Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gift of Life

Christmas is almost upon us, and 'tis the season for gift giving.
Here's a little secret: You have been given your gift already, as I have, and let me tell you, we don't really appreciate this precious thing we all have, a precious thing called life.
As much as we treat this planet like our own private landfill, what most of us do to our bodies is something even more disgusting and shameful. Whether you believe that a supreme being created you, or that your body is just the latest phase of an ongoing evolutionary process, it is the ultimate sign of disrespect to whatever process got us here that we try to kill ourselves slowly.
As someone approaching 50, I have become aware of the failings of the human body, marvelous structure that it is---cut your finger and it fixes itself!---and I have also started to look outside myself as I try to get in good shape to make sure I get every minute I can out of this world.
What I see is a lot of people who have let themselves go to the point where I wonder if they are going to keel over later tonight. Fat people, drunk people, smokers hacking up gross hunks of stuff that they then spit out on the sidewalks; drug-addicted souls smoking, sniffing, shooting up whatever they can scrape off the floor, all manners of slow suicide, often by sick people who can't help themselves. And I haven't even mentioned the slowest, most insidious way we are killing ourselves: Death by food.
This is the South---home of the best BBQ, the best fried food, and not coincidentally, the most obese and unhealthy states in the country. A recent study found that of the 50 states, Georgia is number 43, joining Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana and Kentucky in the bottom 10. The healthiest states were the New England group. The Union wins again…
As I have mentioned, getting older and becoming more aware of these things has also heightened my awareness of how easy it is to let yourself go, and how hard it is to fix the problem. But you can do it, and if you have any small amount of self-respect, you will do it.
Join a gym today. If you can't afford it, do something free: Start walking for a half hour each day. Eat more vegetables. Stay away from greasy, disgusting fried food. Don't look for anything nutritious in a fast food restaurant or in a convenience store, because there is nothing nutritious there. Read labels and learn about what you are putting in your mouth.
You know what you have to do. It's all over the TV, on shows like the Biggest Loser and Dr. Oz. Fat, unhealthy, wheezing souls on their last legs, looking for a quick fix. It ain't happening, folks. You have to take matters in your own hands and honor the gift you have been given, instead of destroying it.
There is a saying that in return for a life, a death is owed. What you can do is delay payment as long as possible. Have a happy and safe holiday season, people, and hopefully we'll see each other at the gym in the next year, and not another funeral for a 45-year-old who dropped dead of a heart attack.

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