Columnists Mark my words

Column: Are we fit? We are not even close

by Father Mark Goldasich

You know, there’s no shortage of ways to humiliate me. 

The latest comes courtesy of my Nintendo Wii video game unit. In a weak moment, I ordered what’s called “Wii Fit.” Billed as “Fitness Made Fun,” this product is designed to motivate couch potatoes to seek better health and fitness.

“Wii Fit” consists of a white balance board, some 18 inches long and 10 inches wide. You stand on the board according to instructions on your TV screen and all sorts of amazing things happen.

Oh yes, there’s also a scale embedded in the balance board. (The instructions don’t tell you about that until it’s too late!) At first, I was shocked to see my weight displayed on the TV screen, but was relieved that a message didn’t pop up at the same time saying, “One at a time, please!”

“Wii Fit” even calculates your BMI (body mass index) and Wii Fit Age. I gasped when my “Wii age” appeared. Based on my initial Wii body test, I should already be drawing Social Security.

Although that was a sobering revelation, it came as no real surprise. As a matter of fact, it was precisely because I wasn’t getting much exercise that I bought this product in the first place. Now, through some rather grueling “Wii” Fit activities — such as strength training, yoga, aerobics and balance games — I hope to get my “Wii age” in line with my chronological one. 

My goal is to shape up this summer. 

The Leaven, too, is now on its summer schedule, with a paper coming out every other Friday until Sept. 12. This is both practical (there’s not as much going on in parishes at this time of year) and therapeutic. 

Basically, it gives our staff here a chance to take a vacation and refresh ourselves. But it’s also a time to get into shape: to do some learning, to keep sharp and up-to-date.

For example, there are plans this summer to delve deeper into how the Leaven’s Web site can continue to improve and be a valuable complement to the print edition. We’re plowing through books and Web tutorials to learn more about the computer programs that we use and milk them for all they’re worth. We’re also investigating new technology and reviewing other successful publications to see how we can use their ideas to improve our paper.

On a personal note, I use the summer to hunt for good column ideas and for ways to improve my writing. Honestly, though, I don’t have to look too far to see fine writers at work. After all, I’m surrounded by them. I hope that you’ll check out the article on page 10 about the Catholic Press Association journalism awards that The Leaven brought home from Toronto this year. 

Winners included our word workhorse Joe Bollig, our “cub reporter” Kara Hansen, and our faithful freelancer Jill Ragar Esfeld. Each has a unique work and writing style that I continue to learn from.

Joe, like me, spends lots of time talking about what he’s going to write. Hearing ourselves jabber seems to inspire us (eventually) to actually sit down and write. Unlike me, however, Joe can pump out a multitude of quality stuff, especially memorable openings, at a moment’s notice.

Kara is the quiet, diligent worker. Her gentle manner puts interviewees at ease and helps them share not only their thoughts with her, but their lives as well. Kara’s writing captures feelings as well as facts.

Jill is not only a talented writer, she’s also constantly searching for interesting stories and angles, based on what she’s seen or heard. And, somehow, she even gets her stuff to The Leaven in a timely fashion.

Just as “Wii Fit” will (hopefully) whip my “aged” body into better shape, I trust that my reading this summer of the experts — both near and far — will shape up my writing.

By the way, after turning in this article, I’ll be stepping up on the Wii balance board. Today’s task is to twirl an imaginary hula hoop for several minutes. Thank heavens those gyrations — unlike my writing — remain private!

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Fr. Mark Goldasich

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