ALBANY – After a 2020 medical exam showed he was on the verge of diabetes and had other impending health issues as well, Jon Howard turned over a new leaf – a spinach leaf, a leaf of green vegetables – and eliminated meat from his diet.
The Albany City Commission member from Ward I also embarked on a walking routine that he followed for over a year without missing a day.
“I just feel good,” he said. “So far I have lost about 33 pounds.”
That was not the case last summer, when Howard received harsh advice from his doctor about his test results.
“What happened, last year I went for my regular physical exam, which was in June 2020,” Howard said. “My doctor said he was not impressed with my (tests). My A1C was 6.4 percent.
An A1C level of 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes and a level above 6.5% indicates diabetes in a patient.
He said, ‘I know you know what to do, you’re educated and you work in the medical field,’ Howard said. ‘He challenged me. He said,’ What you have to do is is exercise. “
One of the first steps for the commissioner, who does not drink soda, was to eliminate fruit juices, which his doctor told him to be high in sugar.
“Fruit juice often contains added sugar,” he said. “On Friday 24 (June), I drank lemonade. I said I will stop this; I will stop using white sugar altogether.
Howard, who didn’t eat pork and red meat before his diagnosis, has also given up on lean / white meats, including chicken and fish.
“I only eat vegetables: spinach, cauliflower, greens and cabbage,” he said. “I don’t use salt on anything. Eating soul food is a thing of the past for me.
A year ago, Howard also took to rocking hard with Forrest Gump.
“I started walking last year – July 21 of last year – and didn’t miss a day,” he said. “And I walk a mile a day. Doctors will tell you that you need to exercise for at least 15 to 30 minutes a day.
Howard said some of his family who had tried to adopt similar habits had stepped back, pointing to grandparents who ate poorly but lived to old age. But Howard said the previous generation was much more active than people today.
For Howard, the positive results accumulated quickly. A health checkup in January found his A1C had dropped to 5.4% and his blood sugar had improved to a healthy range.
Seeing the difference the changes made to himself, Howard said he wanted to spread the message to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Its eastern neighborhood of Albany contains zip codes 31701 and 31705, which have the most poverty in the city and majority minority populations. And the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how devastating the underlying health issues can be for these populations.
Of the 312 residents of Dougherty County who have died from COVID-19, the overwhelming majority are black and reside in those two zip codes, Howard said.
“The underlying health issues ended up doing this to people of color,” he said. “Diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney problems. There is a lot of obesity. Once this virus hits your immune system, you can no longer fight it. “
Last year, the city of Albany partnered with the Dougherty County Health Department, which makes instant visits to businesses and communities in the area to spread the message of healthy eating and health. ‘exercise.
Howard would also like to see ministers push the issue from the pulpit.
“I hope that as we start to come out of the coronavirus, they will try a trial sermon for their congregations, because COVID-19 has shown what can happen when you have these underlying health issues,” he said. declared the commissioner.
Churches also have members who work in health and who can stress the importance of adopting healthier lifestyles, he said. A group of black doctors recently released recommendations for the community to get vaccinated, and Howard would like such efforts to be repeated.
“What my doctor said was a wake-up call,” he said. “I would say to people, go see their doctor, have them do your lab tests, have them explain everything to you, from vitamin A to vitamin Z.”