Does it ever seem to you that gaining weight is just the easiest thing in the world? That no matter how many new diets and exercise plans you try, you always seem to be a little bit heavier at the end of the year? It’s almost as if some external forces are conspiring against you to make you plumper.
Truth be told, you’re not far off.
(If you’re impatient and want to know what you can do about it, just skip to the last paragraphs)
Our World makes gaining weight EASY and losing weight HARD
If you want a more detailed look at why the world is suffering from such an epidemic of weight gain you can check out this article here. It explains, in pretty simple terms, what causes weight gain and why it’s becoming and bigger and bigger problem.
It's all down to the CICO model (Calories In, Calories Out): basically, our society today has made eating excess calories (IN) ridiculously easy whereas it is equally easy to not burn those calories (OUT).
Why it’s easy to eat more (Calories In)
Look around you and it’s not hard to see that eating and drinking has become an obsession;
1. Portion sizes are getting bigger and bigger
We all remember smaller portions or packages when we were kids. Now everything is “Super Sized” or “Giant” or “Family Size” (even though we don’t plan on sharing it with the family. Bigger is apparently better and the US is leading the world with the trend (I still get blown away by portions whenever I visit the US).
2. Food & food advertising is everywhere
You can’t walk down a street these days without being bombarded by images of food or seeing food displays in windows. Shops do that for a reason, to make people want to eat (even when they aren’t hungry) and it works (just ask anyone who has walked past a bakery window with me and they’ll tell you how hard it is to get me moving again).
3. Drinking calories has become the norm
Soft-drinks, juices, smoothies, beer, cocktails, sweetened teas & coffees… drinking plain old water is no longer enough. Quick to drink, delicious and loaded with sugar, sweetened drinks are one of the easiest ways to make your belt feel tighter.
4. Snacking culture
Most people don’t stop at just “3 Square Meals a day” and instead spend their time grazing between bigger meals and it’s become a cultural norm. Grabbing a coffee in the afternoon? Don’t forget your slice of chocolate cake (in a portion big enough to feed three people… it just looked so good in the desserts display… right?). Or how about the ridiculous options for food at places like the cinema... to fuel all that effort sitting down...
It all adds up and what it adds up to is an excess of "Calories In" that brings a tear to your eye when you step on scale once a month (or however often you go without checking for fear of what you’ll see).
Why it’s hard to burn it all (Calories Out)
Simple answer: we’ve just become really, really lazy;
1. We don't have physical jobs
When was the last time you broke a real sweat at your job? Let’s be honest, for many of us, the most physically demanding part of our job is walking to the kitchen for coffee (I say this as I sit in front of my computer screen for the third straight hour). Even though many of us work “HARD” (a term which these days probably better describes long hours and high stress) but there are very few people who burn a decent amount of calories in their daily jobs.
2. We travel everywhere while sitting
Going down the street to pick up milk? Take the car. It’s hot and you don’t feel like a 10-minute walk? Grab a taxi. For many, walking is an absolute last option (I prefer cycling myself) and the lay out of many cities makes driving or public transport essential. Never before has it been so easy to cover such great distances in so few steps.
3. The couch is the new recreation center
After a long hard day of sitting on our butts in the office, there’s nothing better than to spend the rest of the evening… sitting on our butts! From the comfort of the couch, you can watch TV, play video games, eat, read (I’m most certainly NOT knocking books here) and perform a whole host of recreational activities without having to even stand up. It’s no wonder that the level of physical exercise has dropped so much… who could possibly compete with the couch.
4. Everything else is done FOR us
As a society, we just don’t like doing things for ourselves anymore, we hire people to clean our homes, we pay a professional to do our gardening, we get our groceries delivered direct to our doors, we eat out in restaurants and order take away because we don’t want to cook.
We have basically created a world with the least amount of physical activity possible.
I’m not saying this is entirely a bad thing. A lot of these shortcuts allow us to focus on other activities that we prioritize ourselves and this can allow us to be more productive. The problem is that most people don't prioritize their health by setting aside time for exercise.
So we’re all destined to be fat?
The world really has it in for us. It’s so easy to eat too much and it’s so hard to get enough exercise. You could be a total pessimist and just give up right now. No one could possibly stay slim and fit and healthy in this cruel world… right?
Well just look around you.
- Does our world make staying a healthy weight easy? No
- Do some people maintain a healthy weight? Yes
- Do some people manage to control their food intake? Yes
- Do some people make exercise a regular part of their lives? Yes
- Do some people need to put in extra effort to stay at a healthy weight? Definitely
So think about it: Despite the fact that we all live in the same world with the same problems that make gaining weight so easy, some people still manage to stay slim. If we rule out really unfair genetics (which do play a role for some), the only reason that not everyone is overweight is that the slim ones are doing something different.
You don’t have an excuse
This next part is going to sound harsh:
As much as some people may want to blame their weight gain on all the reasons I’ve listed above, the fact that they have the option to do something about it makes their excuse invalid. As long as you have the power to choose what you eat and how you move your body, you can lose weight and keep it off.
If I allowed myself to believe all the bullshit excuses, I wouldn’t have the body I have today. I’d still be chubby, weak and unfit, just like I was as a teenager (which people can’t seem to believe when I tell them). If I allowed myself to be a pessimist I never would have learned all I have about nutrition and how to control what I eat. I would never have made exercise an important part of my life. I wouldn’t be writing this right now, for a website aimed at helping people fight the odds to lose weight, get strong and be healthy.
No Excuses, Just Priorities
If you really want to lose weight, you can, because other people can too. The only difference between them and you is that they have probably prioritized their health through diet and exercise (except for the truly genetically blessed) and it probably wasn’t easy for them either, at least at the beginning. Unfortunately, change rarely is easy… BUT IT IS POSSIBLE. If you make the decision and take the steps to prioritize your health, you can do it too.
I haven’t spoken about the ins and outs of losing weight here, there are plenty of ways to do it (eat less and move more is great place to start). Sometimes, however, before we can even start a great endeavor, it helps to know that what we want to do is possible. So if you have ever doubted yourself or felt that you'll never be able to lose weight, I want you to know this: YOU CAN!
Have you been working out? You're looking good!
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