Reading about Richard Marles’ experience on a water slide this summer reminded me of an episode of The Simpsons when Homer takes Bart and Lisa to a water theme park. 

I'm not half the man I used to be… Pic: Dean Martin

Just like Richard Marles, Homer’s attempt at going down a water slide ends in serious embarrassment.  Richard’s experience wasn’t as shocking as Homer’s though – who had to be cut out of the water slide and placed back to earth by a crane. 

Thankfully, unlike Homer, Richard has decided not to pursue a life in the ‘moo-moo’, but is instead seeking to, albeit slowly, trim down for a healthier life.  In fact, while there’s no shortage of reports telling us how fat we are, there are more and more of us attempting to lose that spare tyre.

A report might say we are a nation of fatties, but we are fast becoming a nation of people trying to lose it. 

We all have our motivations for doing so.  Some are spurred on by the nightly news telling us how horribly unhealthy we have become; others are motivated by the fact they can’t keep up with their children on the push-bike anymore.  Richard Marles decided to hit the gym because his sparring partner on Sky News had lost his extra chin and was making him look rather large on TV. 

Others are hitting the gym as an escape.  The Parliament House gym has become somewhat of a sanctuary for politicians, staff and journalists seeking refuge from the daily grind of politics. 

Whatever the motivations for exercising, trying to lose weight and starting a healthier life is a good thing. 

But while we are turning a corner and trying to lose the bulge, roadblocks – mainly self-made – still remain. 

It’s easy to avoid the gym.  There is always an excuse not to go.  You’ll go tomorrow.  And then when you do go, your confidence is shot because there’s the marathon runner on the treadmill next to you, or there’s a body-builder pushing weights as easy as picking up a feather. 

Before long, your attempt at the gym is over, and like the confessions of Richard Marles, you crave a return to the couch. 

As you get a bit older, you might not be able to fit down a water slide like you did when you were twelve, or run as fast as you once did, but that’s no excuse for a return to the confectionery section of the supermarket. 

With exercising, you need to endure a bit of discomfort to feel the results.  Eating a cocktail of burgers, ice cream and chocolate gives you an instant hit, but makes you feel terrible as you digest it.  When you exercise, the feelings are reversed.  During exercise, your legs hurt, your back can ache, and your breathing is about as loud as an A380 taking-off, but then you feel good afterwards (well, after the lactic acid has gone and your muscles have healed).

As we get into the New Year, try to remember the bloated feeling you get after you eat junk food, before you enter the drive-thru, and when you are sweating it out at the gym, focus on the long-term results. 

Then, maybe, we won’t have to worry about politicians blocking-up water slides. 

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDT.

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    • Fed Up says:

      07:40am | 25/01/13

      “try to remember the bloated feeling you get after you eat junk food, before you enter the drive-thru”

      Stop it!
      You’re making me want to go back for seconds.

      I’ve been on the thinner side all my life….no fancy gym…no fancy exercises….just hard work.
      Now that im old…. im fat and loving it.
      Eat whatever i like…when ever i like….but in moderation of course.

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      08:07am | 25/01/13

      I have to laugh FedUp.  I’ve been exactly the same always stick thin regardless of what I ate and my exercise regime.  Now approaching 50 even though I exercise I’m finding my girth expanding.  Part of me is worried but the other part is saying “oh what the hell, who am I trying to impress anyway”

      Good to see somene else is in the same boat and has the same attitude.

    • Keithmac says:

      08:55am | 25/01/13

      Jamie, it’s a ‘muumuu’, not a ‘moo-moo’ smile

    • Eskimo says:

      11:05am | 25/01/13

      From the same party that brought us hyper-bowl.

    • TrevorA says:

      09:21am | 25/01/13

      Watched yesterday Fox news and the New York council has opened adult playgrounds for people who want to excercise and don’t want or cannot afford to, join gyms.

      It has been so successful they are planning another 12 this year. This is getting to the people who need support in fighting weight.

      Same size as junior playgrounds but with adult excercize stations.

    • Donny says:

      10:23am | 25/01/13

      Trevor, I was in Saigon early last year and noticed something similar in some of the public recreation areas there.  People who were just strolling along would stop for a while and do an exercise routine, rotating thriugh the equipment. 
      Think it was a great idea.

    • AFR says:

      10:27am | 25/01/13

      Not sure where you are located, Trevor, but I can think of dozens of them in Sydney, and other locations around Australia - they are usually along walking paths (the Bay Run in Sydney’s inner west has a brand new one as well as an older one) or close to beaches from my experience.

      BTW, I think they are a top idea - perhaps even governments can legislate to ensure every LGA has one (like they do for example, with off-leash areas).

    • cityboy says:

      03:46pm | 25/01/13

      Watching Fox News is dangerous to your (mental) health

    • Cranky ol' Bugga says:

      09:56am | 25/01/13

      Refreshing to see a pollie capable of flicking the ‘OFF’ switch on rancid party-line babble occasionally. Does smack of the young lecturing the not-so-young a tad though. You will be older and stiffer on day too Jamie!

    • Tator says:

      11:20am | 25/01/13

      well done on the weight loss, keep it up as it is very easy to regress into bad habits.  A healthy body also helps one thought processes as one is not worrying about the discomfort that carrying extra weight creates not to mention the health risks such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and joint issues.  But once the weight is off, the risks from these decreases dramatically and stays away whilst you keep your fitness levels up.

    • TrevorA says:

      12:10pm | 25/01/13

      Thanks Donny and AFR for your comments I am in Melbourne and it is bicycle mad Ratepayers,residents,local workers are being pushed aside by bike nasties and the abuse seems to be getting worse.Mothers with kids, elderly,those with dogs are all second rate.

      The comment about the gyms was new to me.Hopefully local councils will support

    • VJR says:

      02:50pm | 25/01/13

      In Hobart they just opened up another big Mac in the city just what this very over weight State needs.  I drove by the other day and the car park was full the drive through was humming along and I thought about all the messages about eating healthily watching you blood sugar etc. It dosen’t seem to have caught on to those people I saw they wer not your average bogan but ordinary aussie’s out for a meal with their kids in tow or young people enjoying each others company.  Same with smoking the number of young women who smoke is very disturbing.  So in the end for me all the Governments health messages are not worth the paper they are printed on - people will do what they like which of course is their right.  Happy Australia day.

    • DocBud says:

      04:27pm | 25/01/13

      You are quite right, VJR, most of the government health measures are not worth the paper they are written on because they are based on wrong information or simply made up based on what people intuitively think is healthy.

      Alcohol limits were a guess:

      Equally, there is no scientific basis for the recommendations on fruit and vegetable consumption.

      Same is true of salt intake:

      The largest misinformation surrounds our weight:

      Association of All-Cause Mortality With Overweight and Obesity Using Standard Body Mass Index CategoriesA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
      Katherine M. Flegal, PhD; Brian K. Kit, MD; Heather Orpana, PhD; Barry I. Graubard, PhD, JAMA. 2013;309(1):71-82.

      This recently published study found:

      “Grade 1 obesity (BMI of 30-<35) overall was not associated with higher mortality, and overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.”

      The overwhelming majority of those being targeted fall into these two categories yet it is only the very obese (BMI of >35) who are at greater risk.

      Another study from Canada was published in 2010:

      BMI and mortality: results from a national longitudinal study of Canadian adults.
      Orpana HM, Berthelot JM, Kaplan MS, Feeny DH, McFarland B, Ross NA. Health Analysis Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

      This study concluded:

      “Our results are similar to those from other recent studies, confirming that underweight and obesity class II+ (BMI 35+) are clear risk factors for mortality, and showing that when compared to the acceptable BMI category, overweight appears to be protective against mortality. Obesity class I was not associated with an increased risk of mortality.”

      The relative risk for the underweight (1.73) was significantly higher than that for mordidly obese (1.36).

      I’d much rather have my BMI of 28 than a supposedly normal one of around 19 or 20, especially bearing in mind that a BMI of 27 used to be considered normal until the nannies decided there weren’t enough fatties to worry about.

      These facts are ignored by politicians and health campaigners because so much has been invested in trying to tell us how to live our lives. Who is going to be brave enough to say: we were wrong, it is okay if you are overweight or mildly obese, so don’t worry just try to keep fit?

    • Don says:

      04:05pm | 25/01/13

      What self-indulgent crap


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