27 November 2013

Things I'm grateful for, Day 4: Good Health

As my countdown to Thanksgiving continues, today, I’m thankful for my health.
It sounds hackneyed, but I somewhat subscribe to the overused cliche, “If you have your health, you have everything.” 
The Dalai Lama has said “Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
I definitely feel like I have sacrificed my health in order to make money. Since leaving Billboard and going freelance in 2007, I have probably vowed almost every single day that I will work out. I have a treadmill in my guest bedroom, I have workout videos, I have a Wii with exercise programs. I can’t ever blame the weather as a reason to not be getting exercise, and yet,  the days I work out are far less frequent than the ones I do. I get up in the morning, check email and get absorbed into the work demands of the day.
Last year, after sitting with an ultra-fit Army Colonel on a flight who talked about how he runs marathons with each of his eight daughters, I, once again, vowed to get more exercise in and challenged myself to work out every other day for at least 30 minutes for 90 days. I almost made it... I worked out 40 of the 90 days and I felt great. Not only did I have more energy, but I had a tremendous sense of accomplishment.  
Similarly, I also vow to lose weight. I lost a great deal in 2003 and starting running/walking races, working up to a half-marathon in 2007. The weight has slowly crept back on and I seldom run more than a little bit now.  I know that my health would be improved if I even lost 20 pounds. Losing that amount was one of my goals for 2013 and I haven’t met it yet and, God knows, losing between Thanksgiving and Christmas is so hard it seems like you should get double weight loss for every pound you drop. I did give up diet soda on Jan. 2 and I gave up desserts and any kind of recreational sugar (i.e.: cake, cookies, ice cream, etc) in July. That has to have helped somewhat... 
I have family and friends who have poor health and I’ve seen the way it limits their lives in ways both big and small. Though my lack of being in good shape has kept me from achieving certain physical things, I have been tremendously blessed to have never suffered from any kind of illness or debilitating injury that has slowed me in any way...though if I don’t start working out more and eating less and reducing stress, I fear it’s only a matter of time.
I’ve seen how disease doesn’t discriminate. I look at someone like Las Vegas titan Steve Wynn, who is going blind. All his millions can’t regain his eyesight. Same with Steve Jobs. His money didn’t keep him from losing his battle with cancer. 
So once again, and this time publicly, I’m vowing to treat my health with more respect and to not take it for granted. I know how quickly it can all change: how a bad diagnosis can put the brakes on a life that seemed just fine hours earlier or how certain habits can limit the ability to live life to the fullest. 
Plus, I want to prove the Dalai Lama wrong.
As I mentioned Saturday, for the next several days, I’m giving to food banks in the nation’s poorest cities. The fifth poorest city/area is Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Arizona. It has a poverty rate of 21.7% Only 11.2% of Lake Havasu residents have college degrees, the lowest percentage in the U.S. 
Today’s $10 goes to the Lake Havasu Community Food Bank, which provides food to the needy in the area three days a week. 
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