By Dougal Macdonald
It’s easy to apportion blame for the ever-increasing global body size onto the fast food manufacturers, but we are the ones responsible for buying food from them. Ronald McDonald isn’t holding you ransom, and Colonel Sanders isn’t forcing you to pick up one of his finger lickin’ good bargain buckets. YOU make that choice.
We know the causes of obesity, yet the figures keep rising. So perhaps the more pertinent question to ask is: what are we going to do about it? And by ‘we’ I mean each of us individually; not the government of your country, but you and me. You and me, together, standing up against obesity and saying, “NO MORE!”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) global rates of obesity have doubled since 1980. In 2008 it was estimated that more than 1 billion adults were overweight. Five hundred million of them were clinically obese, with 300 million of those being women. In 2011, more than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight. Severely obese children, aged between six and ten, are dying of heart attacks.
Mid 2012, Reuters published an article stating that the additional annual cost of medical care directly related to obesity during 2011 was $190 billion. The indirect costs were much higher. To name just a few: increased absenteeism from work, decrease in productivity, increase in short-term disability, and hospitals needing to replace existing equipment for new models able to cope with significantly larger weight and widths of patient, all added up to an incredible $450 billion.
Despite being a fitness professional for over 14 years, and used to reading such facts and figures, I’m still stunned at the enormity of these most recent sums. Almost $650 million for the United States alone. Factor in the costs for the rest of the world and the overall global obesity cost will be truly incomprehensible!
The global population now exceeds seven billion – meaning just over 14% of everyone living on the planet is part of the obesity problem. That is a truly frightening statistic; I don’t even want to start to imagine what these numbers will look like ten years from now.
What staggers me is that this can be avoided. Obesity is completely preventable. As I said earlier, laying the blame at the feet of the fast food guys for selling their ‘food’ (and I use that word very loosely), or the governments of our country for not legislating against them, is pointless.
We need to look inwards at ourselves. We need to take immediate action and responsibility, because this is OUR problem.
I’m a great believer in gratitude journal writing. It has certainly brightened the colour of my world and one of the things I write pretty much every day is, “I am so grateful that I understand I need to take responsibility for everything that happens in my life.”
Taking responsibility for something doesn’t mean we caused it. It can simply mean we have decided to do something about it without apportioning blame. Unless we take responsibility for what we feed our families and friends, we are not going to be around in a few years to change our minds.
So, where do we start?
It’s going to be more difficult for some families than others. If you have a 12-year-old who loves Big Mac and supersized fries, it may not be easy to persuade them to ditch that overnight. But since when has anything worth doing been easy? It may be a case of introducing healthier options bit by bit, over time, rather than implementing a complete and immediate change from junk to super healthy. But the practical and mental changes need to be worked on daily.
Health and Fitness has no favorites. It is a very forgiving master in that it allows you to begin at any point but it does say ‘you must begin’. So let’s get started!
Getting healthy, strong and fit doesn’t actually start with getting off the sofa. It begins with a single thought and thoughts become actions.
If you and your family become conscious of your health and fitness, then the process has begun and you’ve already embarked on your journey to a better way of living and feeling. The thinking part then gives way to: what shall we do to get fit and healthy?
1. Set aside some family time and discuss everyone’s feeling about Health and Fitness so that you have a starting point and can address any negative feelings and worries.
2. Appoint a brand champion. Have someone take responsibility for the plan and its implementation.
3. Come up with a cool team name, something like: FORRESTER|FAMILY|FITNESS and have a positive affirmation payoff line, “Having fun, getting fit!” for example.
4. Get some team t-shirt printed and wear them when you’re exercising as a family. Who knows what positive effect it will have on the neighbors; maybe you’ll spark a neighborhood fitness initiative.
5. Implement your plan, which needs to include the following three components to make it effective:
a. MOVING (cardio). Agree times when all of you are together and go for a walk. Or run around with a game of family soccer, throwing frisbies, ANYTHING that gets you moving and makes your heart beat just a little bit faster than it’s been used to.
b. STRENGTH (picking things up and putting them down). While you are walking or running around as a family, stop, do 10 push ups against a tree - even the little ones can do that. Walk/run around some more, then stop again and, whilst supporting yourself to begin with, do 10 squats. The next time you stop after that, touch your toes 10 times. Repeat until you’re home, then lie on the ground and just stretch lazily in whatever direction you like. JOB DONE!
c. EAT (eating and drinking). Avoid foods that are processed and full of hidden bad fats and sugar. Choose good protein sources: chicken, eggs (boiled, scrambled, or poached), and fish, or lean beef mince for example. Pick a healthy carbohydrate source: wholegrain bread, brown pasta, brown rice, or potatoes. Add a healthy fat source – butter is a good one and far better for you than processed spreads claiming to be healthy.
Guess what? You’ve begun! You’re on your way!
Your journey as a family may not always be easy. Follow these simple steps on a regular basis a couple of times a week and you will be well on your way to a healthy fit lifestyle. It will take commitment and determination to progress and there will be times when things get tough. Stay strong as a family; support each other and encourage those who struggle sometimes. Be compassionate, but be resolute and strong in that there will be no giving up!
As you all progress and become more confident, you can move to a nearby gym where your cardio and strength training can become more sophisticated. There will probably be a pool there too – swimming is an excellent form of exercise, so consider designing a family swim challenge. You could even get a little trophy to award to the ‘winner’ each week or month.
In all likelihood you will have been doing some reading and studying on nutrition and now have a better understanding as to what healthy eating on a daily basis really means, and are following a more structured plan.
You can choose to take the road less travelled for you and your family and join in with the fight against obesity – it’s OUR responsibility after all. OR you can carry on the way you are now – hoping you’ll get away with it until someone else steps to put a stop to it. It is my sincere hope that you take the high road and that reading this is your tipping point.
If you’re wondering whether it’s worth all the effort and what difference you, as a family, can make on your own, then FAST FORWARD:
Your children are growing up strong, fit and healthy. You are taking part in family sporting events and perhaps even competing in mini triathlons. Unbeknown to you, the family down the street saw you all making positive changes to your lifestyles. This inspired them to start their own health and fitness journey which ultimately prevents the dad from having a heart attack in the future. You all look and feel fantastic. Now ask yourself the question again.
Was it all worth it? YOU BETCHA!
About the Author:
Dougal Macdonald has been studying the mind, and how it relates to human behaviour, for over 40 years. His unique methods go far beyond just counting reps and sets and consistently see clients achieve their goals.
He believes that getting fit and healthy permanently, is more about the mind than the body. When working with clients, both online and in person, a clear mindset is established at the outset: no permanent change can reasonably be expected before a mind-shift occurs.
Dougal has entered several South African Body-for-LIFE competitions over the years, and has never placed lower than 3rd. He founded and ran the South African Body-for-LIFE club with the blessing and support of EAS South Africa. He also became certified as an EAS Success Coach.
Quickly realizing his calling was related to Health and Fitness, he formulated and continue to live by his personal mission statement: To empower 5 million people to find, and fulfill their purpose through Health and Fitness.
To learn more about Dougal go to: http://sixpackforgirls.com/