Vernon, fat? I didn’t think so. He was just too heavy and physically slow to be on the football team.
But then things changed. That quiet, likeable, overweight kid reported for fall football practice looking physically fit. He was strong, solid, and had great stamina. His changed appearance and attitude were a big surprise to the football team, but not to him. He had decided to change his life. That summer he had found a job on a hay baler, moving from field to field running behind the baler. When the baling was done, he would load the hay bales by throwing them on a hay wagon. What impressed me was that Vernon didn’t change his diet, visit his physician, or join an exercise group. His desire to change his life guided his physical and mental reform efforts.
People like Vernon are not the only ones who can benefit from physical and mental reform. I read an article recently by Alexandra Sifferlin (“Fat Forecast: 42% of Americans Could be Obese by 2030”) in which she reported on a May obesity study conducted by Dr. Justin Trogdon of RTI International. Trodgon indicated that, “should these forecasts prove accurate, the adverse health and cost consequences of obesity are likely to continue to escalate without a significant intervention.” The health implications for people in this nation are huge as health care, life expectancy, and medical costs will significantly increase. One good piece of news: This obesity prediction is not as high as previous studies projected.
Just as Vernon decided to be accountable for his weight and health through eating responsibly and exercising, so the authors of this study are recommending strategies that are known to help people stay fit by including the building of recreational facilities, improving urban design, increasing anti-obesity social marketing programs, adding workplace health promotion programs, and developing new drugs and technologies.
But how do we create the desire and the will to be persistent in this daunting fight?
If obesity is to be reduced, an inner drive needs to be supported along with outside programs and facilities. In “Affecting Obesity with Spiritual Truths,” Shannon McKeown states, “If you are overweight or obese, your weight loss journey starts from the inside – out.” In another study, Duke University professor Dr. Harold Koenig suggests, “A growing body of scientific research suggests connections between religion, spirituality, and both mental and physical health.” This article and study support the idea that health starts mentally.
Just how important is it not to be obese? A survey undertaken at Yale University found that nearly 50 percent of participants would give up an entire year of life rather than be fat; 15 to 30 percent would abandon marriage, never have children, or become alcoholics rather than become obese; and around five percent would prefer blindness or an amputation to being overweight.
It’s pretty clear from research and personal testimony that the effects of obesity are multiplying rather than diminishing. The utilization of the mind-body-spiritual connection could be vital to addressing this problem. Whatever choices are made in overcoming obesity, they will need to be approached with the attitude described by Dale Fletcher, author of “America’s Plan for Better Health and Wellness. Where’s the Spiritual Care and Faith Component?” Fletcher asks, “What’s it going to take for the leadership of our country to be convinced that the strategy for the health care of our citizens must include man’s Creator, God, a personal relationship with him, and address the principles found in the book that He gave us to live by and that this country was founded upon?”
Was this the unseen motivation that Vernon found in overcoming of obesity?
photo by jeffreyw’s photostream.