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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 Self control: yes, that crazy, outdated notion I’ve spoken of many times before.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 September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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