By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
October 16, 2016
At work, today will be the first day I will be considered full time. I will be taking calls, trying to help ignorant people how to use their expensive and rather advanced phones and try to explain the intricacies of the company’s bill statements. It won’t be an easy transition for me, for I have never worked this kind of job and of course, this is nothing more than a stop-gap for me (hopefully). Either way, this will be the first time of my life for where I will need to really rely on my diet and my exercise to help control the stress and anxiety I will be getting from doing this type of job. Hopefully my first full day is just a happy result of people being hung over from the previous night and deciding not to worry about anything in regards to their phone bills. Please, let them all be hung up on their fantasy sports teams and real teams! Anyway, I will be counting the seconds till the end of the day, but at least the time will go a little quicker thanks to the fact I will have little time to react or even think when I get on the phone. I say all of this because a couple days before, we finally got all the info we needed about our future benefits. While I am not too impressed with my company’s health plan, at least the dental and the vision seem pretty good. I will certainly take advantage of those things due to the fact those are huge, immediate needs in my life. I know I have a couple cavities that need some work, and I know I need new glasses. So if I survive my full time stake at the company, I might live to see the fruits of those endeavors. It was kind of interesting to talk about the life insurance policy, finding out my company automatically takes out a $10,000 policy just for me. I guess they know the hardships and labors of the work. Anyway, I intend to possibly take advantage of the $25,000 policy that I can get for a few bucks extra. Might as well, for if I die, how in the world is anyone going to pay for my subsequent cremation and then turning me into an apple tree (just to reiterate, I want to be a Gala or Fuji apple tree…I don’t mind the Granny apples, but those are my No. 1 and No. 2 choices). It was an interesting discussion in the class, especially when it came to the pre-existing conditions portion and the tobacco portion. Of course, half the class is in trouble for the tobacco side, but I was rather surprised in regards to the pre-existing. While my company will allow you to join the insurance plan, they will make you pay up the wazzoo if you have a pre-existing problem. This was crazy considering two young people in the class (early 20s) had diabetes! Now they most likely had juvenile type 1, but still, it was quite sad to hear this.
For years, in fact since the very beginning, I have been talking about the abject failure we as a country have done in regards to our youth. The loss of physical education and the loss of physical activity at home has contributed to one of the heaviest generations of kids in our country’s history. I’ve noted several theories as to why this happens, ranging from the fact parents might not have enough of a hand in the child’s nutrition, allowing them to become overweight at a young age to the very idea that neglect can lead to a child using food as a way of coping. I have also pointed out that while many parents do know their kids need help with their diet and such, they seem to be oblivious to the fact their child is in danger due to 1) they compare their child to other kids and notice little difference and 2) they just really don’t care. Okay, the last part was pretty darn obvious, mainly because the “I don’t give a damn” attitude can permeate just about anything in our current culture. But it seriously is a problem, for we celebrated over the fact the obesity rate amongst children didn’t go up for once. Either way, this leads to a massive problem down the line, not just from a health system standpoint, which would be overwhelmed from the glut of new patients suffering from obesity related illnesses, to the fact our military will have some trouble filling its ranks due to the lack of healthy bodies. Bad health amongst the youth affects everyone, and it hits multiple industries. You think fat shaming is a problem now, just think of what will happen when a job like mine starts turning people away because half the people that apply might make their premiums skyrocket. Heck, half the workforce at my job seemingly suffers from obesity related problems.
Now I will not be cruel about this, but our country has been arguing for years on how to tackle this problem. Some simple solutions would be to add physical education back into the fold (I will admit, I was one of the pansy losers that was happy when it went anyone, and now I witness the errors of my ways) and maybe encourage people to not be so paranoid of each other. Either way, it is a problem that is just getting worse for the United States. Not only are we one of the heaviest countries in the world (only Mexico is worse than us) we are now one of the most unfit countries in the world. http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/13/health/united-states-children-aerobic-fitness/ The British Journal of Sports Medicine did an analysis of 177 studies over the swatch of 50 countries, and found out the United States finished dead last. It wasn’t all westernized countries so to speak, for some poorer countries like Latvia, Suriname, India and even Mexico finished above us in regards to having a healthy youth population. It wasn’t even close between us and the top scorers in the category like Iceland, Estonia and Tanzania (it seems extreme weather brings out healthier bodies…just a theory). In regards to the fitness levels of 9-17 year olds, the United States is just flat out falling behind. Nutrition is an obvious indicator as to why, but in the physical measurable of actual fitness, this is where we are lacking. And the worst part is possibly the reason why this happening….from what the research indicates, the bigger the wealth gap in the country, the lower they ranked on the health scale. This isn’t a new thing that is coming out, for I have expressed in other blog posts that kids who live in lower income households are bound to suffer from more health problems due to the lack of healthier choices. While many cities are trying to set up produce programs for the poor, it is still difficult to get people out and about to take advantage of these deals. The most difficult aspect of course is the perishable nature of produce, which most lower income family rely on frozen and highly processed foods to survive. And of course this frozen food also comes in a much lower cost and is often on special at most stores.
I know I have harped about this subject for a long time, but for me, this is a subject worth talking about. Think about an unhealthy future where just about everyone is in bad shape. While people like myself often think about the future through the reflective nature of Idiocracy, I often times think we are heading to a future closer to the likes of Wall-E. In this future, people are so in tuned with technology they forgot the very tenants of movement. They weren’t dumb like in Idiocracy, but the ignorance toward their own health was quite hard hitting. Think about it, a future where nobody would walk or even move. Truth be told I don't want this future to happen. I don't want a whole bunch of people rolling around in these weird futuristic wheelchairs. A future where we had forgotten about the simple pleasures like looking at the stars due to our symbiotic relationship with technology. I guess this is probably one good reason why I've become something of a Luddite. I try my best not to be too inundated with technology, but there are some days where I feel the pull to watch YouTube and hang out on the Internet for hours on end. It is a natural reaction to the world we are living in, due to all the changes that are occurring at such a breakneck speed that we often times become a little too dependent on our gadgets. This is why I am content with having no television and keeping a low data phone plan that keeps me off social media most days. Now it really sounds like I have a negative view of technology, but I actually have a very mutual respect for technology. I work at a job where there are thousands and thousands of intricate little things happening at every minute of the day. Things I would've never thought of or even contemplated are spelled out right before my eyes. While my job is extremely difficult due to the personal factor of it (i.e. the customers can be a pain in the butt to deal with), I still marvel at the details and the intricacy of the network. Things I would've never thought of or even contemplated have already been figured out and made available for my use. I just think we need to understand and accept a reasonable balance between our lives and the technology that enriches it.
There's a reason why I will never shame or deride people that have very strong emphasis toward health and fitness in regards to their children and themselves. Unless it has reached a level that is unhealthy and unsafe I can understand why some people might have trepidation toward this parental approach, but most of the time bringing up your children in a food healthy environment is nearly as important as raising them in an emotionally and mentally loving one. Of course this is coming from a childless man pushing 40, but it is still some sound advice. This is one reason why I always give props to anyone who decides to take a more fitness related path in life. The idea of taking such a risk when you compare it to the rest of society is quite admirable. Personally I would rather take the large risk of trying to be an athlete and be healthy than the gluttonous alternative form so many people choose and avoid doing these sort of things because they hear about the long-term damage that physical fitness can do to you (Jon shaking his head, facepalm…what? People really think this way?!). What about living life that is completely opposite of this philosophy? I do find it quite interesting that so many people consider their health when it comes to too much exercise but don't consider their health when it comes to much eating or not enough exercise. One thing I will always look to accomplish with my own life and with this blog is try to illustrate the difference of a healthy life versus a good eating regimen.....a philosophy that far outweighs the potential problems of a broken body, which is a convenient excuse for some. I choose to not make excuses.
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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.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
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Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. The author of this blog is an independent writer and is not an associate of Parsons Training, LLC. Any information or images displayed are done so solely at the authors discretion. Any dietary or fitness commentary is exclusively that of the author and in no way dictated by the company.