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Suitable for ages 13+.
The following is a work of fiction. All names, characters, incidents, and places are either the product of the authors' imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, business enterprises, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Ever been stuck in a situation which you know will not get better unless you do something? Unfortunately not only are you too down in the dumps to even try, but you are at a loss to even know where to begin. Then one day, you meet someone who takes the time to listen and shares something with you, which will set you on a different course.
The following is a conversation between a teacher and a student, one which will change the student’s life forever, giving him the hope he desperately needs and wants to begin his quest.
It was still early March, but a mild sunny day in Manhattan when a young man proceeds to sit down on a park bench, feeling anything but good about himself. His head was hunkered low, facing the ground. As a teacher was walking by, he noticed the young man.
Teacher: “Hey! What has gotten you down on such a lovely day?” There is a brief pause. “May I sit down?”
Teacher: Instinctively sensing something wasn’t quite right, he tries to get the student to open up. “Is everything okay?” There’s no response so he tries again. “Is something wrong?”
Student::“Oh just everything.”
Teacher: “Care to talk about it? I’m a good listener.”
Student: The young man sighs a couple of times. “I’m thirteen years old, and I weigh over 270 pounds, and I’m the butt of every joke at school. To top it off, I just found out I have Type 2 Diabetes. Life sucks.”
Teacher: “It seems things are kind of rough for you. What do you plan to do?”
Student::“What can I do, but grin and bear it!”
Teacher::“You know life is all about choices.”
Student::“It’s too late for me. I already have diabetes, and God only knows what’s next.”
Teacher::“So are you ready to give up, or would you rather put your foot down and do something about it?”
Student::“There’s no hope. The last few years the only thing I’ve done is put on pounds, year after year. Not only do I get ridiculed, but people crack jokes about me, people already have their minds made up about me, so why bother changing.”
Teacher::“Change is probably one of the hardest lessons in life—I know firsthand—I myself used to be well overweight when I was young.”
Student: With a look of dismay, “Come on—you’re putting me on mister.”
Teacher: "No, actually it’s true. It was one of the worst times of my life. I didn’t socialize. For that matter I didn’t even go out.” He shrugged. I felt like an outsider most of the time.”
Student: “Well, what did you do run the million mile marathon?”
Teacher: Teacher chuckles, “A sense of humor can go a long way in life.” The student chuckles as well. “I can help you if you like?"
Student: Baffled and at wits end. “Why would you want to help me—you don’t know me, or anything about me?”
Teacher: “I like helping people. I find it quite rewarding—to be honest nothing is as rewarding for me.” He sighed and momentarily a despondent look washed over him. “You see I lost my entire family in a horrific car accident. I see life differently than most people. It was the hardest thing for me, but I realized that sometimes no matter how difficult, you just have to accept life in order to move on.”
Student: “I’m sorry mister—I guess I shouldn’t have drawn a conclusion so hastily.”
Teacher: “That’s okay. Please call me Steven.”
Student: “I’m Lionel.”
Teacher: “You have to take that first important step.”
Student: “I’ll have to do a lot more than that.”
Teacher: “You have a keen sense of humor which will take you far in life.”…student also laughs. “In order to make changes you have to draw a blueprint of your current situation.”
Student: “Sounds awfully complicated, I’m only thirteen—you know!”
Teacher: “Actually it’s not as difficult as it may seem. Part of change is being aware of what you do on a daily basis—in terms of eating, exercise and other activities.”
Student: “Come to think of it, I don’t do much exercise; actually come to think of it my nickname is Couch Potato.”
Teacher: “Do enjoy playing any sports, or other outdoor activities?”
Student: “I mostly play video games during my spare time, that’s when I don’t have my nose in the books.”
Teacher: “Do you enjoy school?”
Student: “It’s okay—it’s kind of boring sometimes.”
Teacher: “You seem discouraged, but if you like I can give you suggestions on how to turn things around?”
Student: Feeling bewildered and sensing things were beyond repair, “There’s no hope. I gain weight every year. The only new thing every year is a larger pant size.”
Teacher: “I felt the same way when I was in virtually the exact same predicament.” He sighed, “I felt a sense of despair, almost like the world was caving in on me.”
Student: “What happened did the fairy godmother grant you your wish?”
Teacher: He chuckles, “No unfortunately it wasn’t that easy.” Steven sighs.
Student: “So what did you do?”
Teacher: He grins: “No I came to terms with my situation. I did a lot of soul searching. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Student: “So what happened?”
Teacher: “I finally put my foot down… and told myself that if I wanted to see change, I was going to have to make serious changes in my life. Change is not an easy thing. Damn!” He pauses. “It’s hard and takes a lot of perseverance. Excuse my language.”
Student: “It’s okay—so what did you do?”
Teacher: “I thought long and hard, knowing if I was going to achieve my goal I would have to follow a strict regimen. So I made a list of everything that I was presently doing and a list of things that I would have to do to make things right.”
Student: “Wow—that must have been some list. Do you still have a copy by any chance?”
Teacher: “Unfortunately not, but I can help you out, it’s your choice?”
Student: There’s a moment of silence. Hesitating and lacking any real self-confidence Lionel considers this proposition. He finally decides to take the plunge. “Sure.”
Teacher: “Congratulations!” He pats Lionel on the shoulder as a morale booster. “You’ve taken that very first important step.”
Student: “What do you mean? I haven’t done anything,” Lionel shrugs.
Teacher: “But you’ve decided that you want to make a change, and that’s just as important as getting results.”
Student: “Cool, so what’s next?”
Teacher: “Well for one thing, I found before I could lose weight I would have to stop putting on weight. So I made a chart. On this chart I jotted down my weight. I would weigh myself each morning and each evening. I wrote a list of all the things I ate every day, along with the quantity. I also included which exercises I did and the length of time for each exercise.”
Student: “So it was it like a balancing act. You were trying to create equilibrium.”
Teacher: “Exactly—it took me weeks to plateau. I maxed out at 290 pounds. I decided to lose weight gradually so that I wouldn’t quit. I then set goals for myself. I began exercising three times a week for an half an hour, and this included anything from walking to biking. My motto was as long as I was movin’ I was grovin’.”
Student: “You know mister you’re pretty cool—there aren’t too many people like you anymore. So what else did you do—tell me more?”
Teacher: “Thanks—I appreciate it. Well my self-esteem rose several notches. I then realized that given a reasonable amount of time and effort I would achieve my goal. My goal had been to lose one hundred and twenty pounds. I knew that if I tried to lose too much at once, it would stress me out and I would probably give up. So instead I opted to increase my exercise activity a couple of minutes each month, that way my body and mind would adjust gradually. I knew the importance of routine, so I set specific times during the day to exercise. It would reduce the chances of me forgetting or getting sidetracked. The next step was to change my diet. For me it was probably the hardest. I loved my sodas too much to go cold turkey!” Student chuckles. “Instead, I took a more gradual approach. I replaced a soda or a glass of juice for a glass of water, since water contains no sugar and no calories. I did the same thing with the junk food I was eating. Instead of munching on junk food all the time, I would substitute one junk food item for something more nutritious such as an apple. An apple not only has vitamin c, it also has fiber and aids in digestion. Simultaneously, I began measuring my food intake, and once I had it established, I then reduced my food intake by 5%. After the third month, a month after I plateaued, I had lost a total of ten pounds. But the best part of it all was I did not feel I was sacrificing anything, since I had done it fairly gradually.”
Student: “Wow, that doesn’t sound too difficult.”
Teacher: “No it wasn’t. It all came down to math and science. You know the more I changed my diet and lost weight, my entire outlook on life changed. By the end of the first year of implementing this program, I lost sixty pounds. I was already half way there. Because I was more physically fit and toned, I began working at the gym more regularly. I was doing a lot of cardio activity. I felt so much better about myself that I actually joined the football team. Instead of being ridiculed, I became known as the guy who could throw ball. Gee—even girls were paying more attention to me.”
Student: “Do you suppose I could do all that?”
Teacher: “Of course, you’re already 20 pounds ahead or behind me, depending on which way you look at it.”
Student: Student chuckles: “Do you have any other tips mister?”
Teacher: “Information is the key. If you want to be healthy, eat healthy. There are many advantages of eating a well-balanced diet high in fiber, whole grains, fish, and eating a large selection of different fruits and vegetables. To ensure that I ate a variety of fruits and vegetables, I bought these special drinks. The fruit drink contained blueberries, blackberries, bananas and apples etc., no added sugar. The vegetable drink contained eight different vegetables along with some fruit. That’s not to stay that I stopped eating fruits and vegetables. Each fruit and vegetable has particular vitamins and minerals so it is good to eat a variety. Each day, I drank a half a glass of each, but still ate some fresh fruits and vegetables. I heeded a diet low in sugar and sodium, also drinking plenty of water is essential. If possible, drink filtered water such as reverse osmosis. Anyway I don’t want to inundate you with too much info at once, but do this and before you know it, your diabetes will be under control.”
Teacher: “Yes it is actually true. By changing your diet and losing weight you can also avoid other health complications such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, heart attacks, etc. A majority of health concerns stem from our eating habits.”
Student: “Gee thanks. If I get stuck or run into problems can I come and see you.”
Teacher: “How about if we meet here every other Friday and you can tell me how you’re progressing. If it’s raining or there’s inclement weather, I’ll meet you at the recreation center directly behind us. We’ll meet in the front entrance.”
Student: “Wow! Thanks.”
Teacher: “So Lionel—don’t forget we’ll meet on the third Friday this month.”
Student: “I won’t Steven. Bye.”
Teacher: “Until then Lionel.”