THE OBESE SOCIETY
Modern life has many comforts; gourmet restaurants, fine wines, luxury travel and escalators. However, these same comforts present us challenges.
Our bodies have evolved over many thousands of years to deal with food, activity, growth, hunger, satiety and sleep in very particular ways.
Like most living species, our ancestors adapted to life in a climate where food was sparse, and the process of obtaining it was long and costly. We are tailored to survive our times of famine by seeking out the richest foods whenever we can and conserving our energy as efficiently as possible in the mean time.
All this has been integral to our survival as a species, and paved the way for us to prosper into the great civilisation we are today.
But now, in the blink of an evolutionary eye, the landscape of our society has fundamentally flipped on its head. Food is now more abundantly available and hyper-calorific than ever, and specifically designed to appeal to our already heightened hormonal attraction to energy dense foods (AKA Doughnuts).
As well as this increase in food, our lives are increasing sedentary as the majority of us move only from our beds, to the car, to the office, to the sofa.
We are the same energy thrifty, industrious, hunter gatherers we have always been, but now we live in a different world, with different rules.
Modern society can put our health, fitness and body composition at a hefty disadvantage. Obesity is now a growing epidemic, but the answer isn't in fat burners, juice diets or the latest HIIT class. It's in an understanding of our bodies, what we need and what we don't need, and some sense of re-establishing a sustainable relationship between food, rest and movement.
Obesity is a reflection of our society, not our individuals. To challenge obesity on a large scale we must address these overarching issues of food consumption and sedentary lifestyles. However, on an individual basis; the first step to losing weight is understanding and accepting why you are overweight to begin with. Then we can set about creating change.
WHY DO WE GET FAT?
Majority of 24 hour day spent sitting or laying down
No formal exercise
Sedentary genetic disposition (low NEAT)
Over Consumption of Energy
Large portion sizes (cereals, pasta, rice, oils are often served 3-4 times more than recommended)
Frequent high calorie meal choices (pizzas, curries, burgers, chips)
Frequent non-filling snacking throughout the day (crisps, chocolates, nuts, biscuits)
High calorie coffees throughout day (lattes, cappuccinos, frappe)
Over consumption of ‘healthy foods’ (lots of nuts, avocados, seeds, peanut butter, smoothies)
Additional calories from alcohol (weekday wine/beers or weekly binge drinking)
HOW DO WE CREATE CHANGE?
Commit to moving more (walk a portion of your commute, get up from your desk once an hour, or walk to get your lunch - use your full lunch hour)
Take up an active hobby (dancing, swimming, boxing, rock climbing, cycling, country walking, yoga, resistance training, anything)
If you have identified a genetic trait to struggle to keep weight off. The best bet is to counter this head on by doubling your efforts in step one (drink more water to increase toilet visits, get a step counter to make sure you’re walking 10,000 steps a day, take the stairs where possible, wake up an hour early if necessary to add some more walking).
Reduce Energy Consumption
Control portion sizes (rice, oats, pasta, cerals; one cupped hand size = 1 portion (or about 30g) Nuts, butters and seeds; one thumbs size = 1 portion (about 10g).
Adding protein and fruit/veg to each main meal (more filling and lower calorie)
Swapping sweet/processed snacks for a fourth light meal, or a high protein afternoon snack (such as reduced fat cheese, greek yogurt or smoked salmon)
Swapping fancy coffee calories for lower calorie options (black coffee, or skimmed milk)
Reducing alcohol intake to once per week
Reducing restaurant indulgence to once per week