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I am always amazed at what gets the attention of the people.

The last article I wrote for The Telegram was about my intentional decision to choose to get healthy for 2019. I wasn’t just writing because I needed to do an article, I was serious. My health had gotten to the point where, while I wasn’t suffering from serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or joint problems, I was definitely at the point of self-examination where I either needed to do something or my health and life was going to continue the downward spiral to major medical issues in my later years.

I am 48. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation, the average life expectancy for American’s is 78.7. More than likely, I have lived more than half of my life. I don’t have to look much further than how my parents finished their lives to realize changes had to be made. My mom passed away in December 2016. She had always been a very active, very athletic person, even though a larger woman. As a teacher, she would regularly be on the playground, leading and playing with students in whatever they were doing each day. After retirement, my mom became sedentary, suffering blood clots, leg issues and cancer, most due to her very non-active lifestyle.

Her dietary choices weren’t good either. The last 10 years of mom’s life were spent in a wheel chair, almost home bound, not able to walk long distances without much help and the assistance of a walker. My dad was the “healthier” of the two. He passed away suddenly in November 2017 suffering a brain bleed after a fall. He too lived a very sedentary life. Watching TV, eating candy and drinking soda was a big part of his day. He had had both knees replaced in the past five years, mostly due to being overweight and no longer being able to take the pain reducing shots he had been on for years.

I did not want that lifestyle to be mine! I was nearly 300 pounds and wasn’t doing much to change that. Studies have shown the average American gains one pound each year between ages 35-60. I envisioned knee and back problems, high cholesterol, diabetes and worse.

Participating in the Columbus Community Hospital CHIP Class has been life altering! Since starting this program - which is NOT a diet, it’s a lifestyle choice - I have lost over 25 pounds. Eating whole foods, plant-based products, as close to how they are grown as possible, has been amazing. That meant eliminating meat products, dairy products, no more added sugars, reducing sodium intake and getting rid of processed foods. I drank a lot of coffee and lattes. That went away as well. I ramped up my physical activity from once in a while to making it my goal to vigorously exercising five days a week and still being active on the weekends.

I have never felt better in my life! The CHIP Program is a medically based proven lifestyle that if followed, will make you healthier. One phrase that has stuck in my head from the class has been “add years to your life and life to your years.” I want to die later, healthier. Thanks to all of you who have checked on me and my progress. Accountability is a wonderful thing! See you at the Y!

Corey Briggs is the CEO of the Columbus Family YMCA.

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