Every day as I grow older, I can’t help but think about my parents who both passed away in the prime of their lives to cancer and heart disease.

I can’t believe it was nearly 24 years ago when my mother, who was 51 years old, found out that she had colon cancer. I find it even harder to believe that she succumbed to the disease in only six months. This was the same disease that claimed the life of her mother five years earlier.

The second bombshell in my life came 16 months later, when my father died of a massive heart attack two days after his 53rd birthday. Although he’s been gone 23 years this week, I still find it hard to believe this man who had forearms and biceps that would make Popeye proud, died from heart disease.

I was only 32 years old when I had lost both of my parents and my world was turned upside down. To me they appeared to be vibrant and healthy people in their outward appearance. But as I’ve learned, appearances can be deceiving.

Following the deaths of my parents, I did go and seek counseling. One thing that stood out during these counseling sessions was that I needed to live my own legacy, and not try to live or dwell in the past. I needed to carve out my own niche for the sake of my family and for my own wellbeing. It really put my life in perspective.

Several years ago I began to reexamine my life and what I could do hopefully live a longer, healthier life. I joined a gym and began trying to eat healthier. I had played the yo-yo diet game several times throughout my life. I knew that somehow I needed to make a complete lifestyle change or risk battling my family genetics, which really aren’t in my favor.

I’ve found that hardest part about diet and exercise is sticking to an uninterrupted routine. I needed to find and schedule a time that was “my time” each and every day. I’ve found that I consciously have to think about what I’m putting into my mouth and whether or not it is something I truly need to eat.

As a result, I did end up losing about 25 pounds over four years ago and I’ve been able to maintain my routine, which is very important to me. I actually look forward to my daily workouts, which helps alleviate stress in my life and makes me feel great and energized.

Yeah, I still think about my parents every day. I wish they could have had the opportunity to watch my kids and grandkids grow up and share in their achievements, but it didn’t end up working out that way.

It’s my hope, as I approach my 56th year on earth, I will be able to share and experience the lives of my children and grandchildren for many years to come. Family is what is most important to me and I want to do everything I can to live out my legacy.

Scott Olson is the owner and publisher of the Itemizer-Observer

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