It’s funny how every once in a while circumstances can conspire to give you a slap on the back of the head that shouts, “WAKE UP!”
Last Friday, I had the chance to cover the Surry County Schools’ Run/Walk for Life, an event that is designed to teach the county’s middle school kids the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.
During that event, Jennifer Scott, a school system employee, told a very personal story about how she used to be a competitive athlete but let herself go after marrying and having children.
She had her own wake-up call during a doctor’s visit and has subsequently lost 60 pounds in a matter of months.
After her speech, we were chatting and I told her that my story mimics hers and how much I admired what she did.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t balloon up with fat, but after years as an athlete I turned around and picked up a nasty smoking habit I can’t seem to kick.
Not an hour after writing the story about the Run/Walk for Life, I heard some folks in the office discussing that it was the deadline to sign up for insurance. (After four years without it, I’m finally eligible for insurance again!)
So I got on the ball and had the forms printed out.
Filling out the forms I soon learned two things:
1 - That insurance is really, really, really expensive.
2 - That if I pledge to begin an approved smoking cessation program I can get it a little cheaper. Not much, but a little.
So, I checked the appropriate box and pledged to undergo a smoking cessation program.
Shortly after checking the box, I had to call the local extension agent about the opening of this year’s Mount Airy Farmers Market.
Now understand, I’m a huge fan of farmers markets and have been to them in every place I’ve ever lived. I’ve seen good farmers markets and not-so-good.
But I still go nearly every time they’re open.
I can’t wait for the chance to stop by, pick up an onion and a tomato or two and chat with the local producers. (You can usually pick up a tip or two from them if you chat ‘em up and spend a dollar…)
During the interview for the story, the extension agent and I spent a minute or two discussing the movement to eat more organic, locally-grown food. She mentioned that mass-produced food often has to travel about 1,500 miles and sit in trucks and warehouses for a while before you see it on the shelves of the grocery store.
The discussion centered around how doing things naturally and minimizing the time between dirt and table can improve the nutrition of the food.
And besides that, it tastes a lot better! For the first time last year, I had access to a friend with a farm and he fixed me a salad with lettuce that he pulled minutes before we ate. I never knew lettuce could be so delicious! It was filled with flavors that you can’t find in the grocery story.
I was hooked. There’s lettuce growing in the garden as I write this.
So after work I went home and messed around the house and yard for a bit before taking a shower and settling in to watch a little TV.
Flipping through the on-screen guide I saw that a program called “Ingredients” was about to come on the Documentary Channel.
I can get into a documentary once in a while, and nothing else was on, so I tuned in.
Wouldn’t you know it?
It was a show about the locally-grown, organic food movement!
So, OK life. I’m listening.
I guess you’re trying to tell me to finally buckle down and give this quitting smoking thing an honest try. I guess you’re trying to tell me it’s time to get back to that healthier lifestyle I remember so well.
I guess you’re trying to tell me exactly what Jennifer Scott told the sixth-graders during her talk at the Run/Walk for Life:
“What I had to decide in my own life is that I mattered,” she said. “I knew others mattered but I forgot about myself.
“Don’t ever forget that. Keep healthy. Be active. Make time for yourself.
“Because you matter.”
See you guys at the farmers market in a couple of weeks. I’ll probably be the person slamming his own head in a car door due to nicotine withdrawals.
Keith Strange is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 719-1929.