It’s true. Back in high school I was a track star.
Nearly every weekend I collected a few medals or even a trophy at
track and cross-country meets, some for individual accomplishments and
many more for my role on a relay team. My highlights include running a
4:23 mile (at that time the third fastest in my school history) and leading off for
the 4×800 relay team, which set a school record, won the state gold
medal in 1993 (my senior year), and clocked one of the fastest 4×800
relay times in the nation that year. Most importantly, I was healthy
and in shape, and looked pretty darn good in that skinny yet muscular
middle-distance runner’s body.
Well, let’s just say that today is a different story. I weigh in at
around 230 pounds, which with my 5′ 11" frame is slightly on the rotund
end. Indeed, at my height and weight I fall somewhere in between
"overweight" and "obese" on WebMD’s Body Mass Index scale
(link opens a new tab or window). This is not good. I don’t like
being obese – not only for the harsh connotations of that word, but
also for the impact it has on my health. Cancer runs in my family and,
as I’ve seen countless times in the hospital, healthy and fit patients
fight disease much better than overweight patients. But cancer fears
aside, I can’t run up the stairs or go for a long walk pushing the baby
stroller without getting winded. That’s just pathetic.
I’ve tried working out and improving my diet. A few years ago I did
the South Beach Diet for about a month or two, and last year at this
time I was running several times per week, a practice that lasted about
three months. Yet with countless Americans, I have failed to sustain
my dieting or exercising habits over the long haul. In the end, I
return to the Goldfish crackers, pork roll sandwiches, and the convenience of sodium-laden prepared dinners such as Hamburger Helper.
This is not an announcement of a new diet or
exercise regimen. No. Rather, I’m starting this thread simply to give
myself a dedicated place to think and journal about my health (I’m contemplating starting a new blog on the topic). When he was my age my uncle battled testicular cancer and, thanks to his great health,
he won the fight. But how would I fare if I was stricken with cancer tomorrow?
Furthermore, as I look forward to a career notorious for it’s health
pitfalls – parish ministry – I want to make my health a high priority
and key learning goal during my congregational internship next year.
You’re welcome to walk with me – but not too quickly at first, lest
I get winded – on this journey of reflection on health, and how it
impacts or is impacted by my work, family and faith.