Getting pregnant was a struggle for Joe Baker and his wife.
“My wife and I tried to have babies for a long time. We did in vitro fertilization twice and it failed,” said Baker. “And then, two years later we had a baby”.
Sweet baby Charles had kidney failure at birth. Baker and his wife, Pauline, an occupational therapy assistant, had to take a crash course in pediatric healthcare.
“You need to learn whatever you can so when a doctor’s talking to you, you have a reasonable grasp of what’s going on,” said Baker.
Five months later, a cancer diagnosis for their baby boy added to their health complications.
“We went to St. Jude and he did 48 weeks of chemotherapy,” said Baker. “And he beat the cancer.”
In 2018, Charles qualified for a kidney transplant. Cheered on by his little sister, Sophia, and his mom and dad, Charles is now a happy, healthy 15-year-old kid.
The successful transplant allowed Dad to turn his attention to his own health. Years spent as an on-the-road truck driver worked against a healthy lifestyle.
“It’s super hard to eat healthy when you’re riding over the road. You’re not getting much exercise. I got heavier than I should have been,” said Baker. “I needed to get my diabetes and blood sugars under control.”
Baker decided he would devote an hour of his day to walking. After 11 hours of driving when Baker arrived to his destination, he climbed out of his big rig and saw how many steps he could get within 60 minutes. When his son underwent his kidney transplant, Baker made a slight career transition to becoming a local driver.
“It changed my life because now I could be home every night. I could sleep in my own bed. I could get into a better routine of changing my diet. So I’m not eating truck stop food. I’m eating healthier,” said Baker.
Baker’s devotion paid off. Adding exercise and eating healthier improved his A1C from a dangerous level 10 down to below seven. After losing both of his parents within four months of each other last year, Baker set a goal to get down to 200 pounds by the end of 2023. So far, he’s lost 25 pounds.
“I have two children that I’m going to have to live longer just to be in their lives… I want to set the example for my children and try to live a healthier life,” said Baker. “My goal is to live into my nineties and not be in a nursing home. Still driving a car, still functioning, still being healthy. Living a healthy and productive life.”
When Baker heard about Healthier 901 Fest on the radio, he knew he had to come out to Shelby Farms Park for the community kickoff celebration for a Healthier 901.
“I got to meet Sherri Shepherd while I was there. I won a $50 Kroger gift card,” said Baker. “I think it’s a great program.”
Led by Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Healthier 901 is a community initiative for Mid-Southerners to collectively lose a million pounds in three years. Whether someone wants to lose 5 or fifty pounds or just live a healthier life, Healthier 901 is for everyone.
“I’m 59. I have to do the things that are suited for my body and I’m still trying to get down to 200 pounds this year. I don’t know if I’m going to reach that, but that’s the target,” said Baker. “The only way you achieve goals is having the willpower to do it. You have to strive at it.”
We’re glad you’ve joined the movement, Joe Baker. Together we can all reach our community goal because there is power in numbers.
To learn more about joining the Healthier 901 challenge, visit our home page.