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At 66, Pat Conroy Turns His Health Around

“No one likes to see themselves fat,” said novelist Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides and The Water is Wide. “I never liked it, never got used to it. But there it was when I looked in the mirror.”

Pat Conroy makes no bones about it in a recent Washington Post article – his road to recovery, which began three years ago after a failing liver and Type 2 diabetes landed him in the hospital, has not been easy.

For the burly writer whose published work includes a cookbook that he uses to tell the story of his life through decadent food he has enjoyed, a complete one-eighty in exercise and diet was crucial but seemed unlikely. Years later, it’s easy to see that Mr. Conroy’s health reversal over the past three years is one of his proudest accomplishments.

Mr. Conroy’s health troubles began in 1996, when his doctors diagnosed his diabetes. The doctor advised more exercise and weight loss, but Mr. Conroy continued to eat and drink in excess despite weight gain and neuropathy. Despite not changing his actions, he knew his visibly declining health was a problem.

By 2012, he found himself in a hospital bed with failing organs. “I was in the process of dying,” said Mr. Conroy. The novelist knew it was now or never and to the doctors said:

“You will never see me again – and that’s a promise.”

At that point, Mr. Conroy radically altered his diet, quit drinking alcohol and began working with a personal trainer and a nutritionist. He regularly exercises in a modest fitness studio that includes just the equipment he needs and none that he doesn’t. His trainer and wife keep him focused on his goal of habitual exercise and healthy eating, and with their encouragement and his discipline, Mr. Conroy has lost 25 pounds and maintains a normal blood pressure without medication.

Motivation and guidance are often essential when a patient is faced with dramatically upending their lifestyle or simply incorporating more movement into their routine. As evidenced by the role of Mr. Conroy’s expert help, older adults often benefit from a program in achieving wellness goals. Our therapy teams see seniors progress through disease education and guided exercise every day, because feeling in control of your own condition leads to increased engagement. With a steadfast partner and motivator, wellness can become a lifestyle.

“I keep coming back,” says Mr. Conroy. “I have made it [exercise] a part of my daily life, like writing.”

And we are glad for it, since the renowned author says he has four or five more books to write.