Physical Activity – Where the Rubber Meets the Road – Part II
I met a 60 year old woman who was originally from Colombia at the gym today. Her name was Martha and we shared an interesting – yet brief – time together. She said she worked two jobs – one at Hoag Hospital for years to care for – and raise her three children who are now grown. She identified some of the same issues I raised in Part I of “Physical Activity” so I decided to explore in more detail some of the ideas I shared in that article. Her insights are quite interesting and she shares many of the same concerns I identified in my previous discussion.
First she mentioned the way people seem to have lost their way when it comes to their own health needs and inadvertently think that when the time comes and their health becomes an issue, (whether they live or die), that the doctor “will take care of them” (my father took such an approach with his cancer diagnosis in 1983 before he passed away). She noted the lack of concern shown by many patients at Hoag about the situation that many find themselves in – including the point that they may have contributed to their OWN predicament! I found her to be mostly on target when it came to the issue of weight and the obesity situation in this country. She saw as I did the nature of the problem resting in the hands of the parents who never set proper boundaries for their children and how hard she worked over the years to not only keep her children safe, but also teaching them to become responsible and accountable for their own lives. I was most impressed by her commitment to do whatever was necessary to help her children become independent and thoughtful adults who cared not only about themselves but others as well.
Finally, in working two jobs she was deciding FOR her family as a single mother and she was NOT going to FAIL! As she spoke I saw the years of sacrifice in her face – and in her eyes – and how she felt so strongly about family and its importance in creating the citizens of the future. I saw a woman of 60 who had done ALL she could for those she loved and now she was FINALLY taking care of herself. I could ONLY admire and respect such dedication and commitment – and love – and the power in that choice. I hugged her and commented to her that her children must really appreciate who she is and what she had done for them to insure their safe and incredible journey to adulthood! She had tears in her eyes and I felt that love on a very deep level as well. I will NEVER forget Martha and she is an example of what I was talking about in the part I of this article on Physical Activity. She provided her children with good food, good opportunities for growth, and lots of loving support in order to help them become MORE than she had been able to be in her own life. This is the beginning of turning the page on the obesity crisis – personal responsibility and accountability (her words).
I look at myself and my daughter and grandson as also being examples of what is possible in the future. Each generation “adds something” to the “mix of life” and subsequently new ideas and attitudes form as a result. The future rests in the ideas that have worked in the past and in the “seeds of new thoughts” and creative energy that are now just forming – and even in these words as I type them on my laptop tonight. For Martha and the countless “others” “out there” who feel they are alone this HAS to be a commitment we ALL keep or this nation just won’t make it. The families may be lost right now but that does not have to be the case if we all pitch in and serve the greater good in some capacity. The fitness professional will play a significant role in this process in the years ahead because we ARE the principle teachers of how to access the fitness lifestyle and change lives “one at a time”. We ARE the example of passion and commitment to the health and well-being of this nation’s people. I hope all of you who are reading my articles will develop innovative ideas and new “ways of being” as a result in order to be a part of the solution to these and other challenges – and NOT a part of the problem. My goal is to remain in this fight to the end and hopefully I will be able to be a significant “partner in change” that makes a difference in the lives of people like Martha who had to endure so much of her journey alone. I am grateful I met her today. She and her story have made a difference in my life and I hope it has helped make a difference in your life as well!