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Key Indicators for a Healthy Future
By Carolyn Allen

Springtime, as the tulips and dogwoods reach their peak in Northern Virginia, marks the anniversary of an adventure our neighborhood had with the County Water Authority. One beautiful afternoon a big county truck and several workers arrived on our small cul-de-sac. What on earth was going on? As the neighbors drifted out to inquire, the story emerged from my neighbors who live directly across the street.

At 4:00 a.m. that morning, a family member’s trip to the bathroom had revealed that there was no water running in the house. Lucky for them, their grown son who was living with them at the time is a professional plumber. They woke him up and his quick response was to immediately call the County Water Authority emergency line. “When there’s no water running in the house, it means there’s a pipe broken somewhere in the water line and uncontrolled water is flowing underground. The main valve needs to be turned off immediately until the problem is found and repaired,” he said.

A bleary-eyed and very sleepy water authority worker had arrived at their home shortly after 5:00 a.m. and turned off the next door neighbor’s water by mistake. This family was out of town and weren’t home to identify a problem.

Over the next 3-4 hours my plumber-neighbor continued to call the Water Authority to say that they knew there was a mistake, their own water flow was still not functioning normally and that they could actually hear water running …. somewhere . In a series of not very nice conversations it all boiled down to the county saying “We know what we’re doing and don’t mess with us! If you’ve got water for household use, then you’re OK and we’ll be out when we can.”

They arrived mid-afternoon, dug up a section of the front yard, supposedly repaired the problem and left. Strangely, however, within several hours after their departure, a section of the yard started sinking.

The next 24 hours were very eventful. By early the next afternoon, not only was that area of their yard sinking by the hour, the paved road between our houses had developed a sinking area that was 6 feet in diameter. Within the next 2-3 hours, it was three-feet deep and the asphalt had broken and dropped through. Since it’s a small cul-de-sac, the road is only wide enough for parked cars and one lane of traffic. With the hole it was very difficult (and by early evening almost impossible) for cars to safely pass either side of the hole. Needless to say, we were all getting a little upset!

At 8:00 p.m., the County Water Authority, with egg on their faces and a big apology, sent a team in two big trucks to fix the street. They worked until midnight with their earth mover/scooper, jackhammers, two huge construction lights, more trucks coming and going, etc. Mmm hmmm. It was a long night for the whole neighborhood.

By Wednesday morning, although the street seemed fixed, the spot in the neighbor’s yard had sunk even deeper. Over the next several days the repaired road also started to sink slightly again and we all agreed that surely the County had fired the worker who insisted he’d turned off the right water valve.

Although numerous calls were made, nothing happened and the sinking seemed to have stopped. On Sunday, nearly a week later, as we drove up to the house after Church, our daughter announced “Look everybody! Our front yard is sinking like the neighbor’s!” Sure enough, right by my pretty little garden where the lilacs had just started to bloom was an 8-foot area that had sunk well below the sidewalk level. The County arrived within the hour to apologize, put a patch on the problem for the day and make promises.

That Tuesday a new team of workers and equipment arrived to completely strip the road between the two houses. They excavated with earth moving equipment to find and fix the problem that was considerably more extensive than they had thought. Next they brought in load after load of gravel to pack and build the surface. It took a full day and a complete team of workers to reconstruct the water lines and the road.

Did I mention that sections of the sidewalk in front of both homes were completely torn up as well as they fixed the problem?

The next several months were wet and rainy. It took several months for the landscapers and the sidewalk-cement department to get back out and finish the job. I can’t imagine the tax-payer’s final bill on a job like this.

If you’re still with me, there is a parable here for us. Like the county office who didn’t want to hear that there was still a problem, we, too, ignore obvious key indicators that by voluntarily accepting and establishing an unhealthy weight, our health is being severely compromised. We think we can go on forever with a situation that doesn’t really show, like the water flowing underground, with a body that seems healthy as long as it is moving and functioning. Then when the true problems manifest themselves, extreme measures are called for that may, or may not, succeed.

Each of us has a dear family or ward member who choose to ignore these key indicators. Perhaps this dear one has tried and failed so many times that they’ve given up. Perhaps that person is even us. Perhaps we’ve lost the weight a time or two, but it’s back on again and the courage to face it again is more than we can muster. No finger-pointing. We’ve all been there!

For our family, it was a dear Bishop’s wife. For years this Mrs. Santa Claus twin showered one and all with perpetual cheer and fattening goodies, which she clearly indulged in herself. With nary a thought to her own weight (or so it seemed) she merrily proclaimed “Oh, I’ll just go when it’s my time to go! The good Lord will know when I’m done and I’m not going to worry about it.” When her husband developed some serious health issues, she changed her cooking and meals for him, but not for herself, and chose not to exercise with him. As her weight and age increased, her mobility and health decreased. At 74 she had a serious stroke. It was not enough to kill her, but enough to paralyze her and require round-the-clock care for a number of months. Eventually she passed away, leaving a very lonely, very healthy husband who lived for another 5 or 6 years.

We are currently watching a beloved and beautiful member of our ward in her early 60’s hover between life and death with a similar situation. Her husband tenderly cares for her as nurses, family and ward members come and go. It’s cancer this time, instead of a stroke. As the months go by, it’s hard not to say “What if …”

As in, what if the key indicators had been successfully addressed early? Would this tragic health situation exist today? Like our neighbors, the key indicator was the sinking yard and the impeded water flow, no matter what the county office had to say about things!

Our missionaries have key indicators to help them manage their time and build success.

based on lessons taught, contacts made, etc. Though this is a quantitative measure and not appropriate for all missions where the gospel is taught through service rather than proselytizing, it keeps things moving and is a great start to quality missionary work.

What about us? While there is surely a range of key indicators, here are some starters that you might want to customize:

1) A particular pair of slacks or a piece of clothing that, when fitting comfortably, indicates a healthy weight . Such an item is a very good key indicator indeed!

2) Dump “All or nothing” thinking : Go back and read terrific article on Meridian from 4-22-09: ddiction Recovery Begins When We Let Go of Perfectionism by Colleen Harrison. When a doughnut for breakfast means “the day is lost, so why bother ” is the beginning of a day/week/month of eating everything in sight, the key indicator that things are amiss! An “Oh, well, that was silly. But God allows U-turns, so I do too! I’ll exercise a little more and eat a little less today!” is the attitude, then acted upon is a key indicator that you’re are on target.

3) The 10% rule: Eating healthy food that builds your body 90% of the time and “recreational” eating for the other 10%. Food is simply food! It is not God, a doctor, nor Broadway or television meant to comfort, fix problems or entertain us for hours on end. Eating food for fuel/nutrition 90% of the time for 90% of your caloric intakes leaves 10% for “other” eating/calories that will not cause serious harm to our health or weight loss plan. Consider making sure that 10% is enjoyed in the company of others and you’ll save yourself a lot of sorrow!

4) More fruit and vegetables than anything else, with as little processing as possible.

5) Exercise 4-6 times a week, getting your heart rate up for 20-30 minutes . Who cares what type of exercise as long as you enjoy it and/or feel great when you’re done. A good rule of thumb that makes it easy: If you’re able to carry on a conversation, but not sing, you’ve got the intensity about right.

A stitch in time may save nine, but for us – a health stitch in time may extend our future, and generously magnify the peace, strength and happiness of today.

Author’s note: (I hope you’ll take a moment and take a look at my new listing at Click on “Business Opportunities” then scroll down to see my listing as “TLC” This wonderful caffeine free, 100% natural herb tea is the perfect “spring cleaning” for your body and has been very helpful for weight loss and hay fever for many Meridian readers. It is also available as a retail product from the Meridian Market Place in the health/wellness section, listed as MyMiracleTea.)


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