Each year my employer proposes that we try to take care of our health by conducting a 10-week “Live Healthy America” challenge. The goal is to exercise two hours a week for ten weeks. If you succeed, the company grants you benefit dollars to your health savings account. It’s an easy way to add money to your health savings, and I find the challenge easy to complete.
One day at work we were discussing the challenge and working out in general, when one co-worker replied “Why do you work out so much? You’re going to die anyway!” Before I could answer, someone started in on them about the health benefits and how weight loss and exercise has proven to extend one’s life.
I left the conversation, but the question stuck with me … why? I could fall victim of a tragedy, or get hit by a bus (in Des Moines, the latter is quite possible). So why do I do all of this, when it may not add years to my life at all? After all, no one is assured anything.
This Saturday, I went on an early morning run. It was 43 degrees in Des Moines, a rare treat in a usually harsh winter. We crossed a bridge and saw the ducks happily swimming where the ice once was, we saw the beautiful downtown sculpture garden as the sun was starting to peek over the buildings, we ran by Principal Ballpark where echoes of the crack of a baseball bat still loomed, and finally around the State Capitol, with its golden dome shining in the sun and changing the snow it reflected upon from white to gold.
After the run and breakfast, we decided to go on a bicycle ride. We smiled thinking about how rare a treat this would be. We got going and suddenly the wind picked up. It was blowing us around, and we had to fight to stay straight. We stopped on a bridge for a break, and watched a giant sheet of ice slowly float down the river as if it was off in search of colder climates. At that moment we saw a bald eagle soaring over the river, probably using the opportunity to catch some fresh fish. We took off again, but the wind was brutal and we had to return home after only a ten mile ride. But we were smiling because we rode ten miles outdoors in January.
I also got my answer to “why?’, and I hope in the above description that you did too. While this journey and lifestyle change started out with the idea to lose weight, become healthy and live longer, it has morphed into something much bigger. I have lost weight, I am healthier, I feel better, and who knows if I’ll live longer. But what this journey has transformed into is different than when it began. No longer am I concerned about adding years to my life, I am focused on adding life to my years. Yesterday was a perfect example of that, as all the things I saw, the fun we had, the memories that were made, all came because we were exercising and taking care of ourselves.
Here’s to a lifetime of memories just like yesterday.
Live healthy, be happy!
Ready for a January bike ride. Just need gloves, a jacket, and a helmet.