Freedom walkers

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I graduated from the Kroc RX program this week and I learned a lot about proper nutrition, diet and exercise. Before I started the eight-week program, I was a master of excuses when it came to avoiding exercise.  “I am too tired. I am too busy. I don't feel like it. Tomorrow, next week, next month, I will get going.”

Those excuses felt extremely hollow when I saw some people on the indoor track at the Salvation Army's Kroc Center and I realized the shame of my laziness. There was a woman in her 60s who extended her arm, her body shaking as she walked. Something was seriously wrong with her, but she never stopped moving.  

I saw a man wearing an eye patch and a leg brace as a result of some horrible injuries. Every step was an agonizing struggle, but he never gave up. And finally a woman with severe disabilities was being pushed in a wheelchair. Her face seemed joyful as she moved around the track.

Looking back, I realize the desire for movement and freedom is intrinsically hard-wired into all of us. I find myself finding ways to move every day.

In addition to exercise, diet is a major issue for me. Being a diabetic, I love sugar and carbohydrates. Jennifer Ramsrud, a dietitian with Heritage Health, taught me a ton about how food works in the body, portion sizes, and how to read food labels.

The biggest take away from Jennifer is the Idaho plate method. It requires that half of your plate be covered with vegetables, a quarter with protein (meats), a quarter with grains (pasta, rice, bread).

So where's the fruit and the dairy? Good question. As an unabashed cheese lover, I discovered the Idaho plate method actually includes two second saucer-sized plates for my cheddar and huckleberry needs.

Changing how you eat is hard and it takes a willingness to try new things. Some were hits, such as all natural peanut butter. Others were not — like cauliflower rice, or as my wife calls it, warm lawn in a bag.

Sadly, I gained a couple of pounds. Starting a lifestyle overhaul during the holidays is really hard. While I am disappointed by the scale, I am committed to continuing my lifestyle makeover in 2018.

On the positive side, I lost an inch off my waist, significantly lowered my blood pressure, and lowered my blood sugars and cholesterol. I feel better. My clothes fit better. I am on my way thanks to some amazing people at Heritage Health who gave me the tools to live a healthy life.  

Ultimately, the Kroc RX program changed my mindset about being healthy and for that I am eternally grateful.  I will never stop walking again.

-Marc Stewart is the Director of Sponsored Content for the Coeur d'Alene Press.

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