New Year, New Way

 Watching the news on DEC. 13, I caught the panic piece about American obesity. At last, it’s an official crisis – announced by the Surgeon General and broadcast from the same sort of press room that usually issues sober reports about war, terrorism and global warming.

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There was something strangely surreal about it, and at the same time, very frightening.

So it’s come to this. In a time of great patriotism and national unity, Americans are asking “What can we do to help?” And the answer comes down: “Kindly stop stuffing yourselves and get some exercise.” Alarmed by the price tag of this health crisis (obesity-related diseases apparently cost the country 300,000 lives and $118 billion a year), our elected officials are now calling on businesses and schools to help fight this battle of the bulge.

But even as I watched the inevitable news footage — sidewalks full of big, jiggly-bellied people, faceless people munching burgers and fries — I kept thinking, “This isn’t going to work.” This nation already knows it is fat and out of shape; we know we should be eating better and exercising more. Certainly, companies should encourage their employees to work out on their lunch breaks, and of course we should improve school lunches and get kids out on the playground, but the way I see it, the problem is just plain deeper than that.

I think the real answer hinges on finding a deeper sense of satisfaction and purpose. When we have those things, the rest falls into place: We crave what we really need, and we stay healthy as a result. The problem is that here in the United States, particularly in the past couple generations, living like that has become a sort of lost art. We’ve gotten sidetracked by excess, convenience, vicarious thrills and quick fixes. Obesity, ill health and depression are just symptoms (see “Diagnosis: Affluenza“).

So how do we get our sense of satisfaction and purpose — and our health — back? We can start by relearning the lost art of living well: by making our own thrills instead of being passively entertained; by developing our abilities instead of avoiding challenges; by expanding our horizons; by learning about our bodies, enjoying them and letting their natural health and beauty shine through.

That’s what Life Time Fitness is all about, of course, and it’s also very much where we’re going with Experience Life. Here’s a quick overview of the content areas we’ll be delving into in the coming year and beyond:

1) Health, nutrition, wellness: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight; eating well; supporting and optimizing the body’s natural processes; natural beauty and body care.

2) Athletics, fitness, exercise: Building strength, muscle, flexibility, endurance; developing athletic ability, body confidence and physiological know-how.

3) Quality of life: Expanding and deepening life-wisdom; sparking insight and broadening perspectives; inspiring personal development and achievement; supporting healthy life choices.

4) Adventure destinations, travel, outdoor experiences: Celebrating our health and hard-earned bodies by getting out in exciting locations; seeing and doing extraordinary, exhilarating things.

With each 2002 issue of Experience Life (we’re bimonthly now, so there will be six!) we’ll be striving to bring you all this, plus the news and information you need to make the most of all the other great experiences Life Time Fitness has to offer. We hope to inspire you to design your best body and your best life.

If the flood of positive responses to our reader survey is any indication, it’s a winning editorial mix! We’d like to hear what you think of the new Experience Life. You can visit experiencelife.com and fill out our survey, or drop us a note at experiencelife@experiencelife.com.

Pilar Gerasimo is the founding editor of Experience Life.

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