An ever-popular Krispy Kreme doughnut bakery opened in my hometown of South Bend, Ind., this week. And I swear, this town has not seen this kind of hoopla since Notre Dame won its last bowl game. Consequently, the locals were long due for some sort of excitement.
During the bakery’s grand opening celebration, radio station vans crowded the parking lot, and the local high school’s marching band even came out to show its spirit in front of the building as if the restaurant was heading to the state championship. Now, if that doesn’t get your adrenaline flowing, I don’t know what would. I’d venture to guess that a very small percentage can claim to have wolfed down a custard-filled pastry to a tuba’s bass line of “Louie, Louie.”
On that day, each customer received a free glazed doughnut, and the very first customer of that day won a box of one dozen doughnuts each week for an entire year and, to add insult to obesity, a free La-Z-Boy recliner.
My pride told me that taking part in such ridiculous commotion over a baked good was against everything I stood for, but my curiosity pulled me into the bakery’s entrance anyway, as I joined the droves of eager doughnut-lovers.
Every sense was bombarded as soon as I walked through those brand-new doors. The glimmering, “Hot Now” mercury light loudly proclaimed that customers would get only the freshest of doughnuts and the warm smell of sugary, greased-to-the-max goodness filled the air. My muscles began to relax, and my mouth-watered as I let myself slowly slip into a honey-glazed nirvana.
However, whatever appetite I had been working up while I waited in line was soon history as I took glances around the room at many of my eating companions. In front of me stood a man in his late-20s whose stomach hung two inches over his belt. To my right, a middle-aged lady struggled to squeeze her large body into a booth as her two rotund children tackled a half-dozen doughnuts as if they were part of an assembly line.
These people, and many more who I observed in the restaurant in similar physical condition, seemed much more concerned about what that snack could do for their taste buds—not what it was doing to the rest of their noticeably unhealthy bodies.
This wasn’t the first time I had taken notice of the remarkable amount of overweight people I came across every day. In the mall, the airport or any other given location, it has not been uncommon to find that the majority of passers-by are considerably heavier than they should be. The way people treat their bodies made me think about how this represents today’s society as a whole.
Our society strives for instant gratification. We want it, we want it now, and we want it because, most of the time, we can have it. In a sense, I think we often tend to treat our bodies much the same way. We take trips to the fridge as soon as we get the slightest bit bored. We have seconds when we’re not even hungry anymore. We think about going out and getting some exercise, but conveniently remember we have taxes to do or furniture to rearrange. We do whatever sounds good for the moment. As time passes, though, we look back and see what we have let ourselves do to our body, and sometimes our negligence can cause some serious damage. And sometimes it’s too late for change.
In October 2003, the Food and Drug Administration reported that almost two-thirds of the United States is overweight, and at least 300,000 deaths each year are associated with heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious chronic diseases that often result from “unhealthy nutritional choices and lack of physical activity.”
Despite these facts, I wonder how many overweight and unhealthy people have a sincere desire to make the lifestyle changes necessary to live healthy. Sure, red and yellow, flabby or tight, we are all precious in His sight, but does that mean God is pleased to see His creation being mistreated and neglected?
I Corinthians 6:19 commands us to honor Him with our bodies. God’s not asking us to look like Ken and Barbie. If He wanted us to look like attractive plastic toys, He could have, but instead, we have each been created of different shapes and sizes. Our job is to take care of what He has given us the best that we can.
It shouldn’t take a health expert to realize that the art of practicing moderation makes perfect sense if we really care about the way we treat our bodies. Obviously, someone doesn’t become overweight or inherit a disease because he enjoys a bowl of ice cream every day after work. It’s when things are done beyond moderation that problems arise. A single bowl of ice cream is fine, but moving in with Ben and Jerry is when things get out of control.
As far as exercise is concerned, try 15 to 20 minutes of jogging, fast pace walking or jumping rope each day, or at least five times a week, and see how much better you feel after a couple weeks. It couldn’t hurt. We waste that much time in the morning picking out what pair of shoes we’re going to wear anyway.
God does not intend for us to just let ourselves go and allow nature to take its course on our bodies for better or for worse. We know that God has called us to treat our bodies in a way that is holy in the way of sexuality and substance abuse. Why would He look at the way we honor the health of our bodies any different?
So the next time you pick up a couple of doughnuts from your local Krispy Kreme outlet, keep one and give the other to the tuba player outside. After that, take a lap or two around the block with him for good measure.