I know firsthand what it’s like to have to sideline some of your favorite activities. I had to stop running and being as active later in life to preserve my knees and joints, but I never lost interest in staying healthy. A wellness program facilitated by Blue Cross helped me get back on the horse and re-ignite my passion for fitness, mental health and new beginnings in ways I never imagined.
I have always been a proud, native Metro-Detroiter, growing up in the city and later moving to St. Clair Shores. As I got older, I joined the military, which afforded me the chance to travel. It also helped me stay at my physical peak: I started to love running and regularly ran 10 miles a day for about a decade. I even finished four marathons, including the Detroit Free Press Marathon, because I was so passionate about the activity and the way it made me feel.
About 10 years into running, my doctor could tell the impact my hobby was having on my knees and entire body and suggested I start to take it easy and run less. I decided to get a gym membership and stay active in lower impact ways, but I missed the rush I got from running.
I also felt a lack of friendship and engagement at the gyms I joined, so I slowly stopped going. I walked my dog regularly, but it just wasn’t enough and the pounds quickly started to pile on. Within a matter of months, I gained almost 75 pounds. My health was going downhill and I eventually needed heart surgery for a variety of reasons. After that surgery, I didn’t want my condition to deteriorate—I had no alternative but to get back in shape.
This was all happening around the same time that I retired as a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employee. I started spending a few winter months in Alabama, where being outside and more active was easier in the warm weather. I saw people at my gym using a program sponsored by Blue Cross and really enjoying it. With encouragement from my new friends, I saw an opportunity to pivot my path to wellness. I signed up and jumped right in to a new routine.
Since joining the program, my wellness has grown in leaps and bounds; I exercise every day of the week, participating in barre classes, aerobics, ballroom dancing, yoga and Pilates. I still walk all of the time and usually reach 15,000 steps per day—I shoot for 17,000. I’ve also lost almost all of the 75 pounds I gained years ago and my waist size has dropped from a 42 to a 36! My daily activity levels now are so different from just a few years ago—something I attribute to changing my fitness habits.
The other thing I love about the program is that it encourages lots of social interaction. I walk and take classes with my friends and genuinely enjoy their company. I’ve never had so many friends in my whole life and am grateful for the connections I’ve made.
I feel amazing. I’m more flexible and less sore these days and my body has completely changed. I know I couldn’t have made such strides or afforded the classes that I’m now involved in without the program.
I truly believe in the program and know that other seniors could benefit from it the same way that I have. It’s made me a healthier, happier person, genuinely enhanced my overall holistic life.
If you’re inspired by Bob’s story, you may also want to read these #BeyondtheCard posts:
- Beyond the Card: My Health Journey
- Beyond the Card: My Climb to the Top
- Beyond the Card: The Power of Support
Photo credit: Angel Navedo