"H" is for Health

Grateful April in the A-Z Blogging Challenge

On the road again. For the first time in my son’s professional baseball career he is on a team we can get to without a 5-hour plane ride and $2,000 in expenses, so on nights he pitches, you can bet that we drive the three hours to see it. That’s where I found myself last night. I had six hours in the car to think about my “H” post.

As I munched sugary car ride goodies and sucked down a giant coffee while sitting nearly motionless for eight hours, I knew exactly what my “H” would be. Health.

Despite my total lack of discipline yesterday followed by a kamikaze-like attack of a “mama meal” at 9 o-clock at night, I really do think about my health. A lot.

I was conditioned young to think about health. My sixth grade P.E. teacher bribed her students to run a 6-minute mile. If we did, she would treat us to a milkshake from McDonald’s. Irony aside, it worked. Four of us managed to do it, jeans and all, and enjoyed our shakes while the loafers enjoyed watching.

In junior high, that same teacher persuaded us to run track, infusing so much excitement into winning that a small group of us decided to “train” (we thought we were such jocks) outside of school hours by running around our neighborhood on Saturday mornings. We felt very athletic. This behavior carried over to high school track, though, and I made a habit of getting up early to run, right up until I was 19 years old.

And then, marriage and kids.

It didn’t happen right away—the extra pounds, the muffin top, the complete disregard for my figure, pants size, floppy underarms or cholesterol level. The pounds snuck on like weeds in a flowerbed; one or two at first, and before I knew it, my once immaculately manicured landscape was littered with lumpy, bumpy, unattractive invaders.

I began to blame my body changes on the mirrors in Ross dressing rooms. Bad lighting, that was it. When my pant size went up again, my best friend convinced me that manufacturers were to blame; hadn’t I noticed that sizes didn’t fit the same as when we were younger? Manufacturers were making clothes smaller now. That must be it! They were running a conspiracy to make women feel fat. Great plan.

My problem certainly wasn’t that every Sunday I’d eat an entire box of Raisinetts and bowl of popcorn while watching NASCAR on the couch for four hours. My new figure could not be the result of cheeseburgers, French fries, and nightly ice cream or cookies. Looking back, I’d guess my daily caloric intake to be about 3,000 in those days while my exercise had gone to zero.

The turning point came at a baseball game many years ago. My brother-in-law complimented my new figure, saying how nice it was that I was finally filling out and turning into a woman. I was only 32. The remark caused me to look at myself through his eyes, and I finally saw what I had chosen to ignore: I had let myself go.

The changes didn’t come overnight. It took a few more years of discipline and exercise with plenty of failed attempts. Eventually, I realized that my attitude about my health had to change; I began to see healthy living as a lifestyle, not a chore.

I’m still not perfect. I hate drinking water… and I do experience episodes like last night where I absolutely fail at self-control. But unlike the past, it’s only a one-day fail; I’ll be back on the Spin bike tonight, and not just because I want a slender figure. Today, I have different motivation.

I want a healthy body. I was blessed with good health, good organs, blood to donate, eyes that see, and legs that move me, and I’d like to show some appreciation. There may come a day when I’m not so lucky.