Susan Townsend


It’s easy to measure progress in the physical part of my 1st Place 4 Health program: I look at numbers on a scale, and minutes walked in a week. In the other three areas, though, I don’t always know when growth is happening. Today, I got a chance to look at all 4 components – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – in a single experience.

Late in the afternoon, I went with my daughter and her family to swim. Knowing that I would not get home in time to get in my evening walk, I decided to swim laps for a few minutes. Pausing to rest, I heard a couple of teenagers two laps over (did they really think I couldn’t hear them?) laughing because I had to rest after only two laps.

Here is how I measured my progress in the four components of 1st Place 4 Health:

  1. Mental: I made a decision to exercise. When I heard the jokes being made at my expense, I chose not to be offended or to stop exercising. Instead, I chose to think honestly about the situation.
  2. Emotional: I laughed. Until recently, I would have been embarrassed and hurt over the thoughtless remarks of these children. I realize now that their opinions are completely irrelevant to my life and happiness.
  3. Physical: I was able to swim two laps at a time, and went on to swim laps for a total of twenty minutes, with lots of time-out for rest breaks. What those two young people couldn’t possibly have known is that, about two months ago, I woke up one morning and was in so much pain that I couldn’t turn over in bed. Today was the first time in at least ten years that I have been able to swim one lap without stopping to rest, let alone two!
  4. Spiritual: As I swam, I thanked God for doctors and medication that have helped to get my arthritis under control; for beautiful weather that encourages me to get out and move; for grandchildren who motivate me to appear in public in a bathing suit; and, especially, for the encouragement I get from the 1st Place 4 Health program and my 1st Place group.

I’ve been a participant in First Place 4 Health for almost two years, with an average weight loss of about half a pound a week. Sometimes is seems to be so slow; sometimes I’m not sure I’m making any progress; sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it.

Sometimes God sends a couple of silly kids to the lap pool put it all into perspective.