The Blog

The Blog

A Call To Action

by Ryan Burgess

“We can’t solve the problems by using the same kind of thinking
we used when we created them.” ~ Albert Einstein

Face it America: we have a serious problem on our hands, and that problem is the obesity epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, these are the most up to date figures available:

  • 33.3 % of men can be classified as obese (a Body Mass Index ≥ 30)
  • 35.3 % of woman fall into that category
  • Most disturbing, 16.3 % of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are considered obese, with even more tagged as overweight.

I know people out there that are already shouting and screaming that BMI is a lousy indicator, because BMI does not take into account those that are “heavy but healthy.” Although true, individuals that have higher levels of lean body mass are by far the exception, NOT the rule, so frankly I think hiding behind that logic is a cop-out. The truly terrifying fact is that the numbers continue to rise, and I really don’t believe it’s because our country is packing on the muscle. Obesity was given “epidemic” status before the turn of the century, yet it only gets worse year after year. But I’m not saying anything you don’t already know. We’ve reached a point in our society where the problems associated with obesity are given a passing thought, if that. One simple fact exemplifies the problem: as a country, we spend close to fifty billion dollars (that’s $50,000,000,000.00!) in the health, fitness and diet industry, yet our country continues to lead the way in obesity rates and their associated illnesses. As the brilliant Mr. Einstein said, we will never be able to solve this problem if we use the same kind of thinking used when we created them. This is a serious societal problem, and if we continue using short-sighted, low-cost, stop gap measures, nothing will change, and we will all be feeling the effects in a rather short time.

I am not trying to be outrageous when I say again that we are facing a crisis. To spend more and more on a problem that gets worse and worse is insanity- literally, if you define insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. This is happening because there is no single magic answer that will make it all go away. It’s going to be hard, and I truly believe that it is going to be one of the biggest challenges we as a society have ever had to face, but if we band together it will ultimately be one of the greatest obstacles we have ever overcome. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t our country founded on overcoming daunting obstacles? I am also speaking from experience, not from the convenience of a lifelong lean and healthy body. I was one of the statistics. I have battled the bulge my entire life, but it’s a battle I feel I have finally been winning in the last few years. I’m here to tell you that there is hope. We CAN change. If this article reaches just ONE person and inspires them to take that first step and inspires them to a lifetime of health and fitness, then I have done my job.

The first place we absolutely HAVE to act is with our children. Type II diabetes was once called adult-onset diabetes, but we haven’t been able to do that in years due to the number of children being diagnosed with diabetes. I mean KIDS are having gastric bypass surgery! Just a few years ago, that was supposed to be an extreme last result for excessively, morbidly obese adults. If you think this issue isn’t too deep, just read some of the sentiments of the kids and parents opting for this surgery. They’re broken people- they feel like they have exhausted all options, and this is their last hope that will solve all their problems, but here’s the catch- it won’t unless we address the deeper lying issues! Parks and play-time for kids have been long gone. If you just went around and took a look at a middle (or sadly even an elementary) school, you would see that the overweight and obese children are now actually the overwhelming majority in too many American cities.

This has absolutely nothing to do with vanity. This has to do with the health of millions of children and the overall health of our society. I’m not here to play the blame game and say “This is how we got here”, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t have all the answers. So much of the issue is ingrained in our daily life that this is going to take massive social reform, but something absolutely has to change. We have reached a point in our culture where temporary and immediate gratification, satisfaction, and entertainment have replaced overall health and well-being as priorities in our lives. Instead of living a healthy lifestyle, people just go about their routines, holding on to hope that they don’t end up a statistic, and if the do, “Well, my doctor seems like a really smart guy, so I’ll just have him and his friends fix me.” News flash: why don’t we NOT BREAK DOWN IN THE FIRST PLACE! Here is another piece of disturbing news, and this is the one that I know will bother some people. Most of the information we get on a societal level is WRONG. By the time the information gets to your brain, it has been so washed down, distorted, and stripped of its original scientific merit that it is very easily misconstrued. What’s worse, it’s often pushed by individuals with serious counter-producing incentives. They will flat out LIE to you and distort the truth to separate you from your hard earned money, whether or not what they are selling is actually good for you. I want you to really think about that. The next time you hear anything about a “hot new trend” in the diet or fitness industry, take 5 minutes and see who funded the study.

Once again, this is going to take individualized action on a wholesale level. At Fitness Quest 10, we do our part by training our youth with the mantra that we are educating, motivating and inspiring future pain-free, active, and productive adults. But our reach only goes so far. Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Take action yourself. Organize parents and fight to get physical education back into your kid’s schools. Unplug the TV. Get active yourself! Kids, especially very young children, more often imitate their parents than listen to them. It doesn’t take much- get the whole family together for 1-2 dinners a week and go for a walk afterwards. If we all just sit around and talk about the problem and say “you should do this”, or “[insert government organization] should do that”, nothing will ever change. Again I’m going to stress the societal impact of the problem, so I’ll quote one of the greatest leaders our country ever experienced. It was JFK who famously said “Ask not what your country could do for you, but ask what you could do for your country”. It is time that we rise up. We live in an amazing place that I’m not ready to lose, and there is nothing more powerful than a large number of the population demanding change. Whatever you do, don’t sell yourself short and feel you can’t make a difference. What starts at the town level grows to the city level, then the county, then the district, then the state, and before you know it, our entire country is back on its way to leading the world in a healthy direction!

Ryan is a Strength & Conditioning Coach and the Director of Football development at Fitness Quest 10. He enjoys working with and training people from all walks of life and lives to motivate, educate, and inspire people to work hard, persevere, follow their heart and pursue their dreams. He believes firmly in the quote “Stay far from timid, only make moves when your heart is in it, and live the phrase ‘the sky’s the limit’”. [easy-contact]

Similar Posts