By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
March 20, 2016
Today, I feel free. Unlike the weeks past I actually feel somewhat alive, like I have been released from a long running nightmare which has been ruining my life and taking control of my health. Okay, maybe I am being a little overdramatic, but one can feel that way when they wake up at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning rather than 3:45 a.m., drained and tired and angry from trying to crank out a blog with a broken body to boot. Trust me, I usually write the blog the night before it come out, ensuring the idea I will keep you up to date on the journey as close as possible. It’s not really a good idea to do when you have to work so many hours within such a condensed amount of time, but I am stubborn and dare I say, a little stupid? Well, Sundays were never a good day at work for me anyway, for I am typically a crab when it comes to showing up. Anyway, today I intend to be free and happy, in spite of the circumstances surrounding my personal life today. I will be spending some time with one of my oldest friends today, who is watching his mother live her final days. My friend Scott has been pretty down in the dumps about this circumstance, and who wouldn’t be? I look back at my journey and realize my mother’s health problems (and the subsequent issues afterward) were a huge reason why I have been steadfast in my journey to better health, despite the pitfalls and the setbacks and the food addiction. Truthfully, despite my age and “maturity,” I still can’t imagine a world without my parents. To lose someone that important in your life would be pretty devastating, especially when he is still pretty darn young. But there is a good parallel that I wish had better circumstances for my friend….he too is working to take back his health. This tragic ordeal will cause a setback of course, but I have been telling him for months that I wish to help him out and provide guidance on his journey. He lost nearly 40 pounds on his own, so I know he already has a good drive to push forward. Now it is time for me to try and step up to the plate.
With my new schedule taking place this week, I now have some extra time to try and help him out in his continued journey. It’s tough using the sadness and misfortune of others as a driving point to get healthy, but what else is a bigger reminder? My entire family went into panic mode when my aunt nearly died four years ago from subsequent kidney issues. She still waits for a kidney transplant, and recently had a bypass in her leg due to poor circulation. Not to be a completely ignorant rube, I never even hear of someone having this type of procedure until now! Anyway, our family meals used to be a free for all of bad food and junk…now we have colorful assortments of vegetables and very little meat and dairy. I just wonder what will be served at Easter this year, which I will get to attend! I wish tragedy wasn’t the biggest catalyst for such changes in one’s life, but I know how tough it is to make that change alone. I’m grateful my parents took the time and the effort to get my stubborn ass moving. I just hope I can do the same for my friend. I think it is rather typical when people decide to try and better their lives due to such devastating events in their lives, for much of the time a personal setback is usually the biggest reason in doing so. But that seems to be the issue with the human psyche. We become content with our issues until we see the polar opposite. Of course, in my case, I never really cared to look in the mirror. I never really cared because I had no real impetus to be healthy in spite of all the bullshit that would slip out of my mouth. I always fooled myself into thinking I could flip the switch and make the massive change needed to turn my life around. Of course, nearly four years and some eating struggles along the way and I know this is not the right narrative in my life; maybe not even for most people’s lives. For some, “flipping the switch” may work, for I have seen several examples on my Facebook feed. For me, it will most likely be a lifelong struggle.
Right now, I’m prepared for that struggle, and I feel like I will have to impart some of my struggles to others. I always think the biggest part will be the mental, at least in my life. Someone on my feed mentioned to me Iceland has one of the healthiest populaces in the world, with very low numbers in regards to diabetes, heart disease and other food related ailments. I threw my theory into the mix about the strong sense of community the entire country seems to have. On such a small island located in the middle of nowhere, having a divided populace would be rather catastrophic. I mean, when the economy collapsed, they all stood together and got through a few tough years before the country was on solid ground again. I also mentioned each community is pretty interesting, usually forming a choir and a marching band, with some even forming their own dance troupes. Some towns even have regular breakfasts and dinners! Now of course, the country as a whole is smaller than my home town of Tucson, so these sort of differences can become prevalent when compared to the United States. Connectivity, or the lack thereof, seems to be a good reason why the current presidential candidates are wildly divergent and crazy. I just think from a mental standpoint, the country as a whole loves being in a bad attitude. Either way, battling the poor health within our country is something which is constantly evolving, and much of the time it is too transfixed on quick fixes and pills. However, one article I recently read about a local hospital illustrates some new ideas to handle bad health, especially in mentally ill patients. http://tucson.com/news/local/new-tucson-clinic-integrates-mental-physical-health-care/article_8447117a-a4bc-5b68-889c-af25936d6bef.html
Now this is an approach I have been waiting for the medical community to really take a stand on. Personally, so much of the mental battle of poor health is often times overlooked. Now I do have a medically diagnosed mental problem, but the correlation is clear. A great many mentally ill people fall into poor health, not just from their condition but from the societal stigma of it. And then there is the isolation, not just from the lack of economic mobility but from also from the lack of understanding. Banner’s Whole Health Clinic is taking a much different direction in treating mentally ill people, seeking to separate the mental ill portion of a person’s life from the physical. Now the goal of the clinic is a pretty interesting one, and while there is no real research to back up their assumptions, the forward thinking is noble. Rather than watch mentally ill people fall into pattern of addiction in regards to smoking, drinking and drugs, a new approach to educating about good eating habits and staying active is something they hope to emphasize. One of the biggest issues with mental illness drugs is the fact so many can lead to pulmonary issues and even Type 2 diabetes. The doctors at the clinic are hoping a new approach to this problem is something that can allow mentally ill people lead longer and more productive lives. This is a rather bold proposition, since so many people in America typically look down on people with mental health issues, even when they have little understanding of the problem at hand. We have been emboldened to jump to horrific conclusions because there is rarely any consequence of the action. While there is still some work to be examined for Banner Health’s paradigm, there is still some good links between good physical health and mental health. http://fitstar.com/5-ways-physical-health-impacts-mental-health/
Now, a couple of things have already been pointed out…when you are in bad physical health, your health can be exacerbated with some horrible habits. A perception of isolation can also be a problem for someone trying to battle with their health problems. I think this is why I need to try and reach out more often, for I already know the issues related with bad health. I mean, I have devoted entire blogs to the days where I just didn’t care about anything or anyone. Heck, I even admitted I got drunk when I went out so I could avoid meaningful integration with other people, merely to the effect of thinking my huge, overweight body would make me a freak of society. Or something. Those feelings have been so long forgotten that they are passing memory. Of course, I still get them from time to time when I go to work and am tired as hell! I often times have negative conversations in my mind that could last for hours, especially since I am by myself so much. But then there are days like Saturday, my last scheduled weekend shift, where my mind was right and the work was plentiful. While I was sore and hurting by the end of the day, I at least got a little validation from some people I worked with, saying they were legitimately going to miss me as I disappeared to the weekday shift. I certainly felt good about doing what I did at work that day, handling the toughest job in the place, getting a little validation kind of made my day. I actually said “Thank you” and mentioned I will probably miss a lot of the people I worked with. I mean, I did work beside a lot of them for nearly seven months. But this is where the mental health side of the coin also kicks in. I feel better about the change. So many days I went into work hating my very existence. So many days I left work and would gorge on food and pretty much become a vegetable. Now there is some hope and change, and now there is some excitement as I look to the future in spite of some of the other issues in my life. Granted, today was a bit of a weird experience, mainly because I was in a good mood.
I will get a chance to see just how much this change will affect me starting this week, mainly because Jon will be out of town and I will be doing my own thing. I intend to do some actual running this week, while also working on getting my stomach and more core, seeking to gain some strength in those particular areas. Now it should be easy this first week, mainly due to the lack of weight training and such, but fighting to get back on the running track will be a challenge in itself. I really don’t know what to expect from this upcoming week, but like a lot of things right now, things are kind of changing for me, and I ultimately think for the better. While the mental fatigue of my job still weighs on me, hopefully the physical strength I look to gain back will be something that turns the tide for me. I will see you in about two weeks! We shall see what is in store!
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.