Monday, November 16, 2009

Fitness – No Shortcuts

Our local newspaper ran a series of articles about weight loss and physical fitness. With obesity in America a greater concern than swine flu will ever be, it’s worthy of attention.

Suggested solutions for our nation’s growing girth, of course, are myriad: Weight loss and fitness centers; diets, liquid and solid, for every taste; pills guaranteed to burn off pounds when we sleep; fitness and weight-loss videos and CDs. We even have “The Biggest Loser” and other reality shows inspiring us to greater heights – and lower weights.

And yet, as a society, we’re getting fatter, not fitter.

Experts offer many explanations and excuses, but I think the reason is simple. We spend our lifetimes developing the problem – eating too much and exercising too little – but expect to solve the problem in an instant, with a pill or some too-good-to-be-true (because it is) fad diet.

Eat “whatever your heart desires,” we’re told. But if our hearts could talk, they’d inform us they don’t desire those greasy foods and tempting treats that clog vital arteries with cardiothoracic consequences. If we truly ate to our “heart’s delight,” we’d choose grilled over fried; fruits, vegetables and nuts over pastries, starchy sides and creamy sauces; and refuse the “super-size” option.

There are no shortcuts. Approaching the third anniversary of my quadruple bypass, I have learned there is no substitute for dedication, determination and discipline. It’s hard saying no to yummy desserts. It takes effort to read food labels and see what you’d be consuming. And engaging in rigorous exercise several times a week never gets easy. But the results – fewer pounds and inches, greater strength and stamina – are worth it.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Good advice for our bodies, as well as our minds!

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