Friday, November 17, 2023

Your Body Is Amazing. Take Care of It.

Next week I'll be spending Thanksgiving with family in Alabama. In Alabama, 90 percent of the population attends church. An overwhelming number of them are evangelical Christians. Alabama has even been called the buckle of the Bible Belt. According to the CDC, 38 states have obesity rates above 30 percent. West Virginia is the most obese state, with an obesity rate of 40.6 percent. Not surprisingly, West Virginia also has the highest rate of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. at 15.7 percent. Next on the list is Kentucky with an obesity rate of 40.3 percent and then comes Alabama with an obesity rate of 39.9 percent.

According to some studies I've seen, obesity is especially true for people affiliated with the Baptist faith. Church, it appears, is good for the soul, but not so much for the waistline. There are Americans in their 30s and 40s with serious metabolic health issues (usually diabetes) and they seem to just accept it. They are going to face a lifetime of problems and vastly reduced quality of life. While I have no fear of death, I do fear loss of independence and the nursing home. I've exercised regularly since Becky died 10 years ago, and I can say that exercise has positively impacted every aspect of my life. I do what I can and should to take care of the temple. The most profound change I ever made in my life other than developing the discipline of daily Bible study and prayer was sticking to a weight training routine. Even if your progress is microscopic like mine is, just getting in slightly better shape can change much in your life for the better. Especially as we age, being fit can make all the difference in terms of quality of life. Just try opening a jar of gherkins. 

It's also really important to note the importance of rest and recovery. I now sleep at least 9 hours every night whereas 10 years ago I could easily get by with 7. Progress is slow in my 70s but it's been possible, albeit not quickly. 

I know you may be thinking, What a dingbat post! Why don't you just mind your own business? There's so much more to life than a thin waistline! You have a point. I know many extremely overweight people who are great spouses, parents, and Christians. Yet their lives may be at risk or cut short due to obesity-related issues. One might even question what kind of example they're setting. I realize that obesity may stem from a medical condition they are actively working to control or from a lack of knowledge about nutrition or meal planning or portion sizes or even from some unresolved emotional issue. I'm also aware that some studies show that people who are moderately overweight (BMI 26-29) actually have better health. Health, not weight, should be the ultimate criterion of fitness. But just because obesity is a taboo subject does not make it less risky. I think it's still something to consider. I also think that good health and weight loss is, for the most part, a choice. This is obvious when you look at the states with the lowest rates of obesity like Colorado or my home state of Hawaii. They also tend to be the states with the highest levels of physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices in general. What I am in no way saying is that it is right to judge people based on their weight. 

On the other hand, why should we just accept an unhealthy lifestyle as our destiny? Your body is amazing. Take care of it my friend. Get off the couch. Whatever exercise you choose you must enjoy doing it. If you don't enjoy it, you won't do it. Sustainability is the key. Keep going, keep going, keep going. Even if it's just walking. Keep pumping that blood through your veins. Don't despair if you've let yourself go. The body will respond at any age.