Caldwell Man Motivates Good Health And Respect In Others
By Anastasia Marchese
Most have heard about the current obesity epidemic in the United States, with recent studies showing that there are now more obese people living in America, than overweight people. While being overweight isn’t recommended, being obese can be deadly. When most hear these warnings, they wonder or worry about their own health, but some people are reaching out to make a difference in the health of others.
Mark Aslam is one of those people. He may be in his 70’s but Aslam is choosing to flourish instead of fade away as he ages. As a staff member at the Caldwell Community Center, he works to help motivate people to be consistent about healthy eating and fitness. The Community Center is a great resource for all ages, but Aslam has a special heart for other seniors.
Aslam started working there about seven years ago after experiencing the life changing benefits of exercise and healthy eating in his own life. He was overweight and his health was suffering from lack of exercise. Then he started changing his diet and working out at the community center. After seeing Aslam’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle and the joy he had in sharing it with others, the staff offered him a part time job working at the community center himself. He is so thankful and appreciative for the support and help of his superiors as well as for having the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
His philosophy is holistic with benefits for not only the body but the heart and mind as well.
People need to know “how important exercise is to begin with, and then healthy food,” he says. “That brings out a happy and a healthy mind. I love human beings. I was not that way before. If I can do it, everybody can do it. Train your brain not to think about the tiredness. You become the master when you train your brain. Don’t be a slave to your brain. We are all slaves to something, to our own certain weaknesses. But we can change that by a commitment to ourselves, not to anyone else. Self-promise and consistency can change anyone’s life.”
He says, “When you become healthy, you become happy, then you make other people happy. It has enormous benefits for everybody.”
Aslam’s passion for health is connected to his love for his fellow man. He sees many people living isolated lives and being lonely and unhealthy as a result. Seniors seem to be especially susceptible to living in isolation. Many seniors live alone, spend a lot of time sitting and watching television. Overeating is a natural response to loneliness and boredom, but it has disastrous health effects.
Many times Aslam has seen people at the center working out side by side for years, yet never speaking to one another. Never even a hello.
“Even if we are busy, we can get out of the house and help others,” he says. “We must greet one another, it takes two seconds. I talk to everyone at the community center. Small, small things make an enormous difference in the lives of others.”
Just noticing others and the progress that they are making with their health goals, saying things like ‘It looks like your waist is slimming down’ is validating their efforts as well as their humanity. Mark often notices that just making a simple observation or offering a friendly greeting “brings a smile to their faces and eyes.”
While Aslam’s mission may be one of health and fitness, his core principles are rooted in the value of every human being. The strength of our society being the core of our community and it’s human interactions. Reaching outside of ourselves to greet one another builds community and makes both parties happier. Sometimes the other person may not reciprocate or may even be hostile to our friendliness, but usually other people respond positively to kindness.
“People avoid interaction” says Mark, “but they actually appreciate it.”
One of Aslam’s goals in life has become helping others. There is one community center member that Aslam will never forget. This member was in his 70’s and in very ill health. He even had a difficult time opening his eyes. After working out consistently and changing his eating habits, during the course of three years, this member experienced huge life changing benefits.
“It is so good to help in some way. It is so good to have been able to help him to live longer,” said Aslam.
One thing Aslam emphasises about why people fail to reach their health goals is consistency.
“Some people come and then disappear,” he says. “They are not progressing. Inconsistency and food is their problem. Consistency is the most important. Stay on for four-six weeks. Most people give up during this time.”
Health and fitness were not Aslam’s profession until recent years. He used to be a commission mortgage broker and financial consultant. He came to the U.S. as a student at The University of Oklahoma in the 1970’s. A native of India, he chose to make the U.S. his home. His met his wife while they were both students in Oklahoma. She is a native of South Korea and they have been married for more than 30 years and enjoy life in their adopted country.
He commented that there is so much to be thankful for here. Some of the things that many people here don’t fully appreciate is the abundance of food and clean water.
“People are often very angry, hyper, always busy, busy, busy with a lot of things they don’t have to do, and they have a lot of health problems” as a result. He pointed out that even for people who don’t have access to a great community center like the one here in Caldwell, many health insurance programs will pay toward their health club memberships. Getting out into the community to exercise helps not only to increase physical fitness but also helps people make connections with other human beings. All of these things can work together to make a positive impact in the lives of individuals and by extension the communities that they are part of.
The Caldwell Community Center’s phone number is 973-228-7665 or online at www.caldwell-nj.com