Just Do It

That was the Nike slogan a few years back, and it still resounds, it is still relevant and appropriate every morning I open my eyes to meet a new day. Just do it.

I don’t care if you weigh 400 pounds and can’t lift yourself off the couch or if you’re a 110 pound marathon runner, we owe it to ourselves, to our family, to our country to – just do it. To get healthy and remain healthy. Do it every day.

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that between 2007 and 2009, 2.4 million people became obese. Harvard researchers fear that 42% of Americans will be obese within the very near future, and this, they estimate to expand to 75% by the year 2020, if we don’t change our ways. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that weight related diseases account for ten percent of all medical spending, impacting the cost of health insurance for all of us. Employers are terrified of this trend and how to cover the increases that are expected as we become larger and larger. My employer offers us monetary incentives (reduced rates and reimbursement plans) for active and healthful lifestyles. The National Institute of Health estimates that $75 – $125 billion is spent each year on the direct and indirect costs associated with obesity related diseases.  Being unhealthy is a burden not only to yourself, your family, loved ones, but to our nation. This goes way beyond being a personal lifestyle choice. The choice may be personal, the cost is global.

I don’t care how you start. Just do it. Find a success story that inspires you, read it, follow it if its ongoing, then make your own story. Seek medical advice, trying, at all costs, to avoid quick fixes like surgery and prescriptions. More lasting, satisfying and meaningful results come from one thing only; more lasting, satisfying and meaningful work. Hard work, daily sweat, and adopting moderation into your life. With each day comes some small triumph, and in time, however long it takes, your life is reshaped, remodeled. The burden is lifted.

This will require great effort, of course. But think of the great effort your life already requires. Is there a significant amount of effort required to stand up, to walk any distance, to bend over, to tie your shoes, to go to the bathroom, to bathe. This will just be a gradual exchange of effort.

If you are resistant to the idea of changing yourself for the better, talk to somebody you trust, a friend, an expert of some sort, a therapist; what are the underlying causes for your resistance, for your self destructive behavior? Get to the root of the cause, resolve those issues, then take the next step, the step to better health, now knowing you are worth it and you deserve it, you were always worth it.

An alarming trend in our society, coincidentally matching our increase in obesity, our increase in heart disease, in diabetes is the advocation of tolerance for obesity. I, personally, do not think less of overweight people, having been one myself (my BMI put me in the “overweight” category for the better part of two decades, and I flirted with “obese” a time or two). I will admit, though, that people who won’t make an effort to become healthier, just baffle me. Being baffled is not disrespect. I respect everyone for who they are, whatever shape or size (or color or creed, or nationality or religion, or political party or sexual orientation). I just really want to help! I want everyone to be able to really experience health, to experience life, to be fulfilled. 

Now to be brutally honest; as a frequent flyer, when I see a new baby, a toddler or an obese person enter the cabin door, I’d prefer to sit next to the baby or the toddler because at least I’ll have room for my shoulders. If someone is going to take up a quarter of my shoulder space, all of the arm rest and prevent me from being able to sit comfortably, maybe even cross my legs at some point during the flight, I’d like them to contribute to the cost for the portion of my space they’re using. Thank you very much. 

There is another movement afoot, of sorts, that I find quite offensive, and it seems to be somewhat in line with the tolerance for obesity campaign, and that is the public disrespect of skinny people, skinny girls in particular. “Skinny bitch” is actually the phrase I see most. Just like some people have a natural tendency to be large, others have a natural tendency to be slight. By no fault of their own. The persecution of these people is as cruel as the persecution of the obese. It doesn’t hurt any less. Persecution is never appropriate, on any basis, for any reason. 

For those of us who have to work very, very, very hard keeping unwanted pounds off, the persecution of thinness causes, in me, besides a silent explicative, the same reaction the gun control issue invokes in me, “you want to take sides and fight it out?” In both cases, being both armed and fit, I’m thinking the odds are in my favor. But let’s not go there, shall we? Luckily, I have great self control, I am able to control, for the most part what I eat, how my firearms behave, and I even have some control over my thoughts. 

Just do it. Make the effort to make a change. After two years of hard work and sacrifice, having lost fifty pounds and five pant sizes, I was able to do an hour on the cardio machines, an hour of Zumba and an hour of cardio weight lifting, in the same night, if I chose to (which was not all that often). But running a single mile, outdoors, on real terrain, seemed insurmountable. I joined a running club, my impetus was to run 13 by 13, and the day I did my timed mile, to identify which “pace group” I would train with, I was so triumphant! I ran a whole mile without stopping. I ran a whole mile at a fairly respectable time, though my heart rate was way off the charts. Within a few months, I’d moved up a couple of pace groups and could run six, seven, eight miles. Another month and I could run ten or twelve. I completed my first half marathon running at a pace a full minute faster than I’d trained at. Then, I ran eighteen, then twenty miles. I continue to run. Now I’m shooting for a full marathon, which, honestly, seems insurmountable right now. 

It all starts with the very first step. It all starts when you lace up your shoes, stand up and take that very first step. Every step forward is a success, no matter how far you go. One little step forward is one little step further than you were yesterday! Whether you are running or walking, whether a block, a mile or a marathon, every step forward is a triumph.

My first home work out video, when I first started this journey, I did half the warm up, half-heartedly. Sweating and panting, I was impressed with myself that I was able to remain standing to view the remainder of the forty minute video (thanks Jillian Michaels). Within a week, I was able to complete, with effort, the video, following the “beginner girl”. Now, I can run twenty miles, I cannot complete a Jillian Michaels video at the hardest level, following the “advanced girl”. And I’ve just begun the “Insanity” work out series, talk about humbling, there is no “beginner girl”, I am the “beginner girl”. I have yet to finish every exercise in any one video. But I make progress every, single day. Just sayin’, don’t let what others can do discourage you, there should ALWAYS be someone to inspire you, there should always be something to aspire to. Marathon runners often continue to strive for longer distances, fifty kilometers, fifty miles, a hundred kilometers, a hundred miles. Seriously. Weight lifters always strive to lift more weight, high jumpers always try to reach new heights, long jumpers, new lengths. There is no athlete out there content with where they are. Athlete, or not, we should not be content with where we are. 

I am fifty pounds lighter, I wear a single digit jean size. I am not content. I have more capacity for improvement in my cardiovascular fitness. I definitely have more muscle tone I could develop, I still have the whole rest of my life to keep fit to live to it’s fullest. 

And I know I’ll never be perfect, I’ll always have a little extra skin on my belly when I lean over, I’ll probably always have a bit of cellulite, I’ll always have those stretch marks. Does that prevent me from moving ahead? No! Hell, no! That isn’t the point. It isn’t at all about how I look, it is so much more about how I feel! And I want you all to feel as good as I do, all the time! I feel amazing! My ability to manage stress is greatly improved, my energy and enthusiasm is greatly improved. I am more focussed on tasks, I get more accomplished in a day. I am so much happier. What doesn’t sound appealing about all that?

So, I invite you. Just do it. I’ll be right there with you!

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