Are You Hitting on All Eight?

Let’s talk about that stuff we never talk about or, more realistically, that we “don’t want” to talk about: you. Are you really doing everything you can to take great care of yourself so that when you hit the track for a weekend you know you’re truly in good-enough condition? And even if you have thoroughly convinced yourself that you are, when was the last time you had a physical? Or are you just saying you know more than a doctor? Ask yourself, what good is a fast car if the person behind the wheel isn’t in as-good condition?

A little over a year ago, I was beginning to feel run down from doing simple tasks like walking a flight of stairs or what I considered light yard work, but like most of us, I just wrote it off to a lack of exercise and kept telling myself, “I’ll start running again. That will get me back in shape in no time.” Finally, my doctor became suspicious when I asked her about some vitamin recommendation. In a heartbeat — no pun intended — she had me doing a full physical with blood work and X-rays. The blood test revealed I was anemic, so iron was added to my regimen. However, being the great physician she is, my doctor continued to pursue the cause.

Long story short, the doctors found my stomach had literally slipped up through my chest and had lodged beside my heart, causing internal bleeding. A short time later, I was admitted for stomach surgery to relocate my stomach back to where it belonged. Luckily for me, the Stanford physicians were skilled enough to perform this dangerous surgery via laparoscopy, an operation performed in the abdomen and, in this case, along my esophagus, using small incisions with the aid of a camera, thus minimal recovery and no scars. Afterward, it took no time at all for me to feel an amazing difference. My stamina was better than it had been in years, my endurance was spectacular and I could not believe how much of a difference there was. But the most amazing thing of all was I hadn’t even realized I wasn’t 100 percent to begin with.

The point is, not at all unlike a racecar, if you don’t periodically get things looked over by a professional, there may be things that need attention that could potentially, dare I say, take you out of the race. If you want to improve your racing game and have more fun doing so, it’s important to remember the racecar isn’t the only thing that needs periodic maintenance. Start by simply taking better care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and remember to get some rest as well. Today’s rat race takes more out of us than many realize. Think of it as coming into the pits after a brisk sprint race and allowing the brake rotors to properly cool down. Better yet, just think of it as giving yourself a break.

One more bit of advice from someone who’s been around the track a few times: Learn to truly feel good about yourself and enjoy that pride. It feels good, and that, too, makes for a healthier life. Share your racing stories and experiences that you’ve enjoyed as a NASA member with your friends, family and customers and, while you’re at it, invite them to the track with you. You might be surprised how many are just waiting for such an invite. Who knows, you might just be inviting your next sponsor? So, start off your new year by getting yourself checked out, then worry about the car. The bottom line is, NASA cares about you, and you should, too.

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