Pleasure is the first stepping stone out of obesity

CEO Wild Women On Top | Fitpreneur | Author | Speaker | Adventurer | Founder Coastrek

“For exercise to be done regularly, it must be something you like, with friends you love and a plan you support.” Di Westaway

If your New Year’s resolution hasn’t failed yet, don’t be feeling too smug. Odds are it soon will. 

Every New Year, nearly 70 percent of us choose “get fit and lose weight” as a New Year’s resolution. But 92 percent of us fail.

It takes extraordinary discipline to do stuff that hurts. When most people think fitness, they think pain. Like quitting smoking, it’s really hard to do. We know exercise is good for us. We know it will keep us healthy but we just can’t make it a daily habit.  

Last month’s National Health Survey , which slipped past most of us as we guzzled champagne at the office Xmas Party, found that 15 million Australians are overweight or obese, and mental health issues affect one in 6 of us.

We are in the midst of health crisis that’s like an avalanche. It threatens to bury more than one generation in the crevasse. And doctors, health educators, government reports, gyms, mummy fitness bloggers and celebrity fitness gurus are just not able to fix the problem.  

Obesity continues to rise. 

We need to think differently. We need to focus on making fitness fun. We need to focus on adventure. We need to focus on prevention.

In 2011–12, the government spent just 1.7 percent of the $200 billion health budget on public health activities including prevention, protection and promotion. According to Public Health Expert, Dr Robert Grenfell, “This means we spend over $200 billion a year on sick people and basically nothing on stopping people from getting sick in the first place."

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, understood prevention. He said “Walking is man’s best medicine.” Most of us see walking as a necessary chore and definitely not a cure for obesity. But it’s now scientifically proven by thousands of studies, that walking in nature is a big fat health pill. 

The Federal Government’s Australian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend we puff moderately for 2.5 – 5 hours or vigorously for 1.25 – 2.5 hours and do 2 strength activities a week. For most people, this amount of physical activity is not only difficult, it’s impossible. It’s not only scary, it’s actually a nightmare. Forty percent of Aussies want to get fit but don’t like gyms.

We need to put the fun into fitness by taking the call to adventure – just like Bilbo Baggins.

Brain experts tell us we need three fundamental things to be happy: purpose, people and plans. Apply this to exercise. If we choose an activity that has a purpose with people and a plan, it will make us happy. 

The activity must be something you love, with friends you love and a plan you love. It must be painless, or at least offer distractions from intermittent pain. It could be surfing, yoga, sailing, cycling, rock-climbing, soccer, netball or swimming if you have the skills and resources for these. 

But if not, walking is a great option. And studies show that walking with friends distracts us from the pain of hills, stairs and bad weather. And can be done by obese and overweight people. But to commit to your walking you need a buddy and a plan. And you need to start with a goal, like a trek. 

Exercise Physiologist, Dr Paul Batman, says “If I could name one activity that has it all, it certainly is Trekking and training for Treks.” 

Mother of 4, Bernadette, blogging as “Fat girl Can” , lost 20kg last year when she decided to trek 55km from Coogee to Balmoral with her friends. She liked the walking, loved the camaraderie and enjoyed getting out into the bush. Now she’s regular walker. 

Middle aged mum, Billie signed up to a group trek to Machu Picchu, lost 40kg and has never been happier.

Public Health expert, Dr Robert Grenfell says “Motivation, or lack of it, is one of the handbrakes that stop us from exercising. An effective way of building and sustaining motivation to exercise is to set a goal and do it with a group. An event like Coastrek challenges a number of these barriers – you have a goal, you are doing it with a group of friends and it is for a great cause.” 

“To achieve a challenge such as a 50km trek you need to train and that means lots of walking. After doing this there is a good chance it has set up some good habits of walking frequently.”

“Walking in nature appears to be better for you than exercising in a gym. Pretty easy to understand, but they still had to do studies to prove it. When you are outside you have the wind, sunshine, trees, birds and all those things that make you feel good inside. This is great for your mental wellbeing. Also the irregular pathways assist in improving reflexes and muscle responses. Add some friends and you have an all-round great exercise experience.”

“Walking daily for over 30 minutes outside in a park will improve your physical and mental health – scientifically proven (if we needed to prove the bleeding obvious). It only costs your time.”

So, grab your buddies, find an adventure you love and go feel its awesomeness. 

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