consciousness he was informed that he would be spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

Mike, however, is not one to be told what he can and cannot do, and he is certainly not one to be told to stay in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, so he applied himself to proving his doctor wrong. It was not a journey that his wife felt that she could take with him, so she filed for divorce, leaving Mike on his own. Not to be deterred, he pressed on relentlessly.

After some improvement in Mike’s condition, the doctors told him that he would be able to walk, but it would be only with a walker and with great difficulty. Also, they were going to need to amputate one of his feet due to the extreme injuries it had suffered. The foot surgery was a low priority, however, and the surgery to remove the foot was put off to a later date.

Determined to keep his foot, Mike put the time to good use and used physical therapy to improve his foot to the point that he was able to keep it. He is still working with his foot to continue to increase his strength, but there are no more threats of amputation hanging over his head.

Mike has been at the Snap Fitness Center in Shingle Springs since Spring 2007, growing his strength and physical fitness every day.  He credits Becky, Marcy and Glenda with much of his recovery. “If it weren’t for them, I might still be sitting around thinking about it,” he says. “The environment that they create at Snap is really great – they keep you going and they encourage you to achieve your goals. I would not be anywhere near as fit as I am now if it weren’t for them.” He is not a runner, yet, but he plans to be one day.

“You have to decide what you want your life to be like and then you have to take the steps to make it that way,” according to Mike. “If you are comfortable sitting in the chair and looking at the wall, that’s fine, but if you want something else, you have to take the steps to get there.”

Mike is a very self-effacing guy. He does not see his journey as an heroic one, just one that he had to take. Not everyone has the same motivations as Mike to make tremendous changes in their lives, but many of us have something about us that we would like to change. Whether we just want to be fitter so we can do our jobs better, look better in our clothes or avoid accidents, or whether we have to make a change to save our lives and mobility, there is help out there. Anyone who truly wants to make a change can find a way to do it, and we here at FoothillStyle wish you all the luck and success in the world.

Here’s to a new you in 2009: Are you up to the challenge?

For more inspiring local stories of achieving health happiness, be sure to pick up this month's copy of FoothillStyle. Check out the Distribution tab on this Web site for some of our newsstand locations. Or, to order a copy of this issue, please email Gloria Schroeder at [email protected], or call her at 916-988-9888 x116