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Living in Fat City

Living in Fat City
Living in Fat City

    If you live in Australia, the US, the UK, Canada or New Zealand, then you live in the same place as me; Fat City. Fat City of course, being more of a collective mindset, and a culture of eating too much and moving too little, than any geographical location, or ‘literal’ place. And while it’s not a literal place, it is very real. If you know what I mean.

    The weight of the average Australian increases by about 0.4kg (1lb) per year, every year, and it’s a pretty similar figure in most Western countries. It’s predicted that Australia (where I live) will be a totally obese population by 2050. There’s a thought. What an achievement. This is the forecast, despite the fact that we are now more educated, more informed and more aware, than we’ve ever been before. The truth is, in 2008 we are constantly bombarded with more and more information and education about diet, lifestyle, exercise, obesity, general health and all its variables, yet still, we grow.

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    As an Exercise Scientist, observer of humanity, and ex-fat bloke, there are plenty of things which fascinate me about living in Fat City (the culture, the habits, the behaviors, the thinking, the excuses, the lies, the marketing, the trends, the media), but here’s my short list:

    1. We’ve never be more informed, educated, resourced or equipped to combat obesity, yet we’ve never been fatter. We live in the information age, yet we do nothing with it. I’m amused by those who suggest that obesity is primarily an education problem, when in reality, it is (for the majority) a self-control problem. Self control: yes, that crazy, outdated notion I’ve spoken of many times before. We are inundated with education but we choose not to learn. Real ‘learning’ would have resulted in a large-scale positive change in behavior, and of course, decline in obesity levels. It hasn’t. In fact, if there was a positive correlation between the increase in education and the decline of global obesity, then we would see virtually no obesity at all. But… if we wanted to be cheeky and use ‘selective science’ (as many ‘experts’ do), we could actually conclude that the increase in education may have resulted in the increase in obesity. After all, there is a direct relationship: more education, more obesity. Yes I’m being sarcastic, but you understand my point. When it comes to diet and exercise, we know what to do, but we don’t do what we know.

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    2. I am constantly amazed at our ability (as a society) to complicate the simple. How many more books, programs and breakthrough weight-loss discoveries do we need? Really? Here’s a wacky concept, increase energy expenditure (exercise, general activity) and decrease energy intake (stop eating so much crap). A little scientific I know, but hey, it just might work. Of course it’s simple, but it requires genuine and consistent effort. Simple, of course, not to be confused with ‘easy’. And therein lies the problem. Which leads me to point three.

    3. Our obsession with the quick fix. We don’t wanna work for those results. We want someone or something to do it for us. We are precious and lazy. We are addicted to the shortcut. Give me the pill, powder, potion, product or surgeon that will make me beautiful. I am allergic to sweat and hard work it’s so ‘1985’. We are a culture obsessed with ‘easy’ and sometimes creating amazing requires a little effort. Or a lot. And we hate that. Sorry about that. I’ll try and change it.

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    4. We love playing the ‘blame game’. We would rather justify, rationalize, explain and blame someone or something for our obesity, than take complete responsibility for our fat selves. Of course it’s not our fault. We are poor victims of situations, circumstances and genetics. So not fair. If what we do to our body (lifestyle, food, exercise) is the biggest influence on our level of fitness and fatness (which it is), then obesity is typically the result of poor decision making, rather than poor genetics. Even people with poor genetics can get in great shape, if they work with their genetics and manipulate the variables the right way.

    5. I laugh when people get grumpy at me for telling the truth; what they don’t want to hear.“Okay John, it will only take two weeks to lose that hundred pounds and that huge gut you built over the last thirty years, and yes, it will be easy, fun and painless. You will definitely look incredible by next Tuesday. Wednesday, tops. In fact, just leave your body here; I’ll do it for you.”

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    6. I marvel that people pay thousands of dollars per year to walk/run on a treadmill with a built in TV, radio and fan, when they could get the same physiological benefit (or better) heading out their front door and returning thirty minutes later. No driving to the gym, no petrol costs, no waiting for machines, no travel time.

    7. Our inability to finish things. We start jogging. We stop. We go on a diet. We go off it. We join a gym. We go five times. We make resolutions. We don’t follow through. We lose fat. We regain it. We start. We stop. We get fit. We get unfit. We operate on emotion. We always find a ‘reason’ to give up. We experience momentary motivation, but we never truly commit. Real commitment (“I will do this no matter what”) creates life-long change, not temporary weight loss or occasional fitness. We’re great at starting, crap at finishing.

    8. The Victim. “But you don’t understand my life, body, time restraints, problems, situation, history, challenges, injuries, medical conditions.” Your problem isn’t your body; it’s your thinking. Get your mind in shape and your body will follow.

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    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on November 11, 2019

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

    To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

    Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

    1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

    Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

    Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

    To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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    2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

    Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

    If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

    Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

    3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

    Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

    Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

    4. Feed Your Brain

    Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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    This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

    Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

    Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

    5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

    According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

    Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

    Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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    6. Write it Down

    If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

    It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

    You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

    7. Listen to Music

    Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

    8. Visual Concepts

    In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

    Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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    Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

    9. Teach Someone Else

    Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

    Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

    10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

    Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

    So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

    Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

    More About Boosting Memory

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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