Monday, July 13, 2009

Colorado: Home of the Seriously Fit

I realize this is old news but I'm just now getting around to processing. Whilst doing some research on an article, I came across this alarming map on the CDC website. Maybe it was the color choice but it kind of blew my mind.

"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?


hotdrwife said...

I have lived in Colorado my entire life and have only done one Fourteener (Long's Peak). It was not by choice. It was beautiful, I can say I did it once (with some really shitty shoes on, too).

cj said...

i don't set out to "do fourteeners" but i do enjoy hiking. my lifetime list is: mt elbert, umcompahgre peak, grays peak, torreys peak, mt evans, mt shavano, mt yake, pikes peak, mt bierstadt, mt of the holy cross. to me, it's more about being outside somewhere beautiful than it is about conquering nature or whatever it is the competition is.

ClizBiz said...

Excellent point, CJ. You're totally right - it's more about appreciating the natural beauty of the state and less about your BMI.

hotdrwife said...

I should add the only reason we did a 14'er was because we had too much to drink (ah, early 20s!) and thought we could just set out and start hiking to see the sun come up.

It's one of my favorite stories - and favorite memories of my friend, Eljefe (ie: My Fang).

I won't do it again though. Hell to the no. I was so happy to see my car when that day was over!!

Susie said...

When my friend Cindy moved to Aspen she started to go on "dates" that involved climbing Ajax in snow shoes on a full moon.

Luckily that sounded like a good time to her and she's now married to a mountain man.

During the years that I spent a lot of time there I was always wary of going on "hikes" with my friends because it often felt like the Bataan death march in high altitude with no oxygen.

I was grateful for the massive beauty of the state because often I would be left behind lying on the side of the trail, waiting to be picked up on the way down.

You rock Heather - to acclimate as you have. I know your mountain man is out there.

ClizBiz said...

HDW: Regardless of how your mission started, you finished - did you not? I'm just glad you made it back safely.

Susie: Yes, most dates around here involve going up hill and great amounts of gear. It's quite the opposite of dating in San Francisco where a guy once told me I was too intimidating because I drove a truck.

Heidi's heart said...

Hooray for Colorado! And yet, 20 percent is still a lot. I mean, that's one out of five have a body mass index of 30 or above. That's still a lot!