Serving up vitality
5/20/2016 9:45 AM
More than 800 wins for the Texas State University volleyball team and a slew of records as a college coach have been defining accomplishments for Coach Karen Chisum, but she’ll have you know that her health is also a point of pride.
“Growing up, I was outside all the time, constantly moving. We climbed trees and made up our own fun.” She loved playing tennis and softball at Pecos High School.
Her family of five siblings lived on a diet of meat and potatoes in a time when that was considered healthy eating. Three of Karen’s siblings are now diabetic, and her brother Ricky died at 29 from an enlarged heart. Each sibling was tested for cardiomyopathy, and Karen was negative. These realities helped Coach to get control of her own eating habits and to maximize her already active lifestyle.
“Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good hamburger and tacos, but now I’ve begun to enjoy my salads, fruits and vegetables. I even quit sodas a year ago.” With her time on the volleyball court and her evenings at Zumba and kickboxing classes, she’s burning more calories and is rarely sedentary.
She took advantage of her gym’s personal trainer to have an expert show her what exercises would be best for her personal interests and needs. “I bring my sister Royanne along and tell her, ‘We’re gonna keep moving for an hour.’ It’s great socially because we’re having fun with terrific people.”
She enjoys walking around the Texas State University campus after lunch, either with a friend or solo while listening to her 60s tunes and country classics. She recognizes the benefit of having friends and co-workers who are all active. “I tell my players to surround themselves with people who make good choices and I do that too.”
Karen has always stayed on top of her health screenings because of her family’s history of heart disease and diabetes. After being the ‘sickest of her life’ with the flu, she knows the value of flu shots and shingles and pneumonia vaccines. She credits a long relationship with her family doctor, Randal Jacks, M.D., with saving her life years ago.
In 2006, she wasn’t feeling well and thought she was having appendicitis. Dr. Jacks sent her for a scan right away and discovered a small kidney tumor. Her right kidney was removed and, since it was caught early, she didn’t have any additional problems. “The Good Lord was taking care of me, for sure,” she added.
As she influences the fitness and nutrition decisions of so many athletes, she works hard to live the message. When the volleyball team is on the road, the girls enjoy dining at Luby’s or Chili’s for the many options provided. Coach adds, “Our strength and conditioning coach educates the kids so well, and I want to follow those great guidelines.”
Karen’s healthy lifestyle is a strong inspiration to women noticing the inevitable changes of the decades. Adapting eating habits and finding interesting ways to be physically active are the key.
Coach shares, “My best advice is stay active and burn those calories. You can have fun doing it and bring along that friend or sister who needs your encouragement.”