A Club Red member found being active brings true happiness
When Rosemary Quarles of Louisa was growing up, high-fat foods were plentiful. Eating, she once believed, brought happiness. But by 40, when she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, she realized her unhealthy eating habits, along with a sedentary way of life, brought serious health consequences. “I made a choice to realign myself,” she says.
“I was comfortable and I didn’t realize how much I really weighed. And I didn’t realize that I had diabetes. Once I was diagnosed, it was perfect timing. I met Victoria through church. She asked Marylou Perry (a UVA Heart and Vascular Center nutritionist) if I could come along to her appointment. I saw Marylou for a few years to help with my diet regimen. I also saw Cindy Parnell, an exercise physiologist. Then Anne Hedelt (a nurse practitioner) came on board and helped me with different exercise programs.”
Small changes add up
In three years, Rosemary shed 30 pounds. Her husband, Tony, (also overweight and diabetic) slimmed down too after she made changes in her cooking that he hardly noticed; making iced tea with half Splenda® and half sugar, switching to skim milk and sautéing with olive oil instead of frying in vegetable oil.
An even bigger achievement was getting Tony to start exercising. “It took about three years for me to make an impression on him but, finally, he saw the change in me,” Rosemary says. “I think he got tired of taking medications, checking his blood sugar, and the cost and inconvenience of an unhealthy lifestyle.” Now at least 1 or 2 times a week, Rosemary and Tony walk together with their Chocolate Lab. Two times a week, they take exercise classes at their community center. They try to stick to a 20-20-20 workout (20 minutes of aerobics, 20 minutes of kickboxing and 20 minutes of abdominal strengthening).
Being a positive influence
Rosemary’s new lifestyle has even impacted her pets; both her cat and dog are on weight-control food and they’ve shed pounds as well. “Everybody’s been trying to live healthy out here,” she says.
She’s also trying to rub off on her extended family where high blood pressure and diabetes run deep. “I’m the oldest of four. Everyone has hypertension. My sister has diabetes as well. The hardest thing is to be a good role model. When we get together, I encourage fruits instead of cakes and pies. I also bring things that are fat-free or light and they never notice the difference.”
Her goal is to get off all diabetes medication. But because of her genetic history and age she knows that may not be possible: “My primary care physician (Joyce Geilker, M.D.) explained to me that with type 2 diabetes, as your pancreas gets older, it will not make the amount of insulin required.”
Finding happiness and inspiration
Of course like many women, Rosemary’s had stumbling blocks along the way. “I’ve gained a pound or two,” she says. And she still craves the complex carbohydrates she grew up on -- home-made brownies and bread are her favorites.
Still, she wouldn’t give up her new life for anything. “I can walk without getting short of breath and without my joints aching. I’ve never been happier,” she says.
And now as a Club Red member, each month she gets delicious recipes, and inspiration, to continue to get the most out of her heart-healthy life.