Patchology: REI and National Parks

Over the years I have managed to make it to Channel Islands, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, and Yosemite, along with a small handful of National Monuments, National Historical Sites, and National Historical Parks. In short, I have seen only a tiny fraction of this great legacy, so I am artfully weaving the units of the National Park System into my upcoming travels.

And for the record, there will be no “27 parks in 54 days” for me, thanks: I am planning on taking it slow. These parks were not created to be seen as much as to be experienced. The point is to go to one of these places, grok it in full, and make it a part of who you are. 

I’ll wear this patch on my civilian Jac-Shirt, a promise to myself to keep true to this spirit.                                               

Patchology: The First Goal on The Journey

I suppose that the prospect of a healthy life should be adequate incentive for the obese to get off their butts and change their lifestyles. As a former member of that crowd, I can attest that experience and statistics suggest otherwise. Sometimes you need a big incentive to get you off of a couch. And sometimes you just need a 4″ x 4″ strip of embroidered cloth.

Offering any reasonable incentive to entice people out of McDonald’s and off the couch is not only a good investment in public health, it also begins a virtuous cycle. Getting people addicted to earned achievement instead of instant gratification is a very different kettle of fish than rewarding mediocrity, especially if you build a program that rewards higher and higher levels of participation and achievement.

When I first started to work toward this patch, I weighed somewhere north of 360 lbs., which even on my 2m high frame made me obese. Given that for a long time I refused to step on a scale, I may well have been “morbidly obese.” Today I weigh 216 lbs., have a BMI of 24, and am healthier at 57 than I was at 35 in good part due to the President’s Challenge, of which the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, or PALA, was a part. The act of exercising regularly, recording the foods you eat, and gradually replacing less healthy foods with healthier choices is a powerful start, and was my ladder to a place that I always felt – and, indeed, was often told by professionals who should have known better – was beyond me.

I earned the award four times in the five years, and subsequently used it as a stepping stone to higher achievements. But I can honestly say that this program probably saved my life and my marriage.

It is one of my proudest achievements, and I will wear this patch on my BSA Jac-shirt with pride.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑