Exercise paying off for West Hawai’i’s Jo Iwane
Who says exercise doesn’t pay off?
You don’t need to look far to see the dramatic results that regular physical exercise can produce on the body, mind and spirit.
Plato had it right when he wrote: “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”
Many of the major diseases that plague our society are preventable if we choose to exercise regularly and eat sensibly.
Retired elementary school teacher, JoAnn Iwane, is a shining example of someone who developed Type 2 Diabetes and did something to overcome it.
“I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about five years ago,” Iwane said. “I have struggled with my weight for most of my adult life and didn’t do anything about it until I developed diabetes.”
Iwane grew up in Kealakekua during a time in which girl’s participation in sports was not encouraged.
“I grew up during the 50’s and 60’s,” she said. “We did play some sports, but it was just a part of our physical education program in school.”
Growing up in Kona, Iwane recalls that there were no athletic teams at Konawaena High School and that she and others of her gender where reduced to playing half court basketball during her PE classes.
“My husband remembers the weird way I held a baseball bat because I didn’t know any other way,” Iwane said. “Those were the days prior to Title IX and we have lots to be appreciative to our late Representative, Patsy Mink, who made legislation that provided for the girl’s sports programs that almost equal the boy’s today.”
After spending 30 years in the classrooms of Kealakehe, Kahakai and Konawaena Elementary Schools, Iwane retired in from teaching in 2002.
“Besides teaching I also needed to ‘moonlight’ to help put my three daughters through college by teaching early childhood education classes at the UH-West Hawai’i campus,” she said.
With Iwane’s busy work schedule and the raising of her children the years slipped by without much exercise until the day came when her doctor told her the bad news, that she had developed a disease that could have been prevented.
“I actually started to go to the gym about 10 years ago, but I didn’t change my eating habits and my weight continued to go up,” Iwane said.
Today Iwane has made some great progress as she lost 10 pounds and will exercise regularly.
“I go to Pacific Island Fitness Gym at 5 am, five days a week to do 30 minutes of cardio workouts,” she said. “I will alternate between the treadmill and the elliptical trainer, and then I’ll do 10 to 15 minutes of weight training.”
Every Monday you’ll find this soon to be 64 year old doing her favorite thing, yoga.
“My Monday yoga class is my favorite thing to do at the gym as I am working on building core strength and balance,” Iwane said. “As I get older I become more prone to tripping and falling, so this is a major concern of mine.”
Iwane has also returned to eating a more healthy diet, with fewer calories.
“I love salads and vegetables of all kinds,” she said. “I try to eat fruit from our coffee farm like bananas, tangerines, oranges and avocados.”
Iwane has also reduced her consumption of carbohydrates and has moved to eating more fish and chicken rather than red meat.
“I love to cook healthy meals for my husband, Elbert, and me,” she said. “I love to go to the local farmer’s market to buy fresh vegetables and the like.”
The great news is that her efforts to change her diet, lose weight and maintain a regular exercise program has paid big dividends.
“Because of my regular exercise and losing those 10 pounds over the past few months, I am no longer clinically diabetic, according to my doctor,” Iwane said with great pride. “My sugar levels have been very low for at least six months and my doctor says I’m the poster child for exercise and diet leading to no longer being diabetic!”
And Iwane is not done as she has set the bar even higher for improving her overall health.
“My goal is to get off all of my diabetes meds completely,” Iwane said. “My dosages are being reduced every time I see the doctor, so I am hopeful this will happen soon.”
Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease through maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical exercise and a good diet.
JoAnn Iwane is a retired, senior citizen who is making the most of her situation by turning a negative into a positive.
According to Iwane part of her motivation in staying healthy as she ages is to see her two grandchildren, Maile and Logan grow up.
“You have to make exercise a regular part of your routine,” Iwane said. “We all have excuses why we don’t, but we need to just do it. For people like me who love to eat, just watch what you put in your mouth and try to eat as ‘clean’ as possible.”
Someone once said, “In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
And someday should you happen to see a happy, healthy, retired senior citizen doing what he loves to do – which is run – remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at email@example.com.