Eyes: A Day in the Life of America"
3.31.05: (This story is about last weekend but could be any day and any place in America) I'm professionally trained to see and assess human movement and health. What I see when I'm out in public most people do not notice. I can tell from yards away if a person does not move properly by various compensations and postural imbalances. I can spot health problems in a person before they know what's going on themselves. I can see healthy functional movement that allows a person to experience the best in life through activity when others never notice. Last weekend I was flown into Florida for a consulting job. As with other business trips--or any time spent in public, I always watch people and make observations. This time I decided to take some notes and write a story on what I see in A Day in the Life of America and what our future holds in view of the current health status of most Americans today.
Pre-Flight Routine: I did the usual "RJ" routine for about 10 minutes which consists of my Dynamic Warm-Up exercises (10 reps of 10 exercises), some various push ups, and a few yoga poses. In less than 10 minutes I get more of a workout than most Americans get all year--and I'm not kidding. I do them right in the lobby--no watered down chi here baby! Most people think I'm weird. I think it's weird when you are so fat you can't function normally but don't do anything about it. To each their own...if nothing else it's worth doing to show the kids that it's okay to get a quick and healthy workout while at an airport--and fun! Instead of getting on the plane locked up and tight, I board with a fitness pump feeling ready to go. What a productive way to spend 10 minutes.
After my "airport exercises" I met a Drill Sgt. from the US Army while having a salad. His job was to train troops physically. He told me about all the problems in the military with poor fitness and lack of ability to perform. Today they cannot "make" the men perform like back in the day. They must suggest and support efforts, if any, to improve fitness. How ironic since a lack of fitness on the battlefield can mean sure death. The Sgt. told me about the need to be able to "jump squat" off the ground and away from danger on the battlefield with a 50 pound pack and rifle--yet many of the men can't even do 20 good military push ups let alone a weighted jump squat. I turned him onto my website and its body weight exercise section--he promised to use them for training his Army soldiers. I felt good about helping the military as I boarded for Florida...of course his guys might not think so the first few sessions but they can thank me later when they don't get their heads blown off from moving too damn slow.
Hotel Observations: I saw this obese kid in line at the buffet the first day. He had one of those shirts that glorified the life of a couch potato. I was tempted to tell him I didn't like the shirt. Then I looked for his parents. His Dad was sitting over by the TV morbidly obese making a huge pancake sandwich loaded with butter, etc. I don't get it. How can a parent kill their child on purpose?! The Dad's "lifestyle" obviously has been horrible for his health, so why does he advocate the same for child? Before my work each day, I went for a run along the marina and beach area of St. Petersburg right across from my hotel. One particular morning it was beautiful with bright sun and clean air. As I strode past the hotel fitness center to go outside I saw some guys running on the treadmill. I had to ask why on earth anyone would stay inside to run on a stupid treadmill when it was so nice outside, then I saw why, they were GLUED to the TV screen. The second day at the breakfast buffet I saw this morbidly obese guy stuffing 5 creamers into a 6 oz. cup of coffee. The guy had to be over 450 pounds yet barely over 30 years old. Sadly, his ass on that chair made the chair look like a pinhead! Do the math! Stuffing creamers and God knows what else into an inactive body adds up to major fat! For the life of me I cannot understand why a person would intentionally do this to their sacred bodies...it defies all logic.
Along the Beach: While walking with my client's granddaughter and talking about health and fitness, she told me about her friend that weighed 150 pounds--they are both only 9 years old. Her friend downs 5 pieces of pizza, 2 subs loaded with mayonnaise to the point of squeezing out each end, and 2 Cokes for lunch--all at age 9. She was concerned about her friend's health--at age 9. It's interesting to see Americans at the beach today in swimsuits. Obesity is pretty much accepted as "normal" today. It's disheartening to see young teen girls with so much fat they have major stretch marks...it doesn't get any easier to stay healthy as we age...I always wonder what it will be like for them when they are over 30 after getting such a bad start--it won't be a pretty sight or a healthy one. One of those sunny days during my morning run, I was seeing the "joy" on all the people's faces that were out to walk, jog, or ride their bikes. Young, old, heavy or light, if they were movin' they were groovin'. It was cool. I just love it when people get out and move and enjoy their ability to experience the best in life with healthy movement! Then I saw this fit looking female runner about 40ish working her way through a crowd of obese people. As I ran the other way one of the fat women commented, "Oh to be that young and skinny..." Interesting because I think she was "younger" than the runner. What was more interesting was looking into the fat faces of her kids. The difference in emotions with their faces as compared to the people exercising because they wanted to were dramatic. The kids were obviously being "forced" to go for a walk and get off their butts. Their faces relayed pain and anguish--they literally scowled in protest to this damn physical activity! How sad I thought. These kids should be enjoying a nice walk on the beach but probably wanted to be inside watching TV. This is a problem today. We do not have a "physical culture" anymore that values activity in America--and it shows in bodies of our obese kids. As I jogged along thinking about all these observations I thought how important it would be if everyone had just one hour of quality instruction on fitness from a real pro. I mean the good stuff--not some worthless BS--but real user-friendly fitness tips that work. It wouldn't cost that much. People have the money! My God--I was reminded of how much vast wealth is in America as I ran by the marina and yacht club. People spend money on all kinds of stuff, but I wonder how much money the people with the fancy boats ever spent on "proactive" and "preventative" health care?! How interesting too that one's "body" and health enables one to get out on the stupid yachts and hang out at the beach...again...the "American Way" defies all logic and common sense to me.
Coming Home: My job went well that weekend I reflected. I got to work with a family with three generations from age 6 to 81. I gave them my best fitness training and on-site wellness coaching tips and marveled as they "turned on" to high-performance fitness and health. This work is the best and brings joy to my heart. As I waited to board for home, I also really thought about our "culture" of obesity. As I got on the plane I was again reminded as I saw this obese kid about 19 stuffed into his seat like a jelly donut on steroids. The absolute pain and humiliation of this kid was sobering to me. His posture and emotions as he sat scowling with his arms angrily folded in front of his chest. He had to be uncomfortable both physically and emotionally because he was literally "wedged" into the seat and spilling out his butt into the guy next to him. How sad...and such a young man to have given up on his health. It reminded me of a guy I saw last year at the SF Airport on my plane. His butt was so fat that he did get stuck in the seat. Someone asked him to move and I counted FIVE attempts before he was able to pop himself out of the seat and get up--talk about humiliation! My God why on earth do these people suffer this way while they keep overeating and stay so violently opposed to physical activity? It's becoming the American Way...no, it "IS" the American Way.
Aftermath: Yesterday driving down the Atlanta Freeway I finally figured it all out. America is NOT going to get better. No way. We are too far gone at this point. There is way too much obesity and poor health completely out of control. We will continue to degrade on the downward spiral of sloth and poor health until others stronger and more fit take our country away and kick our fat asses. Don't believe? When was the last time the Greeks or Romans kicked serious ass? It can happen here too. Plus the fat kids of today aren't anywhere close to the height of their obesity and the health problems they WILL experience in the future. At best, people like me can only serve to ease part of the burden or slow the inevitable demise down. There are some brave souls out there in America that want to get off their butts and take control of their health--and IMPROVE! There are a few American companies willing to step up to the plate and be proactive with employee wellness--thank God for this initiative and foresight! These people will be exceptional and better off for their efforts--but will not be the status quo or the norm. For a person like me dedicated to helping America with wellness this realization was quite staggering. I've always thought before that we would get worse before getting better--but now I do not believe we will ever get better as a nation. Only a few will get better. For those that wish to change and improve health--I hope our paths meet soon. I'm doing my part. I'm teaching my children to be "physical culturist" and be active everyday. Do your best as well to do and promote fitness.
Stay the course of
fitness and health...it's worth the effort, FAR less painful, cheaper, and much