Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Connecting to Better Health

I recently had a business lunch meeting at a local restaurant. I noticed two couples eating at adjacent tables. At one table, a couple sat across from each other and the silence was only broken when they ordered and asked for more napkins. At another table, a couple sat on the same side of the table (a rarity in our culture) and talked throughout the meal. While I am not aware of the circumstances surrounding either meal, the observable difference was in the connection between the individuals. When my wife and I were dating, I would take her to breakfast and I'd buy a newspaper beforehand to read during the meal. Over time, she taught me that it was important to her that we use that time to connect, not isolate and read. To this day, when we go out to dinner as a family, my tendency is to allow the kids to take the video games and for me to manage the chaos until the meal is over. My wife leans toward leaving the video games at home, everyone being present, and sharing about the happenings of our days (and sometimes intentionally allowing some chaos to occur)! The difference is in the opportunity that we're giving our family to connect.

My pastor friend often talks of the life cycle of someone new to church. They'll come, they may like what they find and stay, and they may even check out a program or two. This will last for some time, but the engagement will fade unless there is a deeper connection. To this end, people are encouraged to join a community group or commit to serving in a ministry area. If they find a deeper connection in community, they stay. If they don't connect with others, they eventually move on.

A recent article in the New York Times asked if gyms are passe (New York Times, Catherine Saint Louis, January 26, 2001)? One gym owner said this, "Now everybody is plugged in... now they come to disassociate themselves from everyone... it's killing the health club..." The article goes on the argue that while there is a market for the anti-social approach to fitness, that socializing is still the key to long-term exercise success. Casey Conrad, a fitness industry consultant says, "There's no question that the social element is a huge, huge piece to getting participation. I travel a lot, and when I miss a yoga class [at my gym], they are like, 'Casey, where have you been?" Other industry experts reported that people have to have the opportunity to be challenged while connecting in a meaningful way to others. A personal trainer stated that the environment was important, but ultimately, "It's about connection."

If your exercise resolutions are fading and your commitments to wellness are waning, try connecting for better health. In each community that you are a part of, find a way to connect at a deeper level. Find a gym where you can work out while also connecting to others in am meaningful way. When you go out to eat, make healthy food choices by choosing fresh, nutritionally rich menu options while also making healthy relational choices by leaving the newspaper at home and connecting with the person that you are with.