Family trip to amusement park was a real eye-opener
If you’ve ever wanted proof that there is an obesity epidemic with its epicenter located right smack dab in the United States’ Midwest, you need go no further than King’s Island just north of Cincinnati.
Yesterday, our family drove the two hours from Indianapolis to enjoy some time together on the roller coasters and other amusement rides. And while you’re standing in line or sitting down while waiting for other family members to meet back up with you, you people watch. People are really interesting. Some are young, some are old. Some are tall, some are short. Some are white while others are black, brown, and yellow. Some smile while others frown. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and temperaments. But perhaps the most noticeable observation was that many were, well, just plain fat.
I have never seen so many butt cracks, muffin tops, flabby arms, beer bellies and chubby cheeks in one place (Okay, the Indiana State Fair runs a close second). For those of you that are super-sensitive, you might think I’m being mean. I’m not. I’m just giving you a candid assessment from my vantage point. And that vantage point is that of a personal trainer, fully engaged in trying to help people win their battle with obesity and all of the health problems it portends.
I’ll admit that before I started my weight loss journey and started studying to become a personal trainer, my reaction was probably typical. I’d think (or even say), “Holy cow, would you look at that fatty over there.” I know, “fat”, doesn’t sound very P.C., but it is what it is. Even when I was grossly overweight, I’d still poke fun at someone that was really fat – something I’m not proud of now.
Today, however, I have a totally different perspective when I see someone who is overweight or obese (see, I changed my terminology!) I feel a lot of compassion and concern for people struggling with their weight. I’ve learned that obesity comes from so many places and it is hard to overcome. Physiological conditions, health conditions, stress, depression, genetics, environmental, upbringing, and other factors all contribute to obesity. Before people know it, they are adding on the pounds. And speaking from personal experience, it’s just easier to pack on the fat than it is to work it off.
At King’s Island, I actually started feeling sad seeing so many people who were incredibly overweight. I watched as a team of teenagers workers literally had to stuff a lady into her seat and use an extension on her seat belt so she could ride a roller coaster. They had to delay the coaster for nearly 10 minutes. I saw more than a dozen obese people riding those little scooters around and then parking them in the 90-degree sun only to watch while the rest of their family ran off to enjoy a ride. And I observed a lady (probably 350-400 lbs) take nearly 15 minutes to walk about 75 yards because she had to sit down and catch her breath every 10 yards or so. And at the water park, I saw more under-sized swim suits that I could even begin to count. Let’s just say that many women should have given up wearing bikinis 100 lbs. ago. And some of the men needed larger swim suits, too.
Perhaps the thing that saddened me the most was the number of young kids who were already obese. They will most likely face several health complications and, more than likely, a shortened life span. I’m not talking about older kids; there were children as young as two that were incredibly overweight. I wished there was something I could tell the parents to help them help their kids. Unfortunately, it probably wouldn’t do any good for most. The fact is, there are more than 6 million kids that are obese, and that number is rising.
Personally, I can attest to how much better I felt walking around King’s Island for 12 hours after having lost 65 lbs. and working out 6 days a week for the past 15 months. I never got tired, I was able to comfortably ride the rides. My family also noticed the difference.
With eight out of ten people over the age of 25 either overweight or obese, chances are that you or someone very close to you is struggling with weight and other related health issues. You (or they) need to do something now, before it’s too late. But you have to want to change. You have to commit to work hard and understand that the first couple of months aren’t going to be a walk-in-the-park. You’re going to be uncomfortable and, at times, sore. But you’ll get through it.
My challenge to you is to start today (the day you are reading this for the first time). Then one year from now when you have lost weight and improved your health, plan a trip to King’s Island or another amusement park and enjoy the rides and a great time with your family… just like I did.
To your health!