Photo via The White House"...The challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met." --Barack Obama, January 20th, 2009.
I know not everyone was fortunate enough to be able to interrupt a busy workday in order to catch President Obama's inaugural address. But for those of us who saw it: did anyone else find it moving and inspiring?
Politicians are in the business of stringing pretty words together. They tell us flattering things about ourselves and make far-reaching promises for a bright and noble future. Mostly, I don't pay much attention.
This time felt different.
What? Crabby McSlacker, known for her laziness, skepticism, and whining, felt inspired, moved, and energized by a politician's speech? What's this world coming to?
I have to confess, I heard the inaugural address through a partisan filter. Overcome with euphoria at the long-awaited end of the Bush era, I might have cheered the words of an incoming President SpongeBob SquarePants if that's who we'd voted into office.
But re-reading Obama's speech, I'm pretty sure that at least part of my reaction had to do with his eloquent and stirring call to action, and not just my excitement to see the old administration come to a close.
I Needed A Boost
I spend a fair amount of time on the internet reading about health and fitness. Which sounds wholesome and all, but it's frankly sometimes discouraging. We're an unhealthy nation, yet we obsess about flat stomachs and worship anorexic fashion models and act like a bacon cheeseburger, extra large fries and a 64 ounce soft drink is a normal healthy meal.
But aren't there larger, more important issues than the vanity-inspired quest to fit into our skinniest pair of jeans? Yes, I believe there are. First the Fit Bottomed Girls reminded me with a great MLK-themed post, and then Obama came along and gave me another reason to feel like bigger things were at stake.
His speech was not made to Crabby McSlacker about her little health and fitness blog. But... let's pretend it was, shall we? So here, addressing the direction of Cranky Fitness instead of speaking to a troubled world in dire need of hope and new solutions, is President Barack Obama. (And my goodness is that fun to type! President Barack Obama!)
1. On Finding Common Ground
"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord... We come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas..."
Wait, we're supposed to all get along?
In the health and fitness world, we all have our favorite theories about food and fitness. The Atkins people and the Vegans and Weight Watchers and Cronies and Primal folks and the marathoners and the weight lifters and even the Skinny Bitches all take different approaches. And gosh is it fun to argue about it!
Yet all these different camps share some universal goals: to encourage everyone to have a fit, healthy, strong body and a fulfilling and active life.
So why do we spend so much time emphasizing our differences? The vast majority of folks out there are still eating Twinkies and need our encouragement eating any sort of healthy food and getting any sort of exercise.
I know I spend a lot of time poking fun at people who say things I don't agree with. So in the future, instead of mocking others for taking points of view different from mine, I'll ...
Yeah, so I'm lying. I'm gonna keep right on making fun of things I think are dumb. This is Cranky Fitness after all.
However, I'll try to mention a few more positives! And I'll also remember to poke equal fun at myself too, for all the dumb things I fall for. Thanks, Barack!
2. On Acting Like Adults
"The time has come to set aside childish things..."
So many of our personal health and fitness challenges could be easily met if we did a better job of acting like grownups. I'm incredibly fortunate: I can afford healthy food; I have enough spare time to exercise, and I have a safe, non-violent, non-toxic place to live and work and thrive. Yet all too often I sabotage my own health with childish decisions and poison myself with nasty chemicals just because they taste good!
So many people don't even have healthy options; how can I just waste mine?
There is something about having a smart, serious, self-disciplined adult leading our nation that makes me want to try harder not to conduct myself like a selfish infant. For example, if President Obama isn't too busy leading the free world to work out regularly... um, just what the heck is my excuse???
So sure, Mr. President, I'll set aside those childish things... er, just as soon as I finish this cupcake.
3. On Earning Achievements (Uh Oh).
"In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame."
No short cuts? No preferring leisure over work?
Sorry, Barack, I'm gonna have to think this one over a bit and get back to you. I'm not sure I'm ready to change my name to Crabby McDiligent. In fact, "the pleasures of riches and fame" sound kinda cool. Is there any way I could have some of that without any actual effort on my part?
Sigh. You're right, though. I'll try, I promise, to be a little less Slacky.
Oh, unless you were just talking to the One Rule For a Flat Stomach folks?
You weren't, were you. Darn.
4. On Helping Others
"For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate."
These examples, like the "Dreams" post I mentioned above over at FBG, remind me that so many people are in need. There are families all over the world who are caught in wars, suffer horrible abuse, and don't even have the basics in terms of sanitation, food, and drinking water. And there are plenty closer to home who are suffering as well. Whether it be money, time, or even a kind or encouraging word at just the right moment... there will always be a need for whatever we can spare. There may be scary times ahead before things get better.
So no smartass asides here, Mr. President... this is good stuff.
5. On The Power of Big Plans
"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage."
I tend to focus on the Cranky part of Cranky Fitness--how hard it all seems sometimes to forego the easy road; to do the work necessary and battle the seductive temptations of a self-indulgent lifestyle.
But I often forget to mention, let alone celebrate, the amazing victories ordinary folks have achieved through determination and hard work! And not just for themselves, but for their families and communities.
Words have power to inspire, and with inspiration comes action, and with action comes change.
President Barack Obama, if the power of your words could inspire me, Crabby McSlacker, into wanting to make changes in my own life... then wow, words must be powerful motivators! Perhaps I should remember to use that power for good occasionally and not just snarkiness.
"What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them."
Has it? Did I just feel something quiver? That would be wonderful indeed.
Does anyone else feel hopeful or inspired despite the hard times that loom ahead? What helps you feel more energized and less discouraged?