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No more excuses - Jason A. Smith

I've been thinking a lot, in recent days, about how out of shape I am.

For as long as I can remember, I haven't taken the necessary steps to be in good physical condition.

When I was a kid, I had an excuse for not being terribly active. Because I was born with hydrocephalus -- water on the brain -- my mom largely prevented me from being involved in sports.

The problem was, there were things I could have done which would not have presented any danger of a head injury, such as walking, running or exercising. But, I stayed away from those activities, or engaged in them only once in a while.

This pattern has continued into my adult years. As a result, it has begun to affect other areas of my health as well. I weigh more than I'd like, and my energy level isn't what it should be for a man my age.

I was awakened to my lackluster physical fitness last month, in painful fashion. I was leaving an Atlanta Falcons football game on a Friday night, when I fell in a parking lot. I didn't fall particularly hard, and I didn't break any limbs, so I thought I was fine, aside from feeling clumsy and being embarrassed.

I stood up, dusted myself off and kept walking, with only a slightly scraped elbow as a memento of the occasion.

The next morning was a different story. I woke up, and I couldn't move. My back was killing me, and nothing I did seemed to ease my pain. I felt pathetic because of it.

I gradually felt better throughout the day, but the message of my utter lack of good health came through loud and clear.

Ever since that episode, I've become more conscious of my need to take care of myself physically. Truthfully, I haven't taken any steps toward this, aside from taking vitamins every day, but I know I need to make some changes in my life.

The main reason I need to do this, though, is completely unrelated to the numbers on a weight scale, or the pain I felt in my back after my fall. I want to improve my physical health, so I can keep up with the child my wife and I will welcome into the world in a few months.

I don't expect to magically become proficient at sports or other physical activities in the near future, and I know my hydrocephalus continues to place certain limits on what I can do. But, I no longer want to use my condition as an excuse to be inactive.

I want to be able to enjoy playing with my son or daughter, instead of having to rely on friends or family members to do so. I'll probably still fall now and then, and I might even break a limb or two along the way, because I'm still clumsy, but it would be worth it to be able to have those times with my child.

If I want to have those experiences, I can't continue to live my life the way I've been living it. I could get on a treadmill, walk around my neighborhood or do push-ups on a regular basis.

Whatever I end up doing to take better care of myself, I'm reminded of something my brother once told me which has stayed with me through the years: "If you want to make some changes in your life, you've got to make some changes in your life."

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.