Health and dieting are common topics of conversation these days. Most people seem fairly concerned with trying to eat healthily and getting some form of exercise. There are people who take it far too seriously though, and sometimes it does seem like a lot of us have become obsessed with ‘being in shape’. It doesn’t help that when we page through magazines, we are bombarded with images of the 0.1% of people who are blessed with perfect bodies (often aided by 25 hour workouts and/or Photoshop). This sort of propaganda makes us feel like we are never ‘in shape’ and so we permanently worry about what we are eating and how we are exercising, which in itself causes stress. It also results in many people who are never happy with their bodies and by extension themselves, which leads to many psychological problems which are in turn manifested through difficulties in life.
It’s no surprise then that there is strong support for another school of thought, which is that the most important thing is to be happy with your body and yourself, screw what marketing and fads/trends are telling you. This is all fine and well, I do agree that we need to recognise that we will not have perfect bodies no matter what we do and we should be able to be happy in spite of that. However, I think they are swinging the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. They maintain that gym is not natural, that you should rather lead an active lifestyle, playing sport and enjoying the outdoors. But this is unrealistic because it is ignoring the original problem which led to the popularity of gyms in the first place: our lifestyles.
We live very different lifestyles compared to a few decades ago. Most of us have sedentary jobs, not even much walking required. We are under pressure to work extra hours. We have busy social schedules. All this means no time to cook, let alone exercise. We end up eating at restaurants and even worse, eating fast food. Chefs are not worried about your health, unless it’s a health food restaurant, the chef will put as much butter, oil and spices as he needs to make your food tasty. Why do you think (good) restaurant food always tastes better than you can make it? The reason is because you wouldn’t make something for yourself with so much fat in it.
We drive everywhere, we try and find the closest parking, we take the elevator or escalator. When do we ever burn any calories? We imbibe alcohol and cooldrinks which are full of calories. We snack on sweets and chips, but we never burn it off. That is unless we go to gym or do some other regular exercise. As with most things, it’s all about balance. We do need to watch what we eat, our bodies are not designed to handle all this processed food we smash into it. We do need to get some exercise, we are not meant to sit on our butts all day. But we don’t need to look like cover models, we just need to be moderately fit, moderately healthy, and that should help us to keep in shape. We should be happy with that.
I’ll see you at the gym.