Even while juggling a busy holiday schedule, Brenda Pryor gives herself the gift of healthy choices. Here’s how you can too.
South Euclid, OHDiagnosed with type 2 diabetes:
Holidays can be busy for anyone. But they’re especially hectic for Brenda Pryor, a classically trained pianist and church choir director who also sings in three choral groups. Brenda’s holiday calendar is packed with rehearsals and concerts along with get-togethers with family and friends. “The holiday season can be extremely challenging when you have diabetes,” she says. “There are so many celebrations and so much food at every one! There’s more stress, more to do, and less time for exercise.” Her strategies to stay on track?
Brenda’s famous for her crunchy and colorful salads. “I start with the freshest, darkest greens I can get, like spinach or romaine lettuce,” she says. “Then I add tomatoes, cucumbers, red and yellow peppers, radishes, green and red onions, even strawberries. I toss in fresh herbs like basil or cilantro. And I might serve more toppings on the side, such as sliced onion warmed up in balsamic vinegar. I make sure the greens stay crisp by spinning them dry in a salad spinner.”
“I’ll take a walk around the mall before I start shopping,” says Brenda. “Anything that fits in a little extra movement helps—I’m the person who parks at the far side of the parking lot to fit in some extra walking time and who takes the stairs instead of the elevator or the escalator.” She’s also started a walking tradition with her family. “I make sure I get out there for a half-hour walk before or after a big family meal,” she says. “Often, my sister or my sister-in-law or other relatives come along. That makes it more fun.”
Handling Stress and Hunger
Brenda keeps better-for-you snacks (such as nuts and fruit) and a book or magazine in her purse and tote bag at all times. “If I’m stuck in line at the post office with my Christmas cards, I’ll pull out my book and start reading,” she says. “This cuts my stress levels down. And when my stress is low, I make healthier choices all day long.”
Treats in Check
“If I know I’m going to have a small piece of cake or a few cookies, I’ll refrain from eating the rice or the bread and butter on the menu,” says Brenda. “But if I can tell it’s one of those days when I won’t be able to stop with two or three cookies, I’ll avoid the sweets entirely. It’s all about knowing yourself.”
Special Support and Friendship
Brenda’s a member of an upbeat support group for women with diabetes called the Divabetic Club, which meets monthly at the Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland. “I learn so much, have a great time, and feel so inspired by what the other women are able to accomplish,” she says. “It’s important to talk with other people coping with the same challenges that you face.”