Saturday, November 16, 2013

NaNoBloPoMo (Nov 15): What if Rob Ford were a runner?

Ok maybe that title is presumptuous - maybe Rob Ford is a runner, but something tells me...he's not. Just a hunch.

And Rob Fort sitch is getting more than a little overplayed. In fact we try not to talk about it in our household because frankly we would rather focus our conversations on other, more important issues - or at least more positive ones.

But I'll admit - the Rob Ford scandal has been weighing heavily on my mind these last couple of weeks. Part of it, yes, is that it is incredibly sad to see a man have a global meltdown and as one commenter put it - it can either end up with him leaving city hall in a gurney or in handcuffs at this point.

Part of it, as someone who grew up in Toronto, as a Canadian citizen but also as someone who wants to believe in the rightness of our governing systems, is hugely frustrating, embarrassing and angering. Part of me wishes that I could sit down with Mr (not Mayor) Ford and ask him what he's really thinking. Because if he really loves the City of Toronto as much as he says he does, then maybe it's time to let it go. As they say - "If you love someone, let them go. If they come back, then they were always yours to begin with."

And more than anything, I want to believe in a system where a political leader, who has been voted in by the people, is held to the same standards as everyone else. If someone is admitting to illegal behaviour, then I cease to understand how it is that they are not arrested and held to account for the crimes they have admitted to.

But I digress, and this is getting political, which this blog is not about.

But as I was writing my blog post about what would happen if Bridget Jones decided to train for and run a long-distance race, and given that the Ford fiasco has been on my mind this week, I asked myself: "What if Rob Ford were a runner?" And you know what? My hunch is, things might be a whole lot different.

The first, and perhaps most obvious one, is that Mr Ford would probably look a whole lot less like a beach ball in an ill-fitting suit, and his face would be less likely to tend to lean towards shades of red. It's no secret that Mr Ford has now admitted that he is being treated by a team of health professionals, and among all of the other issues they are probably contending with, his blood pressure and weight are probably two concerns.

I know Mr Ford is a busy man, but if he were to get into the practice of heading out for a jog around the block when he felt like things were getting overwhelming, he might not be as likely to lose it or speak off the cuff as he has been. It's no secret that running, or even walking, and getting out of doors are great ways to clear your mind. After a run, you're more likely to feel less stressed and in a positive state of mind. Who needs drugs when you have endorphins?

There's also something intensely gratifying about setting a goal and accomplishing it. Even if it were just to run in the next GoodLife 5k race, Mr Ford would have something to take his mind off the daily grind and to look forward to. And once he crossed that finish, he'd probably feel a massive sense of having accomplished something good - not to mention the satisfaction of being a role model to children and adults throughout the city and beyond.

With running comes another spinoff benefit, which is the fact of being surrounded by a community of other positive individuals with similar goals and healthy lifestyles - somewhat different than perhaps the individuals with whom Mr Ford has been consorting. And what I've found is that when you belong to that positive community, it forms a collective, encouraging and positive network. Long runs become opportunities to talk through issues with friends, and often the greatest insight or clarity is gained while out on one of these runs.

Healthy lifestyles go beyond simply numbers on a scale or trim figures - they're about a positive mindset, goalsetting and communities. And running is one of the best ways that I know to enact a healthy and positive lifestyle.

Now I know - Rob Ford tried getting healthy during the Cut the Waist challenge last year, and did actually say he'd been running around the track and "eating like a rabbit." Just look at him in this photo announcing his Cut the Waist challenge: he looks the happiest he's looked in some time.

Who knows what could have happened if he'd stuck to the plan? He'd have felt better about himself, would have been more positive and energetic, would have inspired children and adults, along with his colleagues, and would have felt like he was part of a healthy, active community and a role model.

One can only wonder how he felt about quitting instead.

And if food seemed to be his issue, as seems to be the case from interviews with him, then running certainly wasn't going to help him feel less hungry, although with the right diet plan he'd manage ok. Evidently, even at that stage, there was more going on beneath the surface than simply wanting to be in shape or not...Even, perhaps, addictive behaviour with respect to food and eating.

As I said, this post is somewhat presumptuous (I'm by no means a doctor or a psychiatrist or even a personal trainer) and in some ways tongue in cheek. Mr Ford obviously has a host of deep-seeded issues that cannot be erased simply by heading for a run around the block. But the point is, if he'd stuck to the healthy regimen he'd committed to last year, perhaps at the very least he'd be better able to deal with some of the issues that have happened of late.



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