The Down Syndrome Ironman Chris Nikic attempts to be the first to complete an Ironman event with Down Syndrome. Welcome back to the Living Healthy Podcast! Today we’re going to be talking to an inspirational young man named Chris Nikic - The Down Syndrome...
“I think we really get down on ourselves when we mess up and then we backslide all the way. Try to find something positive. It doesn’t matter what your starting point is, you need to be ready to say, ‘I am done with doing this to myself.’”
Patricia Ebaire is not just a success story; she is an inspiration to others who believe that older age must certainly translate to struggle. Many of us pair the idea of aging with stiff joints, loss of flexibility, and general aches and pains. Yet, Patricia is here to show us how wrong that notion can be.
Patricia shared her story with us with the hope of encouraging and motivating others to believe in what they can do. “It’s never too late and you’re never too late,” she says.
We believe in her message and are grateful for the opportunity to share it. This is her story:
How Patricia Started on the Path to Fitness
Up until about 4 years ago, Patricia was sure that her health was fine. She had always been fairly active and at a healthy weight, so it never seemed of critical importance to monitor her weight very closely. “I thought everything was going great and didn’t think much about having gained 5 pounds a year over the course of the last 10 years.” That’s 50 pounds over the total time period. However, when thinking about it on a yearly basis, 5 pounds hardly seems worth noting. Yet, a few years ago, the results of her blood work told her it was time to make some changes. That was her wake–up call.
Developing Change and Structuring a Routine
With the guidance of her doctor, Patricia adopted some new health goals. Ideally, she hoped to exercise 40 minutes a day. Her actual routine looks more like 2-3 days a week. “It’s an ongoing challenge,” she says. She knows what her ideal fitness regimen would be, but she puts in her best and is satisfied knowing that she does everything she can.
This is perhaps where most people begin to give up. If they are unable to maintain the very specific regimen they had in mind, they begin to feel a sense of failure that drives them away from their goal. Patricia’s optimism tells her she can just try again the next day! Despite her fitness plan looking different from the initial goal, her progress continues because she does her best to exercise every single day, even if that only amounts to 10 minutes of brisk walking.
To be fair, her Tuesdays and Thursdays are highly active. On Tuesdays she can be found taking a strength and toning class, teaching yoga, and then playing Pickleball, a sport that merges the elements of ping pong, tennis, and badminton. On Thursdays, she swaps her strength and toning class for weight training and then goes on to yoga and Pickleball.
“At first, I didn’t think my food choices made an impact because I wasn’t feeling bad.”
“The other thing I needed to adjust was my diet,” Patricia explains. “I knew I had to change how I ate carbs, veggies, and protein. What I wasn’t into was balancing it all.” Incorporating the new changes meant “giving up things I was eating too much of. At first, I didn’t think my food choices made an impact because I wasn’t feeling bad. I never used to count carbs and calories in my whole life, but I decided I was NOT going to take a medication. I added fiber, ate less salt, and ate foods with fewer preservatives. Once I did that, eating enough became a challenge because carbs used to be a huge part of my caloric intake and I had to cut that down. But I tell myself every day that each day is a new start. So, even if I backslide a bit, I feel like I can try again the next day.”
We know that, for many people, adjusting nutrition can be a serious effort. We like to ask people who have done it successfully, what their biggest challenges were and how they overcame them. This was Patricia’s answer:
“Balancing the whole thing was my biggest challenge. I started carrying all my snacks with me so I would never be at the mercy of what food was available at the time. I also always used to look at nutrition labels, but I look at them with a different eye now. I think to myself, ‘Do I want one piece of cake or do I want a couple of meals?’ If I really get a craving, for example with pound cake, I cut one piece of cake into 8 pieces and I call them “Patricia bites,” so I take a nibble and I SAVOR it.”
Weight Loss Was the Added Benefit Not the Primary Goal
Patricia’s favorite thing about being active was not the weight loss of 54 pounds. “That wasn’t even intentional,” she says. “I just wanted to do what was better for my health.” Her favorite thing was the newfound energy!
“I feel like I can do anything any time. I forget that I’m 66 because there is nothing that I’m not able to do. I live on a second-floor apartment and I can carry 6-8 grocery bags up those stairs at a time. I love the energy! Before I lost the weight, I didn’t even realize how low–energy I was.”
If You’re Struggling to Believe That You Can Accomplish What Patricia Did:
It’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking that a person succeeded because they have something in them that you don’t. To that, Patricia says “I think we really get down on ourselves when we mess up and then we backslide all the way. Try to find something positive. It doesn’t matter what your starting point is; you need to be ready to say, ‘I am done with doing this to myself.’”
When it comes to sticking to a new routine, Patricia reminds us that “there are so many choices in terms of exercise and food! Choose an exercise you like by trying many of them until you find one that makes you smile. “It’s the same with food. “Maybe you do not like cabbage, so try spinach, or kale, or other greens. The fact that there are so many choices, means that you can find healthy foods that you like and build a healthy diet around those choices.”
In Moments of Doubt
When you experience a moment of doubt, Patricia shares that it’s important that you don’t beat yourself up over what other people are doing. “Pat yourself on the back for what you’re doing. Wherever you are is a great place. Don’t ever make your place a bad place. Your effort means so much more than what the other person is doing because their muscles have been doing that for years. Your muscles are trying to get there!”
Ultimately, her message to any generation is that “it’s never too late and you’re never too late. It’s okay to start over the next day, so it’s okay to mess up because you can start over.”
Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at email@example.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post!
For grammatical correctness, length, and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided.
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