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Driving from the Backseat

Taking the Wheel on Your Health

Photo by Bram Van Oost
Photo by Bram Van Oost

As crazy as driving from the back seat sounds, it is not dissimilar from how many approach their health. We act as if we are a passenger in the back seat of our lives and the choices we make around health are just luck. Not unlike a car where we do not take hold of the wheel, our passivity at times can get us into significant health consequences. Looking back, I can see where it did for me.

With that said, I understand that we, as a culture, are on an uneven playing field regarding resources. Issues such as poverty, hunger, and homelessness can potentially put one’s health way down the list of priorities when many, many people are just trying to hang on and survive. 

However, despite limited options for many, be it for health care or support in wellness, many of us can still take steps to have different outcomes.

For years, my understanding of health care was getting sick and then getting over to the doctor’s office for a repair or tune-up.  While my mom would often say “take care of yourself,” it never had the meaning it does today with fighting each day, not just to stay alive but rather get and stay healthy. 

It is a significant investment to buy food that will not place my health at risk but will actually improve my health. Food for me is no longer about scratching that next itch with whatever may cross my mind but seeking out healthier options with a bigger goal than a craving.

I enlist help on the ground with movement and strength. I could never do that alone, but the choice to fight for good health is not one of convenience, and often, I struggle through the pain from previous surgeries, broken bones, and nerve damage.

By nature, I am a little bit lazy and, some days, a pure slug.  

People say, “How can that be; you’re a workaholic?”  While I do have issues moving away from my laptop or phone—I make myself; it’s not just from a place of discipline—it’s a matter of staying healthy and staying alive. It is that critical. 

As a child, Bewitched, the TV show of the 1960s, with wiggling your nose to get things from across the room, had a lot of appeal for me, and as a young adult, there was a time where steps taken towards the potato chip bag counted as exercise.

Today, I often share my workouts online, not because I am perfect at it but rather because usually, I am not very good. I am not a sports guy, team guy, or any of those things. The reality is that’s not how I defined myself for 60 years; today is a new day.  Today, things like tennis, pilates, running, baseball, and soccer are part of the landscape of my life. 

This year I ran in a race where I ended up dead last and despite having a laundry list of physical aches, pains, and numbness I celebrate because I am running.

With the support of a personal trainer, I do strength work such as pilates. However, we also hit baseballs and kick soccer balls, which keep me moving but also tap into my inner child. It’s a bit of a personal journey to engage my failures of the past, not because I was terrible or a failure, but simply because I walked away. 

Today, though, I am not walking away.

Today, the frail ego of that child is a distant bump in the rearview mirror. The work I do is essential because it is life-saving, but more importantly, it is “quality of life–saving.” 

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