I used to have a six pack–the kind of washboard abs that would startle girls who poked or playfully punched me in the stomach (especially if I saw it coming–“No, I didn’t just tighten it up. It’s always like that…”). Once, before basketball practice, a girl was impressed at how hard my stomach was, and I was like “You could stand on my stomach.” Long story short–Farts sound surprisingly louder when they are amplified by a gymnasium floor and a 120 pound girl standing on your belly…. Somewhere far away, a whale tried to answer that noise.
Now I am giving perfectly good size 34 waist jeans to Goodwill–something that hurts both my Dutchness and my lingering identification of myself as “athletic.” I am no athlete. A little while ago, I pushed a grill that was on wheels about a block up a gentle hill and I was sweating so hard that I had to change my clothes. If I drop something on the ground, I take a moment to evaluate how important that thing is to me before I decide whether or not I’m going to bend down to pick it up (“Do I REALLY need that? I AM just about due for a cell phone upgrade….”). Athletes don’t unbutton their pants to write a blog entry.
And I can’t just “go for a run.” Even when I was in shape, I could never understand the sort of mindset of a runner. I used to try it, and after a little while I would just start thinking about how good it would feel to stop running. “Why are you running?” my brain would say to me. “What is the big hurry?” Without a reasonable answer, my only response was to walk. The thing is, I LOVE to run when I’m playing sports. When I used to play ultimate frisbee, I was always the one saying “Let’s keep playing.” I would love to get a pick-up basketball game going, or ask the Spanish-speaking guys playing soccer at the park if I could join them, but now there is something other than regular, old out-of-shape-ness keeping me from getting in shape:
I’m afraid of hurting myself. I work doing something I really care about for a non-profit (appropriately titled, in that I do not profit, but it does provide health insurance) for my regular job, and then I also work a couple of nights at a restaurant (this job affords me and my family the luxuries to which we have grown accustomed–like a house. Or food.) If I hurt my knee playing basketball or snapped my achilles tendon jumping for a Frisbee, I would be completely screwed. It would probably cost about $5,000 out-of-pocket for hospital costs (even with my insurance) and I wouldn’t be able to work at the restaurant for 6 weeks or so… That could be really bad. I wonder how many other people might be in situations like mine–afraid to exercise. Or how many people there are who got hurt somehow and now they are losing their house–just because they hurt their back or blew out their knee and then they couldn’t work or afford to pay their bills.
Those are some of the things I was thinking about as I was reading the letters written on this blog that is part of the We Are the 99% movement. People shouldn’t be afraid to play sports–At least not because they are afraid of losing their house. I know we need to eat better, but maybe it’s not just eating stuff like this thing to the right that makes Americans so fat. Is it possible that universal healthcare could actually make people healthier AND bring down healthcare costs? Knee surgery has got to be cheaper than taking care of someone with heart disease.
I suppose it’s not all bad: At least it is easy to find people to film from the chest down when the local news needs a video lead-in about the obesity epidemic–I’m just hoping I don’t recognize my shirt. Or my sweat pants. I don’t know…. Does anyone else just have this constant, deep feeling that we could (and should) be doing so much more to take care of each other?