New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently divulged he underwent gastric banding surgery in a quest to overcome his struggle with obesity. Christie stated the weight-loss procedure was “for my long-term health,” not an effort to enhance his political future. (He has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the Presidency in 2016.)
“This is about (his wife) Mary Pat and the kids and me and not anybody else,” Christie insisted.
This surgery involves a band being placed around the top of the stomach to limit the amount of food an individual can ingest. Prior to deciding on the procedure, he consulted with medical experts and with Rex Ryan, head coach of the NFL New York Jets who had the same operation in 2010.
Some pundits speculated the governor’s motivations were fueled by political ambition, reasoning his excessive weight could diminish his appeal as a Presidential candidate. Even if aspirations for higher public office were part of his rationale, I applaud his decision. And, intended or not, I suspect it will bolster Christie’s political future.
I understand the strong pushback against “thin is in” biases. Whether it’s slender models or svelte hunks, not everyone has the genetic makeup or physical build to fit those images. At the same time, ample scientific and medical research shows, like smoking and excessive drinking, obesity can – and often does – have severe consequences for health and longevity.
In his insightful book, The South Beach Heart Program, noted cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston writes about, “an important medical condition so obvious I can diagnose it without performing a single diagnostic test. I can spot it the instant a patient walks into my office…. (a) colleague says that when a patient’s belly is the first body part to enter his office, the diagnosis is made.”
Several members of my family have struggled with weight issues and its ramifications for their health. My mother died in her early 50’s of heart disease and diabetes. I’ve undergone open-heart surgery myself. So this issue is a personal one.
This isn’t to suggest every overweight person should undergo weight-loss surgery. It’s not a guaranteed “fix,” especially if other necessary lifestyle changes aren’t undertaken as well. Healthy eating and exercise often are all that’s needed. But whatever it takes, the adage holds true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
So will Christie improve his Presidential chances if his weight loss initiative succeeds? Possibly, but it won’t be because he “looks better.” Rather, it will be because he seems more physically capable of coping with the rigors of the office.
Anyone that’s observed Presidents throughout their terms can see the toll the weight of the Oval Office takes on them. In voting for a candidate, I want to feel confident the person is up to the task physically as well as philosophically.
But there’s a spiritual dimension to this as well. Churches often talk about “stewardship,” but it’s typically defined in monetary terms. In reality, we might differ in our financial and material resources, but we all are limited to 24 hours in a day and we each have only one body.
Proper stewardship, in God’s view, involves wise use of our time and our “temples,” as it’s described in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Interesting concept – referring to our bodies as God’s temple. Nowhere do the Scriptures instruct us to build “bigger temples.” We know humankind’s mortality rate is 100 percent, but rather than being fatalistic we should recognize our responsibility as stewards of the physical bodies God has entrusted us with, living in and using them for His glory.
As Psalm 139:14 reminds us, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” As such, we should be faithful to honor our Maker by attending to our bodies. Just as a car is difficult to drive after it’s been wrecked, it’s hard to effectively perform the work God has for us if we’ve misused and abused this “earthly tent” He has given us (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Weight control can be difficult. Countless men, women and children can attest to that. But it's a challenge well worth undertaking. For our sake, for our loved ones' sake – and for God's sake.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.)