Monday, March 24, 2008

My Dad, My Health

The last time I went to visit my Dad, he told me a little story. Many of my Dad's stories aren't true beginning, middle, end types of tales. They are simple, straightforward, to-the-point quips. And his was:

My Mother never left the house. She stayed inside all the time. And she drank a coke every day. She wasn't active and she died at 68. When you get older, stay active. Go outside.

As much as I try to go on with my life and live as normally as one can with a bed-ridden parent, I can't ignore that my Dad's situation has affected me. My brother tells a similar tale. It wasn't random happenstance that we both (and Lisanna) joined Rain Fitness is SLU right after it opened, around November 1. My Dad had been in the hospital for 2 weeks at that point. I couldn't stand the smell of hospitals or their cafeteria food. I was surrounded by the heavy air of death, and that makes it hard to ignore your own quality of life.

Health is something I've always been somewhat aware of - and I fully recognize that it is a very liquid field of interest. There are always contradictions - new studies that seem to ignore old studies. Natural medicine vs western medicine - trying to find a balance and an appropriate amount of both. Preventative vs reactionary. Gimmicks and tried-and-true testimonies. Health means a lot of things to a lot of people. And it is a very personal topic. It's easy to offend or enlighten those around you when discussing simple things like nutrition, reading labels, exercise, sports, etc.

I'm not the epitome of health, but it has been interesting to sense a shift in my own priorities since my Dad's initial hospitalization. I'm much more motivated to go to the gym, avoid sugary foods (diabetes runs on both sides of my family), and commit to recreational activities like soccer, kickball and just going for long walks with friends. You can easily incorporate social time with physical activity. I cannot ignore this awareness - and more meaningfully - the link between my family and my health.

Just some thoughts.

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