Recess at my elementary school meant swinging around and around on the monkey bars until you were sick, which I never experienced, because I couldn’t get up enough momentum to swing. It meant standing or running around the inside a large circle painted on the playground with lots of other little kids until that embarrassing moment when someone threw a large rubble India ball at you and didn’t miss. It also meant swinging on the rings, like a monkey, one hand after the other, which I also never mastered because every time I tried it felt like I was going to pull my arms right out of the sockets.
Physical education class included the mortification of waiting my turn to be “up to bat.” I have no words to describe the anxiety. “Three strikes your out.” Boy I’ve heard those words more than I care to admit. “Just bunt it Nannette.” “Just walk Nannette.” Just give me a good game of Caroms, foursquare, or tether-ball. What I’m trying to say here is that I was not a very physically fit, strong, active child.
One fateful day in the middle of the 1960’s I sat in school doing reading, writing, and arithmetic dreading the hour we would be sent out to “play” or have P.E., when the teacher stood and announced that the President of the United States was concerned with the physical fitness of the children of America. He had personally come up with a plan to help us get in shape.
For the next 10 years President Kennedy’s Physical Fitness Tests were the bane of my existence. I never passed. In high school The Presidential Fitness Tests became even more of a frustration. The deal was if you flunked you no longer had the option of taking swimming or folk dancing or volleyball. No, you took Physical Fitness and practiced until you got it right.
Whenever I think of the Presidential Fitness Tests, the one that makes me laugh at the thought is “the standing long jump.” Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? I clearly remember standing at the line. “Bend you knees Nannette. Swing your arms forward then backward a few times and then lung forward from a standing position and jump!” Year after year I stood there thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” There was never anything “long” about my jump. “Just sign me up for remedial PE class for yea, one more year!” Physically speaking, from where I’ve come from it could only have gotten better…and it finally did.
One of the miracles of recovery for me is that thirty-seven years after high school graduation I’m blessed with the greatest physical fitness of my life. God delivered me from 90 pounds. I’m not any kind of Olympian by any means, but hiking, lifting, swimming, a brisk walk, and a little running are activities I welcome today. I’ve hiked up and down a challenging mountain three times now. I’ve run a half marathon and a 10-mile race. I always come in last or nearly, but I run. It truly is a miracle.
I share this in the same spirit that motivated Ammon when he said, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things… (Alma 26:12)”
When I think back on all the things I tried, hoping for some kind of lasting ability to overcome compulsive eating I am reminded of the “standing long jump.” I lined up time after time at the starting line of one exercise or food plan after another. Then I’d put all the energy I could muster into doing the deal. I even seemed to move forward, but nothing long, nothing that long lasting.
Then one day someone introduced me to the thought “that God could and would [help me] if He were sought”(Alcoholics Anonymous, 60). I had no idea He would care about such a thing. My testimony is that He cares about anything that is holding us back physically, spiritually or emotionally. What’s your “standing long jump?” Is there an area in your life where you are standing still and trying to jump long? I invite you to begin to apply the 12 Steps, because when the Lord is involved the “standing long jump” is no longer a contradiction in terms.
By Nannette W.
Posted Monday, February 9, 2009
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