HEALTHY AGING & YOU: “What is wrong with this Picture?”

What is wrong with this Picture?

Nicholas S. Prukop

I wasn’t going to write any more articles on healthy aging for a while – my “magic” had run its course. Then I was sitting in Vons today following a shopping trip eating some soup in the “customer corner” when a man with a backpack walked in to set up his tablet and “scan his screens”. I was stunned – I guess I shouldn’t have been – but I was nonetheless. He was in his 40’s (at least I think he was) and very overweight. He was approximately 5’7” and 200 plus pounds with what looked like a 45-50 inch waist!

Why was I so surprised by this picture since I have been seeing it every day for the past 15-20 years? I felt sad and angry all at once and wanted so very much to ask him “what are you thinking?” What sort of answer would have I received? “I don’t know – I guess I am NOT aware I have a potentially lethal problem?”

This series for me has been about exploring what it means to grow older gracefully and remain FULLY engaged (mentally, physically and spiritually) for all the years that are available to us before “moving on”. People just DON”T get “it” – that life is precious and when we spend our days sitting, slowly destroying the only body we will ever have, there is  NO hope of recovery or healing. You can’t FIX overnight what took years to destroy!

This man – like so many people – assumes that his life WILL go on.  Even though there are no guarantees for ANY of us – even those like me who CARED – there is no substitute for a consciousness that says “enough”! Why can’t we hear the body’s messages and respond to them? Why do we have to experience the emergency before we take appropriate action to prevent it in the first place? It is as Martha told me earlier about her experience at Hoag Hospital – patients DON’T care – that is why they become patients in the first place! Prevention to me is the recognition that 50 plus pounds above your ideal weight and a 50 inch waist is UNACCEPTABLE! Changing something NOW – any ONE thing – is preferable to SITTING in that chair fooling around with that tablet computer every day as though there WILL BE A TOMORROW!

I AM drawn to the notion that through the years of running and effort on my part, that I am “cutting the odds” in my favor and that if anything were to happen to me – and I lived – I COULD come back and regain my strength, energy, and fitness because I had trained my mind to do so over the years of my life. This man sat there oblivious to the danger he was in and the risks he was taking with his own life – unaware of the habits and comfort zones that were trapping him and “disabling” him from a future of growth, happiness, and love.

I suspect the question I am raising for each of us is “with this picture and this reality in front of each of us, what DO we DO about it?” Could I have intervened and MADE him aware or was I just in a position of learning something for myself?  Is this what I want from the fitness professional? Yes! In the short term there is very little we CAN do about this crisis but in the long term it IS critical that we educate, inform, and inspire those that WE CAN help and insure that we touch someone’s life for the better. WHEN this man faces whatever he is going face in his future, he will become alerted to the potential choices he COULD have made and will it be too late? No one knows of course but I AM betting on US to make the difference so that others CAN choose before it is too late!

Author Profile: Nick Prukop

Website:      Email: [email protected] Nick is an author, teacher, and speaker and has been a certified personal trainer and lifestyle and weight management consultant since 1992. He is currently recognized as a master trainer by the IDEA International Health and Fitness Association. He has been a runner since 1964 and has accumulated over 60,000 miles in that time.

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.
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