I’m not a car guy. I appreciate cars, I can change a flat, and a burnt out head or taillamp, but that’s about it. A couple times in my life I’ve had the experience of having the check engine light come on. It’s a bizarre light. It’s amber not red, leading to think that you maybe can push the car a little bit longer, before it gets checked. It doesn’t tell you much about itself, except that if there really is a problem, it’s probably going to cost a lot of money. When you take it into the garage, they link up to your cars’ computer, download a code, and diagnose the problem. It may be serious, it may be minimal or it may be an errant reading, and there’s nothing wrong. But, you don’t know until it’s investigated. Leave it too long and you may start to experience other signs and symptoms as your car starts to sputters, spurt, or otherwise indicate it isn’t well.
Our bodies have an engine light. In fact, it has many. When you get the sniffles, a certain pain, you start to realize that something is wrong. More serious pain, like chest pain, may be indicative of a serious condition such as a myocardial infarction (popularly known as a heart attack), blurry vision might be a stroke, or a migraine headache. Again, some symptoms are more serious than others. Some cause us more immediate alarm than others (or should, anyway).
I’ve struggles with weight more all of my adult life. I was fairly thin up through my teens, because I was reasonably active. When I stopped working out regularly though, my eating habits didn’t change and at my heaviest I weight 292lbs. I’ve tried many times to loose weight and have had great success, but I have always regained the weight; and then some. It wasn’t because I was drinking shakes for every meal, taking pills or doing some other crash diet. It was simply because I lost steam, lost focus, and stopped doing what I knew I needed to do.
I’ve struggled with depression, low confidence and self-esteem, and have undergone years of counselling to help me reverse the terrible trend.
Thankfully, I have made great headway with the mental game, but I recently received a big wake up call. My engine light went off.
It’s easy to ignore the signals your body is sending you, especially when you’re used to feeling like crap. What’s one more ache or pain?
The other night though, my wife informed me that I stopped breathing for about 30 seconds while sleeping. I’ve struggled with REM-related sleep apnea before, but when I quit my job with the city of Toronto, that required rotating shift work, it got measurably better. This likely isn’t the first time this has happened this year. I’ve been sleeping on the couch for two month because our 5 month old son was taking up too much room. After a week of sleep training he is finally back in his crib and I have reclaimed my rightful place beside my Queen.
I’m 36 years old. It’s absolutely unacceptable that I am this sick. Just stupid. I’m too young to be on a CPAP machine. I have a wife and child who depend on me and I have too many friends who have supported and encouraged me for too long to let them down.
I’ve done triathlons and duathlons, so I’m not weak or inept, and I can be focussed. My biggest problem is a lack of focus and commitment. I can start out strong, but often peter out when I hit a bump in the road.
A friend of mine texted me yesterday, to thank me for helping to keep him motivated and inspired to take care of his health. My response, “You’re welcome. Maybe it will rub off on me”. I felt like a fraud. I’m not taking care of myself. I think I am, but I’m not really. Ultimately, it’s not me that will pay the price, it’s my family. My wife will loose her husband and source of income and my son will never know his father.
I’m not ready to die. I don’t mean in a spiritual sense, I’m a committed Christian and I take comfort in the promise of Christ as recorded in Scripture and stewarded by His church. I’m not ready, because I have a family and want it to grow in number and age. I have many things left I want to do, many barriers I want to overcome – both physical and mental.
The engine light is on. It’s time to connect the computers, read the codes, and correct the problem. The solution is easy: eat right and exercise. Implementation, planning and sustainability are what is difficult.
It’s time to get angry. Anger is positive if you can channel it in the right direction. Anger that becomes self-loathing is the opposite of healthy. Anger that fuels you, that keep the inner fire and drive alive every day. Anger that gets you up in the morning to move your body, is positive. Anger that keeps you on the rails towards health, is good.
The engine light is on. Time to get angry. Join me.