Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How is Mark Reid healthy?

In the past 5 years staying healthy and committing to be in control of my health has become paramount for me.  As someone who has worked in the HIV/AIDS area for the past 20 years, currently in the position as Diverse Sexuality Health Promotion Manager at the West Australian AIDS Council,  I have always been aware of the importance to health and staying healthy but it was when I reached a peak weight of 142kgs (sorry here in Australia we use kilos and not pounds) and was told by my Doctor that I was pre-diabetic and had high blood pressure that I had the wake up call that I needed to address my ever increasing waist line and these potentially harsh medical ailments.

For me staying healthy has evolved to encompass physical health, sex, alcohol and drugs and the role they play in my live, relationships, emotional health and spirituality.  Some of these topics will resonate with you and some will not but I believe that  we need to take a constructive combative approach to these as a community and begin to look at ways we can support each other to stay healthy in 2009 and beyond.

Men, women and trans members of our community all face challenges in terms of staying healthy and we each have to take personal responsibility for our health and wellbeing but we can also support each other to achieve these  goals.

It is not always easy to stay healthy and make the correct choices to achieve this. Slip ups do occur and I have learnt to acknowledge that they do and then work on dealing with that and moving to get back onto the road to healthy living.

For the first time I got serious in my quest to finally take control of my life and lose weight by committing to diet and exercise.  For someone who has attempted over the years to do this and has never really succeeded , I was determined this time that I would go the distance and get my weight to a manageable level and see if I could stop the onset of diabetes and get my blood pressure under control.

 In the beginning it was a real test and challenge.  How to unlearn over 30 years of bad eating habits and begin to look at exercise seriously for the first time.  Well I am happy to say that with yoga, some light running (that has now turned into running) and a balanced diet I was able to lose over 54kgs and although there have been ups and downs I have managed to keep most of it off. It is amazing that after so many years of feeling sluggish and lacking energy I have had a new lease on life and the past 4 years have seen me achieve some great milestones.

I was able to return to Latin dancing at the end of 2008 which saw me compete in the Sydney Mardi Gras Same Sex Dance competition and win 3 gold medals and a bronze,  something I thought I would never do.

For a long time I think we have pointed the finger and been very prescriptive in saying what we should and should not do but I think it is time to move past this and recognise the role that choice plays in our lives.  Making the right choices, by being informed and educating ourselves about these issues as well as looking at our options and adjusting them to what we know will work for each of us is paramount.  Having a sense of PRIDE in whom and what we are can help in assisting us to make those healthy choices.

To achieve that things that I have in the past 4 years in regards to staying healthy I have had the support of an amazing partner for the past 27 years, great friends and my family all important ingredients for me to stay healthy.

 I would ask each and every one of you to consider what it is that allows you to stay healthy?

-- Mark Reid
Perth, Australia

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