The Lightness of Being

There is no doubt it is controversial and it sure has got people talking.  I am referring to the graphic images that West Australian’s have been confronted with over the past couple of weeks since the launch of the LiveLighter campaign.  The Grababble Gut.  As a nation, we’re the heaviest we’ve ever been. As at 2010, the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that more than 4.3 million Australians, roughly one in four, were obese. In Western Australia, the story is much the same. More than 60 per cent of us are either overweight or obese. Despite claims to the contrary by supplement companies and unfortunately as frustrating as it it can be, there is no magic pill.  Keeping your weight in the right and healthy place for you always comes back to the tried and true equation, you have to make healthier choices, perhaps eat less and exercise more.  There is simply no evading this, but the payoffs are huge. Cathy O’Leary, Medical Editor of the West Australian newspaper had some really interesting comments with regards to the health promotion methods employed in this campaign in her ‘Health campaign takes guts’ article and I agree with her.  Its not rocket science and we don’t need fancy measuring tools to know when we need to lose weight particularly the ‘toxic’ kind around our middle bits and surrounding our organs.  But it isn’t easy either. I have been talking about this campaign on radio 882AM 6PR over the past few weeks and it has certainly provoked some reactions, positive and negative with regards to the effectiveness of ‘scare tactics’ and graphic images.  One of our listeners, Helen emailed in her thoughts which may resonate with some of you.

“Just listening in to your story regarding fat and our society.  I have two boys, one thin as a rack one chubby. They have the same activity level and same diet.  I worry about my older boy but really don’t know how to help him lose weight short of boot camp and strict diets but I don’t want him to have diet hang ups and body issues.  So we let him be and try to monitor what we can.  We eat takeaway maybe once a month, I cook 99% of our meals as we have severe allergies in our house.  I don’t want my boys at 7 and 10 worrying about how much fat and sugar are in their cereal, thats my job, but to be fair its hard finding yummy good food not full of salt, sugar and fat.  We are a working family and I’m lucky enough to be able to cook every night and I bake from time to time.  But families just don’t have time to be on top of this stuff all the time.    How do we help our kids and ourselves?”

Good question Helen. One of my own annoying traits to make things way more complicated than they need to be and it is easy to fall into the trap of ‘paralysis by analysis.’ This is the phenomenon where you analyse and think about something so much, the end result is zip, zero, nada. This does make changing behaviours challenging.  I often share four strategies for removing barriers to change and they are: 1.  Too much information makes it too hard to do anything.  Make sure your information is accurate and from a reputable source.  Choose one thing you are going to change and conquer it before moving on to the next target. 2.  Know where you are at – Assess your current position, what are your goals, blood tests, fitness levels, dietary assessment and use technology to track your progress. 3.  Be a certified practising health accountant – be accountable to someone (professional or personal) 4.  Get support from those around you and don’t use ‘busyness’ as an excuse.  Recognise that when you are busy and under the pump and it is difficult to control everything, things that you can in fact control like nutrition and exercise fly out of the window.

Be like a postage stamp.  Stick to one thing until you get there.

Beverley Sills