When I was a young professional athlete I sort out as much information and things from external sources like inspirational books, videos and other things I could find to help keep me motivated and help give me a psychological advantage on my opponent and just playing the game. One statement I have always kept in the back of my mind was from an inspirational speaker. One point that he said that has always stayed with me was this. “Good health is the one commodity we all have that we don’t appreciate until it’s gone.”
That statement has rang true with me and many athletes who were gifted in showcasing our athletic abilities on the field of competition. We were great athletes and to some degree we were at the top of our games until an injury either slowed us down or cut our careers short. Often times gifted and outstanding athletes took what they were able to do physically for granted until they could do it no more. That speaker was right in that our good health (as athletes) was not fully appreciated until it was gone.
Unfortunately I see the same in so many “ordinary people” every day. I travel quite a bit around this country and internationally and see people of different races, people of various ages, males and females and people of various socioeconomic backgrounds.
What I am about to say is not about offending anyone but from where I sit, we as a country and as a society are on a path to not appreciating our health until it really is gone. Many of us are on track for shorter life spans than others in foreign countries and even our ancestors. Why? You might ask. I’m not one to “sugarcoat” my thoughts and feelings but I have to be honest and say it is because we are fat and out of shape. As I travel throughout the country my heart aches as I see so many young people who are in my opinion “morbidly” obese. When I say young I am talking about young boys and girls and young men and women who are pre-teens, teens and those well into their twenties and thirties. My kids hated when I use to play those “when I was your age” stories. But, when I was a bit younger and in elementary and junior high schools physical education was a part of my educational curriculum and while I might not have enjoyed the classes I can say that at least I was exposed to exercise, the purpose of exercise and the benefits of just being active.
As a former high school, college and professional athlete, much of my life has been spent preparing to compete in sports. One of the good things that I took away from that life was the wellness component. I knew I could do almost anything if my health was good and intact. I would go so far as to say, given a choice between good health and money, I would choose good health. I could have played longer professionally but I chose my health (knees, hips and my brain) over the money. Knowing that once my active athletic life slowed down and eventually ended I chose to continue to work to take care of me and my body as I was trained to do in my previous profession. I will admit that being disciplined to workout or exercise is not always easy. I get busy with living life just like everyone else. But, the big picture of preparing for the game of life is more important.
Many of us live in this country and in this society where we eat lots of fast foods and foods that are fried and are high in fat and is not nutritious. With the lack of exercise to burn up those unhealthy calories those foods turn to fat. The unhealthy foods we eat as part of our diets, the sugary drinks we drink and the lack of exercise is a recipe for disaster sooner or later. Diabetes and hypertension are two of the main ailments many young people are and will be diagnosed with that could possibly be avoided with an appropriate sensible diet and exercise.
For everyone who reads this and you are fortunate enough to have good health, please don’t take your body and your health for granted. And for those whose health has been effected in some way it is never too late to develop a plan to eat better and more nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables. Exercise, especially cardiovascular exercises like a good brisk walk, riding a bike or jumping rope to stimulate blood flow throughout the body helps to ward off ailments. Work to lose weight and feel better to compete and enjoy a better quality of life.
So, regardless of who you are, make the time and the effort to take care of you. “Just move”! You don’t have to have been a professional athlete or even a wanna be athlete. It does take a commitment to want to take care of the one body you came into this world with. For you women, don’t be afraid to get your hair messed up. Just move! For you guys, don’t try and compare yourself to anyone else. Get off the couch and put down the smart phone and just move your body.
It is true that good health is the one commodity most of us have, let’s make sure we keep it and appreciate it for life!
– Harry Carson