By Scott Robertson
I promise I’m not going to turn this space into a self-indulgent diary of my quest to lose weight, but I did want to make a couple of points before leaving this topic, so thanks for your forbearance.
Last week in this space I discussed the fear I felt hearing about the sudden death of a relatively young woman. I talked about how many of us are putting ourselves in danger of dying young. We overeat and under-exercise. We smoke. We drink to excess. We have turned prescription drugs from a cure into a disease. We make bad choices then allow them to become bad habits and eventually into early visits to the undertaker.
To those who emailed “attaboy” messages to me for trying to change my own lifestyle for the better, thank you for your kind words and support. But I did bring the necessity of a radical lifestyle change on myself, so I’m really only trying to right a long-standing wrong I created.
To those who emailed and called telling me that you too feel the need to make a change in your own life, I wish you every success. I know no secrets beyond diet and exercise, moderation in all things and common sense everywhere you can apply it, but let’s please keep in touch and be there to support each other when it gets difficult (notice I didn’t say “if”).
It’s been both a good and a bad feeling to find out how “not alone” I am in being overweight and out of shape in this community. While I feel blessed by the outpouring of support, much of it from people I’ve never met, I also recognize the fact that too many of us share the problem.
We’re hurting not only ourselves and our families, but the entire community in which we live. I happened to hear a presentation from Tennessee Commission or Health Dr. John Dreyzehner a couple of days after last week’s column went to press. The facts are as stubborn as they are scary.
Northeast Tennessee is the least healthy region in the state, Dreyzehner pointed out, and Tennessee is one of the least healthy states in the union. The Volunteer State is volunteering for little these days beyond smoking, eating Cheetos, and watching our favorite program on TV (which evidently is called “anything at all that’s on TV while we sit here smoking and eating Cheetos”).
Of 50 states, Tennessee ranks 45th for the percentage of residents who still use tobacco products. We rank 46th for obesity. We rank 49th for sedentary lifestyle.
Remember all those, “Your momma is so fat…” jokes? Well other states are pointing at us and telling, “Your state is so fat” jokes. And what are we doing about it? Aside from belching at them, not much, apparently.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be like this. I’ve been the poster child for miniscule will power all my life. But I walked the equivalent of a half-marathon Saturday on the sidewalks of Johnson City and the Tweetsie Trail. There were dozens of other people of all shapes and sizes on that trail. I did not feel intimidated by them just because I was fat. I felt good to be doing something that may keep me alive longer.
If I can do this, anybody can.
I read this week about what’s happened regarding fitness in Oklahoma City. That city was named the fattest in America by a leading Men’s Health and Fitness magazine (I believe it was Men’s Health and Fitness Magazine). Instead of just lambasting the magazine on talk-radio and in newspaper comment sections (or maybe in addition to doing those things) many citizens of Oklahoma City banded together and began supporting each other in diet and exercise programs. This month, that magazine ran an article called “The city that lost a million pounds.”
Doesn’t that sound great? Isn’t it impressive?
What’s keeping us from doing that? Inertia? Laziness? Ignorance? Lack of focus? Oklahoma City had every one of those things working against it and overcame them all.
The bottom line is this: where health and fitness is concerned, for the vast majority of us there’s nothing standing in the way of each of us making our own lives better – except ourselves.