Ronald Szopa
Expectant father aims to be healthier for child

BY SUSAN STEVENS
Daily Herald Health Writer

Ronald Szopa, 52, wants to be a father, not a grandfather, to the child his wife Jamie is expecting in June.

That means getting in shape and losing some of the weight he gained since he quit smoking a decade ago.

The weight has already taken a toll on his health; in 2005, Szopa was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which was uncovered when he needed a physical to apply for life insurance.

“I’ll be 53 by the time the baby is born, and when the baby is 10, I’ll be 63,” said Szopa, an attorney from Elgin. “I understand what I need is a lifestyle change. This is the long haul. This is something I need to do so I’ll be in condition for my child.”

The diabetes diagnosis scared Szopa. He ditched the heavy lunches and restaurant meals, and he lost 20 pounds through careful dieting. But then his medication stabilized his blood sugar, he felt better, and he started eating. An Italian, Szopa loves pasta. He can’t pass up dessert.

“I can’t just have a cookie. I have to have half a dozen,” he said. “We know the right things to eat, and we do eat healthy, but we just probably eat too much.”

Szopa’s current weight is 280. He is 6 feet 1 inch tall. He wants to lose 30 pounds by June, then continue to lose weight. He hopes his weight loss will enable him to cut back on his diabetes medications.

Besides getting a handle on portion control, Szopa wants to figure out a better workout routine. He and his wife joined a gym a year ago but have never actually gone to work out there. Szopa wants to develop a workout he can do at home in the mornings before his commute to Chicago.

Ideally, better health will enable Szopa to take advantage of the freedom he now has to be a more active father. Szopa has four grown children, ages 21 to 27, from his first marriage.

“When I had kids before, I was a young lawyer working long hours and making no money,” Szopa said. “Now, if I need to take time for soccer games in the middle of the afternoon, I can do that.”