Not Your Typical Summer Vacation

Tim Sullivan

Ah, summer time! Like many summer vacations, this year came with a array of activities to choose from. I had options such as the standard cruises, European trips, visits to friends on the West Coast, stay-at-home day excursions, or 1-2 day adventures. After a little soul searching, I decided on the stay at home option with a focus on improving my health. As a 68 year old male, I found myself spending an exorbitant amount of time managing new and old medical conditions such as prostate and skin cancer, gout, hypertension and diverticulitis.

Trips to doctors’ offices, visits to the hospital, rehabilitation activities and the ingestion of pills were causing problems with my overall quality of life…not to mention my social calendar. Yes, the summer of 2009 would be a good time to face my medical issues and take steps to rectify them while enjoying the benefits of living in Montclair, New Jersey.

My first step was to line up my recreation activities. Local racquetball and swim clubs, along with scenic parks and fitness trails, provided me with daily social and aerobic fitness options. One-hour trips to friends and relatives at the New Jersey shore; Lake Mohawk in Sparta, New Jersey; and the Pocono Mountains offered viable alternatives to my Montclair routine. And, with New York City cultural activities a 30-minute bus or train ride away and 12 grandchildren living nearby, my lineup was taking shape.

Now it was time to focus on my medical issues. Upon consultations with my respective physicians and a personal review of my medical records, it was obvious I had some problems to tackle. However, many of my conditions could be remedied with some simple adjustment to my lifestyle.

Basically, I needed to bypass the daily cocktail hours and cut out the burgers and steaks. It was time to choose fruit over cookies. In a nutshell, it was time to change my life-long habits by adapting to a healthier diet and increasing my daily physical activity.

I am pleased to report that a few small adjustments appear to have made a difference in my quality of life. Yes, I miss the beers and martinis. And the sausage and eggs specials and trips to the Iron Bound District for steaks and sangria are a distant memory. No more pizza and nachos after racquetball or world-class Italian subs from Nicola’s. Instead, I have introduced myself to cold cereal, oatmeal and cantaloupe for breakfast. Lunch now consisted of yogurt and fruit, and dinner became a bevy of wholesome salads, vegetables and chicken or fish dishes. Each day also included a 90-minute aerobic activity ranging from racquetball to walking.

The good news is I lost thirty-eight pounds and regained normal blood pressure without medication. Even better; in four months, I’ve only had one gout flare-up, and for more than sixteen weeks, diverticulitises incidents were a thing of the past.

What can I say? It’s been a good summer after all…even without the cold crisp beers and endless buffets on those luxurious cruises.

Tim Sullivan, Exercise Science and Physical Education