Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How is Shawn Syms healthy?

I work as a journalist and advocate to fight against unjust criminalization -- including the criminalization of sex work, drug use and HIV exposure. I believe each of these phenomena is ethically wrong and damaging to the health of the community at large. So when I help to inform and educate about these issues, it has a powerful effect of my spiritual and emotional well-being.

When it comes to the corporeal sphere, it's taken a long time for me to feel comfortable with my body as a larger-than-average guy. And it can sometimes be challenging to sift through all the societal stigma and stereotypes ("fat people are lazy and stupid," etc) to hear when there are valid messages about my physical health that I ought to act upon.

But when my doctor told me my sedentary ways had allowed my blood sugar and blood pressure creep up toward the danger zone, I knew I had to do something. I've never liked exercise much, but I joined a fitness "boot camp" with a friend from work -- we've been going three mornings a week for the past six months. And two weeks ago I decided to add running to the mix, so I've joined a running clinic where we train together 3 times a week and learn about how to avoid injuries. In truth, if I were doing this all by myself, I would probably never stick to it. It's the camaraderie and the rigid scheduling that helps keep me committed.

Since starting all this activity six months ago, I haven't lost any weight. In fact, I've actually gained five pounds! But I feel better than ever, and my doctor says my blood sugar's the best it's been "in years."

I turn 40 next year. I've heard the 40s can be a man's best decade. I can't wait to find out! And then to compare them to my 50s. And so on.

-- Shawn Syms
Toronto, Ontario

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