Get Out Of The Road! Change Before The Crisis

Oncoming TruckImaging you’re standing in the middle of the road and an 18-wheeler is coming right at you, and fast! What are you going to do? Easy answer. Get out of the road. Stand safely on the shoulder and watch the truck go by.

Now imagine you’re sedentary and fifty pounds overweight. Can you see the truck of diabetes bearing down on you? Are you standing in the street waiting to be run over by illness? Will you be able to get out of the road? Or will you be roadkill?

Roadkill. An unpleasant topic to be sure, but one with which we are all familiar. Commonly animals don’t make it off the road in time to avoid catastrophe. Encountering a flat opossum on my jogging route last week got me thinking about this and comparing it to our human epidemic of lifestyle diseases. Too often we don’t get out of the road either. What can we learn from the opossum and friends?


The opossum saw the headlights and (imagining opossums think) thought, Uh-oh. Trouble is coming! What to do? I know, I’ll play dead! Maybe it will go away and leave me alone. Wrong answer. Choosing to ignore the likely sequelae of our lifestyles does not lessen the chances of us actually experiencing negative consequences.

The deer sees the headlights and freezes (hence the expression). Also the wrong answer. Most of our lifestyle-induced health issues demand a response. Not responding pretty much guarantees suffering.  On the other hand, the feisty armadillo sees the headlights and responds quickly and decisively – by jumping straight up. Oops, another ineffective response. Doing something is important, but it has to be the right something

SONY DSCSquirrels just freak out. The last thoughts of the squirrel are: I’ll go left! No right! No left is best! Yes! Almost there! Wait, back to the right! Bam. Flat squirrel. We can also have trouble making up our minds. Going left or going right are both good solutions for the squirrel, but its lack of commitment to either one or the other results in disaster. Similarly, there are multiple ways to live a healthy lifestyle, but many people flit from one potential solution to another without the necessary commitment.

Lastly, consider the poor turtle. I feel the worst for him. He knows what to do. He gets moving. But he’s too slow, way too slow. Sometimes we do that too, and there are times when “slow change” might as well be “no change.”

Yet, we need not be like the animals. We have the ability to get out of the road. As you consider your lifestyle and your future health I encourage you to:

  • Choose to see any potential trouble ahead.
  • Decide on an effective response for your unique situation.
  • Commit to your decision.
  • Act. Now.
  • Persist.

You can do it!


Safe out of the road


  1. there is an entire retreat in this material — or at least a two hour educational roundtable sharing within a retreat!!! Great application for us humans.