What is your biggest fear? My friend Meg's biggest fear is falling down at the mall (or anywhere in public). Some people would say their biggest fear is heights, or being alone. Mine is being on a plane that crashes into water. For a long time, that is what it has been. Many years ago, there was a crash in Washington DC into the Potomac - the image of that plane in the water is something I have nightmares about. It has always seemed ridiculous, but that's my fear.
I got a breaking news email the other day and it said that a plane had crashed into the Hudson River. I thought it was a little plane - a cesna - they crash alot. Then I saw it was a real plane, the kind on which I fly and I wanted to throw up. I could hardly watch the coverage or look at the pictures, because it is my worst nightmare.
While I was watching the coverage, I thought of all those people trying to get out. I had many of the same thoughts I had during the 9/11 attacks, knowing that people had to trudge down all those flights of stairs in the towers. I thought about myself - am I healthy enough to save myself during a catostrophic event? If I had to walk down 85 flights of stairs to save myself, could I? Could my body handle standing on the wing of a plane in 50 degree water?
I work hard to live a healthy lifestyle. It isn't always about fitting into the clothes I want to wear or feeling good when I look in the mirror. It is about being healthy enough to manage the stress of every day life and possibly the stress of the unthinkable. I remember hearing stories after 9/11 of people having a really hard time getting down those stairs, having respiratory distress, heart problems, etc. Others were heroes because they helped. Others had to put their lives in jeopardy because someone else didn't take care of their health.
Think about being on a plane - the person sitting next to you is 150 pounds overweight, or is a smoker and has breathing problems. Now, your plane has crashed into the water and the flight attendant tells you that you have 2 minutes to get out before the plane fills with water. How easy will it be for that overweight person, or the person who can't breathe, to quickly move to the exit? Will the life vest fit the overweight person? What will their weight do to the life raft. How will the emergency personnel get that person from the life raft to the rescue boat? Either you are the overweight/unhealthy person who's life is more at risk during this event OR you are the person who is healthy and fit and must put yourself at risk to help the other. Neither is a good position.
Then I started to think about the odds of being in a plane crash. Not very high. When you don't take care of your body and your health, every day can be a plane crash situation for you. You are much more likely to die from heart disease, cancer or diabetes than in a plane crash. Every day events can be challening and life threating. For people who are eating a high fat, high processed foods diet, just living is life threating! Your heart feels like the healthy, fit person who is risking their life to help the overweight, unhealthy person. Your heart has to work harder to supply blood to an overweight body or pump blood through narrowing arteries.
Its not about looking good - its about surviving as long as you can, regardless of the stressors in your life, whether they be physical or mental.
Could you survive a plane crash...or are you just having a hard time surviving day to day?