As the old year ended, I was confronted by an article written by Samantha Maiden in the News Ltd Sunday papers about politicians losing weight.
Sam had initially selected me as a successful example of size reduction. Come the last Sunday of the year, I was feeling appropriately affirmed by the anticipated lauding of my dietary achievements.
As dawn broke I leapt out of bed, into the car, and off to the local shop to pick up the Sunday Herald Sun. But as I opened the paper my bubble burst. Compared to Bob Baldwin’s shedding of 70 kilos, my paltry 4 kilos represented little more than a foregone Sunday roast. Indeed in the article itself, my role was simply to play foil to Jamie Briggs’ effort of losing 17 kilos, inspired by people continually telling him that he looked as fat as me.
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About a third of our health suffering is self-induced; it’s what we eat, drink, smoke and how we exercise. The Australian Health Survey from the Bureau of Statistics reveals a new gap which few have noted; the bush health gap.
Outer regional and remote Australians are 50% more likely to smoke, 28% more likely to drink dangerously and 20% more likely to binge. Thankfully, today’s ABS data shows that nationwide, smoking and drinking rates falling but the news isn’t so good on obesity.
Since the last health survey in 2007, Australia’s overweight and obesity rate climbed from 61% to over 63%. That represents each and every year, an additional 110,000 overweight Australians for our health system to manage. What is more disturbing how much worse the situation is in the bush. Urban obesity rates are 25% compared to 35% in remote areas. Add the overweight to bush obesity numbers and total ticks over 70%.
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Last week, after two decades or so of prevarication, I made my will. Tough Mudder does that to a fellow.
If you were watching the telly on Saturday, you might have seen footage of 10,000 or more weekend warriors, SAS pseuds, Bear Grylls wannabes, muscle heads, gym bunnies, fools and otherwise completely normal people taking part in Sydney’s first ever Tough Mudder.
This is my story, or at least the story of a troop of seven 40-somethings who competed to the very best of their limited ability in what is billed as “probably the toughest event on the planet”.
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Gym burn-out can strike at any time. And it might not even be your hamstring or your Achilles that gives out – but rather your eyeballs. My gym has more make-up on show than the ground floor of Myer; and the fashion is the closest you’ll get to psychedelia this side of the law.
One day it’s all too much – you know you’ve got to get off that rubber road to nowhere.
Just like dogs used to eat scraps, we used to exercise in clothes that weren’t really good enough for any other activity. But it’s a rare sight these days to see an independent soul out exercising in some kit that the Salvos would turn down.
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Look at this explosion of nuts, bolts, wires and assorted metal doo-dats. Just look at it.
It’s the first page of the instruction booklet for the rowing machine I recently purchased from my local Big W, and the large black words on the side of the box said “easy to assemble”. Easy my big fat (but for long!) backside.
I bought the machine having spotted it in a mailbox catalogue. The catalogue said nothing about self-assembly until the extremely fine print on the very last page, which I originally missed. So when I went to the store, I was a little surprised they gave me a box. Like I say, though, the box said “easy to assemble”.
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Two thousand and twelve is a party away. Enjoy those final few cigarettes, that last packet of Tim Tams, that extra glass of wine, those lazy hours on the couch.
Revel in slouching, swearing, picking your nose and ignoring that old lady who needs help crossing the street. Behold the sum total of the vices your New Year’s resolutions will grab by the throat, tear limb from limb and consign to the bad habits of history.
For a day or two.
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In the age of specialisation and outsourcing, perhaps it is only logical that we should contract out responsibility for beating our bodies into shape. Self-discipline is no longer a pre-requisite for a hard body, you just need cash.
And if you’ve got the cash but you’re not sure you can motivate yourself to keep the appointments, you can always pay in advance – then if you’re tempted to skip a session you’ll need to confront the prospect that you may be not only fat but stupid – a rough start to any morning.
To an extent it has become a box to tick – “My trainer this, my trainer that…”. And sometimes even a kind of defence - “You’re fat and unfit? Hhhmm. You’re fat and unfit but you’ve got a trainer – well that’s ok…”
The Australian government is bent on making fat people slim in the most condescending way possible.
Last month, an incredibly juvenile media campaign was launched to encourage Australians to make healthier lifestyle choices.
The “Swap it, Don’t Stop it” campaign is a multimedia extravaganza, featuring television, print and radio ads, an iPhone app and Facebook page.
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Why is it that when a health care professional informs a morbidly obese man that he should lose some weight, that mans first reaction is to cry ‘discrimination’?
Where is the prejudice in this situation? As a society we are practically drowning in information about the inextricable link between being overweight and being unhealthy. If you think three square meals a day can be purchased through a drive-thru window, and that exercise is getting up to change the channel when you’ve lost the remote, then that should remove your right to feel offended when you’re handed an ample helping of the truth.
If someone who has spent the better part of a decade at medical school learning how to piece you back together if you break, tells you to drop a few kgs, they’re doing it for your own good.
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If you have an aversion to thousands of riders in brightly coloured lycra, it’s not for you. If, however, you are a keen recreational cyclist who delights in an outdoor adventure, the Great Victorian Bike Ride is one of the ‘must do’ events in life.
First conducted in 1984, when 2,100 people cycled from Wodonga to Melbourne, it has grown into one of the great cycle touring events in the world. Last week, 5,000 people rode from Portland in the west of the State, via Cape Bridgewater, along the iconic Great Ocean Road to Geelong.
Averaging 70 kilometres a day, the huge peleton spread for kilometres along the coastal road. There was every shape and size of human imaginable, battling headwinds from Port Fairy to Port Campbell one day, and then the long climbs to Laver’s Hill and over the Otways the next.
ALMOST 70 per cent of men say that a woman’s face is much more important than her breasts, legs or figure, a Punch survey of male attitudes on female body image has found.
And almost two-thirds of men believe that women spend far too much time worrying about their appearance, and should spend less time fretting about what men think - because you are all much hotter than you think you are.
The Punch has today assembled this special package of pieces about female body image through the eyes of blokes. Much of it is framed around our 100-man survey, but also includes columnist Joe Hildebrand talking about his love of fat chicks and former Zoo Weekly online editor Chris Deal’s essay on why men are as dumb as you probably suspect they are.
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A little known fact I like to trot out at feminist rallies and family gatherings is that I use to work for the esteemed gentlemen’s periodical, Zoo Weekly magazine. Officially my title was Online Editor, but unofficially it was You Tube surfer and talker to the hottest chicks planet earth has ever produced.
Sadly my tenure at the Encyclopaedia Tit-tanica was brief, and a decision that to the male ego sounds like the frothy rantings of a mad man. In bloke-speak the phrase “I quit a job at Zoo Weekly” roughly translates to “I’m a frightful shirtlifter, pass the amyl and pump up the Right Said Fred”.
But after I’ve stopped trying to use my penis for a brain, not only is the fleshy mirage of life at a lad’s mag revealed, but so too are a few finer points of the deluded male mind.
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These are the raw numbers for the female body image survey.
1. Which of these physical qualities do you value most highly in a woman?
A.) Pretty face 68
B.) Great breasts 8
C.) Nice legs 8
D.) Perfect fat-free figure 16
Hi. My name is Ashlee. I’m a 24 year old Australian woman. I have a relatively successful media career for my age, given the current economic climate. I currently live and work in Indonesia. I have always tried to give back to the communities in which I live through volunteering and I don’t have a criminal record. I do have a gym membership though. I’m doing OK. Oh, but I forgot to add, I am fat.
Actually, I should say obese, according to my BMI.
And apparently this makes me some kind of social pariah who should be the target of intense public ridicule and scorn, no matter what food I may or may not put in my mouth, no matter how many times a week I work out.
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David Penberthy’s health sandwich is laden with a generous helping of cynicism and a pinch of exaggeration.
By calling for a reduction of the harmful fats in our food, Bob Carr is not seeking to ban fast food outlets. Instead, he is highlighting how easy it would be to make our takeaway foods substantially healthier.
Australians love to eat out - nearly one in three of us do so almost every day, which adds up to a massive 3.8 billion meals eaten out every year.
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Our supposedly classless society is showing signs of being divided into two camps where people’s private choices as individuals and their behaviour as families are regulated on the basis of their affluence.
And it’s in the area of nutrition, preventative health and exercise where the working class, for want of a better term, is increasingly being treated like a bunch of babies, while the more affluent members of society continue to live as they please.
It’s only a small thing but it’s a signifier for the times, a demonstration of a mindset which holds that working class people are unable to modify their behaviour, while the gentry can be trusted to keep its conduct in check. But get along to the SCG, that great people’s arena, where our knockabout, egalitarian society lets the members drink as much full-strength beer as they want and limits the great unwashed to light beer.
It has become somewhat fashionable of late to out oneself as a bit of a reader. A self-confessed bookworm. A well-read head, as it were.
The trend, of course, was started by this site’s resident well red-head, complete with that strangely-situated hyphen of hers, and it is indeed her shining example that has compelled me to write this piece. In her first column for this website, and in more or less each of her columns since, Ms Sales has – I’m sure you will have noticed – been detailing her personal history as a reader: her obsessive love of word puzzles; her discovery of camaraderie and community at a writer’s festival; and the origin of her love reading, Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood, as well as the many tributaries that have fed into that love ever since.
For my money, though, her best piece remains the one she wrote, somewhat earlier on, about being interrupted when very obviously engaged with a book. “The final step,” she wrote in that piece, “is to explode.”
Fine dining fans will be thrilled to hear that the world’s most famous restaurant – McDonalds – has just made a bold pitch for the haute cuisine end of the market with the release of two new burgers made with prime export-quality Australian Angus beef.
“Served on a sourdough bun and with gourmet trimmings for $6.45 and $6.75 respectively, the burgers represent a premium option for cost-conscious diners” a Maccas spokesman said this week.
Many people will think this latest marketing ploy is a disgrace. And I agree with them.
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If you’re like me - and hopefully you’re not, since that would make you a lazy couch potato with a strong dislike for exercise - then you’ll no doubt be heartily cheered by the efforts of a bunch of amphibious rats somewhere in Japan.
Apparently two groups of these rats were set different tasks. The unlucky ones got to paddle in a pool for six hours, with a brief break halfway through. The ‘lucky’ ones got to carry a load of weight and struggle hard for twenty seconds before being lifted from the water for ten seconds, and then thrown back in.
Clearly, some people have a strange idea of fun. But for the rats, there were some interesting changes. The ones that exercised for six hours got fitter.
But, and this is the good news bit, so did the rats which did twenty seconds hard work, followed by ten seconds break – repeated over just four and a half minutes of swimming.
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The outsourcing of responsibility for your own stupid behaviour to our nanny government continues apace with Kevin Rudd’s cockamamie plan to effectively pay people to stop shovelling tons of junk down their throats while sitting on their bum watching the telly.
Central to this plan is the utterly laughable claim from the 2007-2008 National Health Survey that 68 per cent of Australians are obese or overweight.
This figure says nothing about the real health of many thousands of Australians, but plenty about the ludicrously narrow definition of obesity.
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