Column: Exercising on a Missouri farm

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Columnist Ceil Abbott

As part of a project I have been working on during the last few weeks, I have been preparing a list of Lake Area businesses. In doing so I was surprised to learn how many places there are in this area that cater to individuals who want to lose weight or just generally improve their health.

Now don’t get me wrong I have no objection to this type of business, I am sure they do an excellent job for those individuals who use their services. However, in preparing the list, I realized that those types of business are something that has come along since I was a child.

Where I grew up there was no such thing as a weight loss business, health spa or even a YMCA. Oh we exercised but our workouts had a lot more to do with our lifestyle than it did with making a conscious effort to lose weight, reduce our fat intake, or purge our bodies of toxins.

We ate what was put before us without even being aware of such things as trans fats and calories. We didn’t worry about purging our systems of toxins because the only preservatives in the food on our table was the salt and sugar mom added when she cooked it. Our vegetables were organically grown in our own gardens. Dairy products, like milk, eggs and cheese, came from animals that fed on grass and grain grown on our own farms. We knew our chickens were as “free ranging” since we were the ones who let them out each morning and closed the henhouse doors each evening. And, those same free-ranging, organically fed animals that provided our produce were also the source of all the meat that mom put on the dinner table.

Sure there were some people in our community who were too heavy, but they were few and far between since it is hard to be overweight while spending all your waking hours hoeing the garden, toting bales of hay and bushels of grain, caring for livestock or plowing, planting and harvesting crops.

Today, almost every time you turn on the news there is some story about the “overweight epidemic” among young Americans, but back then, at least in my neighborhood, there weren’t any fat kids mainly because most of our time was spent working alongside our parents. And, even when we were lucky enough to have some free time it was spent hunting, fishing, swimming, hiking, riding horses or just running around with our friends.

Besides in our tiny school district playing sports wasn’t an option. Belonging to a sports team was part of the curriculum. When we reached seventh grade we were given the option of choosing between the basketball, baseball or softball teams, but when we reached high school because the student body was so small we were often expected to play all three.

Now I’m not saying the way we lived back then was superior to the way people live today for I enjoy modern conveniences as much as anybody else. But, I guess what I am saying is thank heaven for all those businesses that are designed to help us loose weight, clean the toxins from our body and generally care for our physical health, because as with everything in life there is a price we must pay for those conveniences.

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