Turning Points: Health-based Lifestyle Changes

We writers work hard to craft turning points in our stories, the moments when characters must make life-altering decisions. Those that carry the most emotional impact force our heroes and heroines in new directions. They have no choice but to change. Going back to the lives they led before is not an option.

This week I faced life-changing news. A bone density scan ordered by my doctor at my routine physical revealed that I have osteoporosis.

What? Me? At my age?

Yup! I’m only 52, but I have already experienced some loss in bone density, enough that I meet the criteria for a diagnosis for osteoporosis but not enough that my doctor rushed to put me on medication.

I had three treatment choices: hormone replacement therapy, prescription drugs such as the one Sally Fields advertises, or Calcium and Vitamin D supplements coupled with exercise. The first two options are short-term solutions since they have side effects, including increased risk of cancer. The third is the one I chose.

The diagnosis rocked my world. I know this bone disease isn’t life threatening, but I have to face significant lifestyle changes. I don’t like to exercise and am not excited about the need to work an exercise regimen into my daily routine. However, I have no choice.

The alternative is continued loss in bone density and an ever-increasing risk of a hip fracture as I age. My grandmother, who had an advanced case of osteoporosis, experienced this break, and it was a tough time for her.

So how did I face the news? I did my best to emulate my characters, who are far stronger people than I am. I accepted the fact that a decision needed to be made. Granted, I groused more than my characters do, but I made a good choice.

Since my doctor said I have to incorporate resistive, weight-bearing exercise into my life, I opted to join Curves. I’ll be heading to the gym 3x a week for circuit training. On the other days, I will be walking for at least 30 minutes.

I’ve covered the physical changes, but the emotional hurdle has been hardest on me. I dealt with guilt and remorse. My sedentary lifestyle could have contributed to the bone loss. However, being a small-boned woman over 50 and having a family history of the disease, I was at risk anyhow. Even so, I wonder if I could have prevented the loss of bone density had I exercised.

My life from this point won’t be the same. If I want to arrest the progression of the disease, which I do, I must exercise daily, whether I want to or not. Going back to the way I used to do things is not an option.

My goal is to learn from my characters. Their lives improve when they face hardships and overcome them. They grow stronger and end up happier. My exercise-loving hubby tells me I may find that I enjoy exercise. I do hope he’s right.

• • •

What life-changing situations have you faced, and how did you deal with them?

Have you experienced a health issue that forced you to change your daily routine?

Lifestyle sign image from istockphoto

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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24 Responses to Turning Points: Health-based Lifestyle Changes

  1. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    ((((((((((((((Keli))))))))))) <—big hug.

    Try to do something against osteoporosis in the most natural way you can. Don´t take any artificial hormones, they make it worse. Try to live on a diet high in milk products (milk, cheese, yoghurts etc.) and eat a lot of bananas and avocados (paltas). Natural remedies are always better. I am sure that way you will be better soon!

    I had to change my life in several aspects due to health problems. Last year I had 3 intestine diverticulitis inflammations, 2 took me in emergency to hospital. I had to change to a diet high in fibres (fruit and grains and vegetables) and few sweets and chocolates (sighhh).

    The other has to do with the things that happened to us in Peru, the fact that I would only have the son I have due to "special treatment" by militaries who accused us to help the guerrilla for we helped people with donated medicines and other health problems caused by this, and to deal with complex PTSD, to learn how to act when getting triggered.

    I wish you all the best , Keli, and I am sure that you will get better . If you wanna know more about a healthy diet in case of osteoporosis, just email me (I have been married 15 years to a doctor and have an aunt who is a peruvian traditional healer and knows a lot about natural remedies).

  2. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    Nature is a great healer

  3. Hugs coming your way! And prayers. I did Curves for awhile when my daughter was little. If you go at the same time, chances are you’ll be exercising with the same women every day. I made a few friends and I was always amused at the conversation. Women working out talk about EVERYTHING, even ladies well into their 80’s. In fact, they may talk the most! 🙂

  4. Gillian says:

    Life just loves those curve balls, doesn’t it? I share your views on exercise, but I’ve got to get moving too. It’s great you’ve got a chance to let the natural remedies work first before having to try the pills. My exercise loving hubby says the same thing, too–I’m not totally sold, but at least I am happy with myself once it’s done. Music or audiobooks helps most.

  5. So sorry about the diagnosis Keli – but way to be STRONG in your reaction and decision to it!

  6. bethkvogt says:

    Huge hug, friend!
    And you are a strong woman–and one of the most encouraging women I know!
    And, yes, I have dealt with a health issue that totally rocked my world–still dealing with the fallout of it, actually.
    How do I deal with? First, I had to accept the reality of it. That took some tears and some time. And, to be honest, a sense of humor. And now, as much as possible, I try not to make a big deal about it even though it is part of my life it isn’t “who” I am, it is just something I have to deal with.
    You are doing the right things–and you will be stronger in so many ways because of it. Even this blog post is a positive step forward — a way to process and turn a negative health diagnosis into something positive that will help others.
    Cheering you on!

  7. Keli in my 77 years I have found life is all about changes, not all bad but some very hard.
    I had to change my life style when I was 52. My Mother was alone & sick so she moved in with us till she got better, well she was with us for over 20 years and the last 3 I took care of her 24/7 by myself because My hubby had gone to be with the Lord. At the age of 53 I was told I had Fibromyalgia & that made a big change in my life. Now I have Peripheral Neuropathy & more changes but with each change I have learned to depend upon Jesus more and more. None of these changes have been easy because life put other things in there along the way but we are all stronger then we think and I know you will do just fine dealing with this.
    Hugs & prayers for you my friend,

  8. Erica Vetsch says:

    Ah, Keli, I wish I was there to give you a hug. I’ve had life-changing news like this before. The feelings you’re having are natural, and I’m proud of you for getting out there to do something about your diagnosis. (As I type this I’m just returned from another visit to the Mayo Clinic for a blood test.)

    The feelings of upheaval, uncertainty, and unreality will abate. You will fall into a ‘new normal’ and you’re going to feel better soon.

    Hang on, start that new routine, and know that we’re praying for you. 🙂

  9. Oh, Keli, I’m sorry you had to receive that news. Any type of medical news is always difficult to deal with. But it sounds like you’ve put together a great plan going forward. And who knows what type of great story ideas you’ll come up with as you take your walks. 🙂

  10. Keli, I know you will stay strong and get through this change. You should remember the many times you have faced challenges … waiting to get an agent … waiting for your first book … the many changes you faced when you doubted yourself. Some might think this is not the same, however, it is that same will and determination you used that will sustain you through this newest change.

    My thoughts and prayers will be with you. Think of it this way … while you walk or work out you can plot stories, think in character and before you know it you will be finished. Take a character with you each time you walk and they will be like an angel walking besides you 🙂

  11. Hugs coming your way, Keli! 🙂

    I, too, faced this news several months ago, and I’m with you, NATURAL is always best! I’m trying to exercise more, which includes walking and weight-bearing stuff. And having had a chronically ill family member for years has helped me have the CAN DO attitude necessary to deal with this.

    I wish I lived close by…we could be exercise buddies! (Don’t let yourself become disheartened; as you well know, perseverance is key in our approach!)

  12. Keli, What a bummer to get that diagnosis! I’m proud of you and how you’re responding, though. I had a health issue earlier this year that woke me up too and prompted my diet and exercise changes. I really feel so much better now, and I’m sure you’ll find the same thing once you get moving. (Getting started is the hardest part…I’m facing that battle as I type. :)) I pray the changes you make will curb your osteoporosis effectively.

  13. Keli, I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but you are handling it in the best way you can. You cannot change the past; you can only move forward and do your best from here on out! And remember, we can do all things through Him who gives us strength!

  14. Loree Huebner says:

    I’ve dealt with some back issues lately. This past summer my back went out. In September, I had a MRI. It showed three bulging discs in the lower spine. The spine specialist wanted me to go to physical therapy to strenghten my core. He told me that if I don’t take it seriously, I will have to have surgery. I’ve been going to therapy since September. I believe it’s working. I don’t want to have surgery yet…but it looks like it will happen somewhere down the line to pump up the discs.

    • Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

      All the best for you, Loree, I hope you will have a good surgery and will be well after it! A big hug!

  15. Good luck with your new routine. Thankfully, I haven’t had an issue, but dealt with life changes following a health issue for my late hubby. Sounds like you have a good plan to deal with the diagnosis.

  16. Donna Pyle says:

    Wow, Keli, I admire you so much! You are taking the bull by the horns and facing this head on. You can do it! I’ll be praying for you.

  17. Cindy R. Wilson says:

    Keli, you are a strong and dedicated woman, and I know you’ll do great with the exercising. And you have so much support from all of us, of course! Feel free to blog about it–vent, or talk about the good things or whatever! And I’ll be praying for you, too 🙂

  18. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks so much for your heartfelt comments, my friends. I appreciate every one of them. I’ve been out all day but will be responding to each of you via email as soon as I’m able.

  19. i wish half of my clients had as much gumption and motivation as you do!! wow!! talk about staring down osteoporosis eye-to-eye without blinking! i’ll be praying for you as you continue to adjust to the changes this diagnosis will make in both your lifestyle and in your emotions. thanks for sharing with us so that we can lift you up in an online support community. 🙂

  20. I’m sorry about your diagnosis Keli, but it sure sounds like you’re ready to tackle the situation and do all you can. 🙂 SO proud of you going ahead with the exercise program (and I’m relieved with the option you choose—I’m also on calcium and Vitamin D—in fact, I have to take a prescription Vitamin D—55,000 IU per week). ~ I’ll be praying for you, and it might not be much comfort, but I can certainly relate. When I was in my 30s I had to go on thyroid medication and that was “traumatic” for me (I’d already had 1/2 my thyroid removed). But now I’m on LOTS of medications—which I don’t like having to take, BUT it’s necessary for my health. 😦 And then of course….having 4 spinal surgeries last summer was a hurtle too, but the Lord saw me through that time. (I keep saying I’m going to write a medical book one day, LOL). Please take care, and know you’re going to be just fine! 🙂 Sending hugs, Patti Jo

  21. Keli, I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but kudos to you for the best of all possible reactions to it. You’ve taken the smart route in my mind and you’re going to feel the benefits of it in many, many ways. Good luck with your new routine!

  22. Sending prayer and encouragement your way, Keli! Sorry you’re going through this.
    Below is the link to an article which talks about what I believe to be one of the very best (if not the best) products out there. I just pulled up someone’s site, so I don’t know anything about the person giving this information.

  23. Susan Mason says:

    Wow, good for you for acting so quickly, Keli! I’ve been taking Vitamin D and Calcium since I turned 40 (per doctors orders). She also ordered exercise and I’ve been on and off over the years since I HATE exercise. My gym has been closed for 6 months with legal issues pending, so maybe I’ll check out Curves!

    Good luck with your new regime. I know you’ll be the big O into submission! 🙂

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