Does Our Environment Keep Us Fat And Unfit?
Today, I want to pose the question “Does our environment keep us fat and unfit?”.
It’s fair to say that over the last 2 years I’ve kind of developed a love for travel.
More so the adventure and discovering new places.
But with every trip I go on, I’m always conscious and paying close attention to environments, cultures and of course, weather.
So today I want to question if our environment (Ireland) keeps us fat and unfit.
A Tale Of Two Countries – Ireland v Canada
One place I visited recently was Vancouver, Canada.
A city that is also famous for lots of rain.
However, things there are very contrasting to here in Ireland.
I was quick to notice how active the entire environment was.
Everywhere you go there are designated footpaths and cycle lanes.
You’ve skateboarding, roller blading, running and walking.
And that was just the adults.
Walk by any seaside area and you will see tennis and basketball courts full with some people also waiting to get on.
There’s so many public gymnastic and exercise areas.
And one other thing I noticed – very few overweight people.
This is primarily because sushi is everywhere you look with little to no fast food restaurants.
(This was all a weekday).
So when you think of Ireland, we don’t have as easy of access to this.
Cycle lanes are very few and far between.
I haven’t seen a skateboard of roller blades since 1998.
(slight exaggeration for effect).
If you want to learn gymnastics as an adult, you need to travel a good distance to attend.
While we are developing cycle tracks and boarded walkways, we’re still behind the curve.
Whenever the sun does shine, we tend to favour a beer garden over outdoor activities too.
A Victim Of Our Environment
In Ireland, it’s fair to say we are blessed with plenty of bad weather.
And we can allow weather to dictate our fitness and nutrition.
How many times have you had great intentions of going to the gym/for a run/exercise but when you leave work it’s raining, grey and just downright depressing?
Before you know it, you’ve found a valid excuse to skip it for today.
An evening on the couch in front of the tv with a few cups of tea and biscuits is much more appealing.
But in the long run, it doesn’t really favour our health, fitness and waistline.
IT IS a lot tougher to stay motivated during our winter months.
We’ve not even hit mid-September and it’s already getting dark and cold in the evenings.
As each week goes by, the evenings close in.
And it can be so much easier to sit on the couch than hit the gym.
But if we do this every winter, then we become sedentary for up to 6 months of every year.
It’s why so many panic in January and rush to join gyms.
They’ve just burst the top button on their work trousers after a heavy Christmas.
But in reality, they have pretty much been idle since October.
That’s 3 months already of sitting about.
How People Beat Becoming Unfit
All joking and analogies aside, the ones who are in great shape and stay fit are the ones who continue to turn up.
They value their health, wellbeing and fitness.
It makes them feel great about themselves and they see and feel the benefits of being active.
They understand that in order to stay in shape, they need to turn up.
The days it’s pouring rain or they’re not feeling it, they still strap on their runners and go at it.
There’s no motivational quotes needed, no inspiration on social media or no personal trainer chasing them into the gym with a sally rod.
Because they’ve developed the intrinsic motivation.
Exercise is a reward to themselves.
Because they know that with each passing week, they will feel and look better.
Every week their confidence and self esteem grows that little bit more and they get more out of life.
Every day, they have the choice to either sit down and just wish they could look like ‘that’.
But they don’t, they turn up week after week.
You don’t have to go full tilt every session.
Every now and again it’s perfectly okay to take a more chilled session if you’re just not feeling it.
You get your bit done and more importantly you keep momentum.
So the choice is yours, sit on the couch and keep wishing to look like ‘that’?
Or grab your gym gear and just go get moving?
Does It Keep Us Fat?
Exercise aside, does our environment keep us fat?
Next time you’re in town, count how many butchers and fruit and veg shops there are.
Now count how many fast food restaurants there are.
I imagine the latter will outweigh the former.
Then go into your local supermarket.
Walk around and notice how many highly satisfying foods are looking at you at every turn.
Years ago, sweets, biscuits and crisps used to be confined to one aisle.
Nowadays, they line all the tills, stacked at end of every aisle and there’s 2-3 full aisles of it.
You almost have to go searching for the health food among all the junk food.
It’s only natural that you’re more inclined to want that sugary, sweet tasting food over that head of broccoli and bit of salmon.
Sure they’re almost all on offer too, right?
So every time you step foot in a supermarket you are exposed to the visual stimulation provided by all these products.
Products that are designed to catch your attention and give you the urge to buy them.
So it can take every ounce of willpower to get out of there without giving in.
How Our Employment Limits Us
Does this sound like you?
7am get up out of bed.
Grab a quick breakfast for on the go and jump into the car for the 1 hour commute to work.
You go from the car to your desk where you remained seated for up to 8 hours with little movement during the day.
From the desk back into the car for the 1 hour drive home.
You get home tired so you grab something quick to eat and sit down to watch some TV.
3 hours pass and you start thinking about going to bed.
So overall, you’ve been very limited in your activity for up to 14 hours in the day.
And you’ve spent most of that time sitting down.
Yet we rely so heavily on 2-3 hours a week in the gym to get us amazing results?
But such a small percentage of our week cannot undo the hours upon hours we remain stationary.
So we do need to start looking at ways to become more active in our days.
Fitbits are a handy way of tracking steps and quite a few people have been shocked at how little they do during their work days.
What Can We Do To Help Ourselves
The simple things will be to never go shopping when hungry.
This is when that little voice in the back of your head starts telling you “Get the cookies Sandra!!”.
Plan your meals. You don’t need to meal prep, but simply knowing what and when you are going to eat removes the decision making when you’re going to be hungry.
It gets you through the day better and you limit the time spent fighting the indulgences.
Move, and move plenty.
This does require a conscious effort to move on a daily basis.
Get up from the desk and move a bit more.
Park the car further away.
Do more than 1 trip to the car for the groceries.
Get creative and be conscious of how much you are moving.
It all adds up in the long term.
Hopefully this has raised some questions and given you an insight into areas you may need to improve.
Thanks for reading.