I'm going to get right to the point. Obesity scares me. When the people I love neglect their bodies and health, not only do I fear for them… I fear I will lose them way too soon. I was browsing Fox News online earlier today and came across this article about heart attack survivors who don't change their eating habits (or start out good and go back to eating crap and not exercising) and it hit me pretty hard.
You see, three years ago my dad had a heart attack (in and all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet no less). I almost lost my dad because for years and years he has neglected his body. The consequences of both my parents being unhealthy has always been in the back of my mind, but until that point never really scared me.
It scares me now.
That day in the hospital I saw obesity in a new light. I finally saw it as dangerous - I saw it as something that could take away people I love. It's been really hard to vocalize this to my parents without getting angry. After the attack, my dad did eat better and he exercised… for maybe 6 months. My mom kept on the same path of bodily destruction she's been on for years, and slowly my dad joined her again.
My parents have a hard time walking around. They aren't old, but their bodies are showing wear that shouldn't be there yet because of the weight they are carrying. Maintaining a healthy weight isn't just about looking good. When you're healthy you feel better, your body works better, you sleep better, you're at less risk for diseases… the list goes on.
I feel like as Americans we are conditioned to put junk into our bodies, and it's killing all of us. I can only beg the people I love to practice healthy habits so much, but even I don't always succeed in practicing them. We live in a society that tells us that things should be easy… and with growing technologies, etc. we are all becoming lazy because as far as I know there is no iPhone app that's gonna get my ass on a treadmill. Motivation has to come from inside, and staying healthy isn't easy. Losing weight and retraining your body and mind for health is even harder.
To my parents, finding health seems like an impossibly steep mountain to climb. Unfortunately, it is a mountain that never had to be there in the first place. The last time I really sat down with both of them, we were in a bakery. I couldn't bring myself to order anything but hot tea, because standing in front of that case of sweets with the two of them just took me back to that day in the hospital. The three of us sat down at a table, me with my tea and my parents with lattes and a big slab of chocolate cake. I couldn't watch them eat it. It's the hardest thing in the world to sit and watch people I love most in this world kill themselves with food. My dad promised me that day they were going to "get healthy" but I've heard it before, from both of them.
The thing is, I know they both want to. I know that for both of them, food is an addiction. Add that to their sedentary lifestyle, and you have a losing situation. I can beg until I'm blue for them to get up and start moving… gradually chip away at the bad habits they've developed and finally start living healthier.
I beg them to stop breaking my heart. I once told my dad "I know I have to lose you sometime, but please don't let it be because you're fat. Please don't let it be because of something you could have prevented."
I beg all of you to strive towards a healthy lifestyle, no matter what shape you are in right now. If nothing else, think of the people around you who love you and would be devastated if you were taken from them too soon. I hurt for my parents every day, and pray that they will find the strength and motivation to do something about their health. I'm not sure how much hope I should have though, because if a heart attack won't jolt someone into reality, I'm not sure what will.
Be healthy for yourself and for the people you love. Do it to feel better and live longer. We all have it in us, and if we motivate and encourage each other we'll find success.