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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 Self control: yes, that crazy, outdated notion I’ve spoken of many times before.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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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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