Don't Wait for a Wake-Up Call to Make Healthy Changes

Ken Brinck's diagnosis sparked a personal transformation

iStock-479861806.jpgThe pattern of Ken Brinck's life is familiar to many of us—work, family responsibilities and the hustle and bustle that can make our days feel like an endless treadmill at times. Creating opportunities for healthy, positive change is often challenging. A potential health crisis was Brinck's wake-up call and catalyst for change. Already struggling with hypertension and high cholesterol, he progressed from prediabetic to diabetic  in 2011. At that point, Brinck took a step back, changed his life and continues  to reap the benefits of this effort.

"I always ate what I wanted—hamburgers, pasta, pizza," says Brinck, a Herkimer resident and administrative director for regional operations and Herkimer Health Center for Bassett Healthcare Network. "I didn't want to end up like my dad, who suffered for a long time with the big three— diabetes, high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia."

Brinck had been coming home from work tired and hungry. When doctors con? rmed it was diabetes, he decided to make some major lifestyle changes.

"The ?rst thing I did was talk with my wife and daughter," he says. "We decided to change our lifestyle. There are de?nitely hiccups along the way. My family helps get me back on track." Brinck and his family especially enjoy hiking in the Adirondacks. In addition to increasing his daily physical activity, everyone in the Brinck family improved their eating habits. Brinck also worked with the diabetes education professionals at Bassett.

"The opportunity to interact with our patients to get them motivated to change behaviors for eating and exercising is huge," says David Haswell, MD, Brinck's primary care physician at Bassett's Sherburne Health Center. "Ken has been a fantastic example of a very busy person, with multiple irons in the ?re, who has reworked his priorities to make his health a more important factor in his life."

To stay healthy, Brinck made the following changes and continues them today:

  • "I watch my portion sizes and use a smaller plate."
  • "I walk 6 to 8 miles each day, and I think it is important to track mileage using a Vivo?t, Fitbit or similar device because it really gives a sense of accomplishment to see your total at the end of the day. Some devices give an audible or visual reminder of the need to move."
  • "Half of my plate is a salad; the rest is usually a small portion of chicken or ? sh and another vegetable."
  • "I bring my lunch to work, which often consists of low-fat turkey or ham on a spinach or tomato wrap."
  • "After having never eaten breakfast before, I started eating breakfast, usually Kashi."
  • "So I'm not 'crashing' in the afternoon at work, I now opt for a healthy snack like an apple or a handful of nuts."

To date, Brinck has lost 60 pounds, maintains a healthy blood pressure and remains free of diabetes.

"If you get in a position where you are not getting physical activity, not eating well and gaining weight, know that you can reverse it," he suggests. "You just have to get the ball rolling.

If you put your mind to it, you can make it happen." If you would like to make healthy changes in your own life, talk with your primary care provider about getting started.