Is Childhood Obesity A New Problem Or An Old Problem?

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 The General says I walk too fast.  Actually several people have made the observation that I walk fast. “You need to slow down and live a little”, is often the wise counsel hurled my direction by well-meaning friends. They hurl it my direction because they simply can’t keep up with me when we walk together. 

Could it be true that there is value in, “Slowing down and living a little?”  I envision that some of you are intuitively shaking your head “Yes” as you read the question.  Are you sure?  Could that really be true?  “Slow down and live a little”, seems to defy common sense.  From my perspective, it seems more logical to promote the concept: “Hurry up and live a lot” as one’s embrace for life.

Maybe I’ve simply listened to too much country western music.  Often the words to “Live Like You Were Dying” roll around in my head like a theme song that really is only getting started. Does it bother me that my 50th high school reunion is scheduled for the middle of this month?   

I remember when my parents attended their 50th high school reunion. They were both retired and “old” (Did I say that out loud? – No, I simply wrote it down).  Honestly, I don’t know where the years went, but you can’t get them back.  Consequently, I plan to hurry up and take it all in.  Selfishly, I don’t want to miss a thing.  Isn’t it true that many older adults live with a sense of regret primarily for what they didn’t do, rather than for what they did? 

There are only two songs (singles) that I ever purchased through the iTunes. One is a piano rendition of the Pachelbel canon in d major.  It was the theme song for the movie “Ordinary People”.  I like the song.  I listen to it often. 

The other is Tim McGraw singing, “Live Like You Were Dying”.  The words resonate at some level in my psyche.  “I went sky diving   I went rocky mountain climbing I went two point seven seconds   On a bull named Fu Man Chu   And I loved deeper   and I spoke sweeter    And gave forgiveness   I’d been denying…”

It may be delusional thinking on my part, but I’m good to go. I’ve only got one speed and it’s fast. I find that fairly remarkable because when I was in high school over 50 years ago, I was probably the slowest runner in the 50-yard dash. You’re wondering why I was running the 50-yard dash.  Trust me on this.  The need to run was a lot like compulsory school attendance is today.  You didn’t have a choice.  It was a school requirement sanctioned by the Federal Government. 

You have to be three days older than dirt to remember the “physical fitness emphasis” during President Kennedy’s administration. In case you ever wonder if life has a tendency to repeat itself.  Believe me it does. 

What is one of the major focus points and concerns in schools in 2015?  Isn’t it true that healthy nutrition and childhood obesity are high on the radar screen?  If only we could capture the concept of Confucius (551-479 B.C.) who said, “Eat until you are 8 parts full.”  The neurologist that spoke at our leadership retreat said that on more than one occasion, he’s seen family members whose loved one has been rushed to the hospital by ambulance in the midst of having a stroke where they are losing 8 million brain cells a minute, arrive at the hospital with a Big Mac and fries for their loved one.  Somehow we just don’t get it.

The “New Frontiers For Fitness” initiative was ushered in as a hallmark of John F. Kennedy’s administration.  “Overweight and out of shape” was the overall perception of students and the general population at large (pardon the pun).  Only a month after the inauguration, the new administration convened a conference on physical fitness. Charles “Bud” Wilkinson, a highly successful University of Oklahoma football coach was named the director of the President’s Council on Youth Fitness.

 Off and running isn’t a true description of my lifestyle.  Some folks do maintain that part of that equation is true.   They maintain that I’m “off”.  My only counter to that is, “At least I’m predictably consistent.”  No I’m not off and running.  I’ve never been a runner.  If you ask me why, “I’d probably tell you that I’m protective of my knees. After all, I’ve been out of high school for fifty years.  Prudent judgment would dictate the need to take it easy.  Some people think I’m old.  I’ve heard that a knee replacement slows you down (oops, there I go again) for a period of time. Since I’m in the midst of trying to hurry up and take it all in, slowing down is not an option.

The real reason I don’t run is because I have a long history of running slow.  The fifty-yard dash was not my forte.  I am a fast walker, fast talker and sometimes adventure stalker, but I don’t run; I walk.  I walk fast. 

 Roger Banister was a runner.  Why eat lunch when you’re in medical school? Why not run instead? And run he did!  In 1954 Roger Banister set the record for running the sub-4 minute mile.  He actually achieved the feat in 3 minutes, 59 seconds.  Until then, no one knew that man could run that fast.  Once the baseline has been established, it becomes a doable goal for others to break.  The following year, four people did.

Perhaps quality living emerges somewhere in the balance of “slowing down and living a little” and “Hurrying up and living a lot”.  A year ago, the General and I walked seventeen miles one day simply because we could.  Walking is a gift that I never take for granted.  Prior to back surgery three or four years ago, I had difficultly walking a block without the pain level being unbearable.  You would have thought I graduated from high school fifty plus years ago.  Consequently, today I walk every chance I get.  With every step I take, I am aware that the ability to do so is a gift.  I don’t take it for granted.  I am grateful.

All My Best!

Don

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