"In 2008, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty-two states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25%; six of these states (Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia ) had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30%."
Ever since I moved to Colorado in 2006, I have taken note of this annual study that rates each state according to their fitness. Mississippi is always the fattest and Colorado is always the leanest; this instills in me both pride and fear.
While the majority of my family lives in Mississippi, none are fat. However, you see it everywhere in the South. Instead of Starbucks on every block there are Waffle Houses and fried chicken joints.
When Hurricane Katrina destroyed the bridge between Biloxi and Ocean Springs, plans began for a new one. Connie Moran, the forward-thinking mayor of Ocean Springs suggested adding a pedestrian walkway to the new bridge and received the majority reaction: "Why would anyone want to walk over the bridge? No one is going to do that when they can just drive." She pointed out that it would be for exercise purposes and people just blinked, perplexed. (To her credit, the walkway won out and people use it a lot, my family included.)
Meanwhile, I'm living in a place where people regularly discuss the number of Fourteeners they've conquered. (The terms refers to the 51 mountain peaks above 14,000 feet.) I met a guy the other day who actually said to me: "I've only climbed 6 or 7 this summer. I really need to get up to 20." Seriously. I really think people get addicted to the thinness of the air and it makes them kinda loopy. Don't even get me started on the topic of skiing, hiking or mountain biking where the self-competition really goes into overdrive.
Of course, I have been helplessly sucked into the 'fanatically fit' culture of the Centennial State. It often reminds me of New Zealand where TVs are simply handy flat surfaces to set your energy drink on while tying up the laces on your hiking boots. I now find myself running every morning and - and here's the weird part - looking forward to it.
I mean, who is this person I've become????? Ah, well, I've still got a long training road ahead. Go ahead and ask me how many Fourteeners I've climbed .... ? (Hint: It rhymes with that hunky Greek philosopher. Nero.)
Chicken and waffles anyone?