Living in the Washington, D.C., area as my family does, local news is always national news. This September, however, the remarkable coinciding of an earthquake, hurricane and flood within two weeks of the 10th anniversary of 9-11 a week ago have left us in a state of sheer disbelief.
Elsewhere throughout this long summer, with fires and tornadoes destroying homes and lands, one can hardly bear to turn on the news. Last summer it was endless reports of the terrible Gulf Oil spill, a tragedy driven by the greed of the oil companies. As a people, we know that such events have been prophesied for many generations. That they are here, happening now, in living color with lives and properties changed forever are proof that our Heavenly Father’s agenda only moves forward, with the past to left to look back upon as a teacher and a memory.
The day after 9-11, I reported to work as a Weight Watchers leader. Most of us had a very hard time even leaving the TV, so attendance at most events was extremely sparse for many things. Nevertheless, my regulars were there, most wearing red white and blue. I passed out little flags and we all talked about personal freedom and how the only thing we can truly control in this life is what goes in our mouths (food) and what comes out of our mouth (words.) It was a quiet, thoughtful and sober meeting. In fact, everything in the Washington D.C. area was strange for such a long time.
One lovely at-home mom with pre-teens, Kareen Lawson, joined that day. Her reason for joining on that, of all weeks, was astonishing: Her husband had left for his office at the Pentagon on the morning of 9-11, just like always. When a neighbor called telling her to turn on the TV, she realized her life would never be the same. She waited for hours and hours to hear from him. The phone kept ringing as neighbors, family and friends kept calling, but it wasn’t him.
She did her best to control her thoughts, but picturing the future alone with her two children was hard to dispel. What would she do? How would she support them? How would she ever get along? Where would she work? She had not worked since she’d had her first baby! Her training was in pre-school education, but she had gained so much weight with the two children and emotional difficulties, that she felt sure there was no way to go back to work or be hired in her field!
As these thoughts, and many others, added to the trauma of the day, she fielded phone calls and watched TV. At last he called! He was safe! He would be coming home soon! Their reunion later that afternoon was never to be forgotten.
Long after her husband fell asleep that night, she tossed and turned. Her life would never be the same. It was time to face her own monster and defeating enemy — food and overeating: It needed to be addressed not for smaller jeans and appearances, but so that she would never again fear being able to take her place in the world and provide for her family if necessary.
As she mentally pictured the disaster and frantic rescue efforts that had taken place in the Pentagon that day, she knew that she would have had difficulty escaping, running, moving quickly or crawling into small spaces. Her cumbersome size may have impeded someone else’s safety or made her very difficult to assist. And would she have been physically strong enough to help anyone else? These thoughts made it very difficult to sleep that night, and by the next day she had her answer. She simply would become healthy and fit. She would overcome whatever emotional and physical barriers had stopped her before.
Through the following 8-10 months, we got to know her week by week as she lost 60 pounds. Her courage, her ideas, her recipes, her discipline were all a joy to watch. By the time summer and the end of the school year came, she was wearing a size 8-10 and looking fabulous. Throughout this time, she worked as diligently on her emotions and mental well-being as her healthy eating. Devastating events from her youth that had caused the emotional eating badly needed to be addressed. With prayer and help, she was able to forgive those that had harmed her, and discover ways to establish personal peace without food. Exercise became her best friend and relieved much of the stress and sadness that she had been using food to cope with.
By September 12, she was at her goal, and was the pride and joy of our weekly meeting group. She did indeed go back to work as a preschool teacher. Never again will she be at the mercy of an overweight body. Although she has experienced other health challenges, they have been resolved without trouble and she has been grateful that her weight was not a complication.
For Kareen, 9-11 was a turning point for her health. It can be for us as well.
If you are in relative good health and active, ask yourself these questions. (Of course, if you are handicapped, aged or have other health issues outside of your control, these questions do not apply.)
1. At my current weight, am I able to easily and efficiently live a productive life?
2. In the event of a flood, fire, auto accident or disaster, would my weight and body size have an impact on my safety?
3. How is my mobility? Could I run or climb to safety?
4. How is my flexibility? Can I bend, reach, lift and move in a hurry?
5. How is my strength? Would I be strong enough to lift, carry or help anybody else?
6. Would my size slow down the speed or efficiency of the rescue team?
7. Would I have to be left behind or risk someone else’s safety who wanted to stay with me?
8. Could I easily be hoisted to a helicopter, or loaded into an ambulance?
9. Would my weight/size be a challenge in any way for anyone?
10. When the disaster concluded, would I regret not having been in as good condition physically as possible?
In your heart, you know what you must do. Not for just yourself, but for your family and loved ones. There is no turning back the clock. The prophecies will continue to be fulfilled. While I am not one to focus on doom and gloom, there’s no denying that when we’re healthy and fit, not only are we prepared for the worst, but we’re better able to enjoy the fun and the best!
Just ask Kareen. For her, health became a matter of faith, not fear. With that thought, I add a most meaningful hymn to help you sing to yourself as you focus on 9-11, your health and what matters most as we embrace our mortal lives and the journey that is ours.
When Faith Endures
I will not doubt, I will not fear
God’s love and strength are always near
His promised gift helps me to find
An inner strength and peace of mind
I give the Father willingly
My trust, my prayers, humility
His Spriti guides, his love assures
That fear departs when faith endures.
Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area. Her favorite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Learn more about her herbal health tonic and colon cleanse at www.MyMiracleTea.com