Friday, April 9, 2010

It’s The Thought That Counts

I am reminded of the old song that goes, “I woke up this morning, I felt so sick I thought that I was dead.” I think it was actually a comedy song by Bill Oddie of the Goodies, but I cannot be certain. Nevertheless, I woke up this morning and read in the Herald that obesity is now more deadly than smoking. I was immediately tempted to give up eating and start smoking again instead. After all, everybody knows that smoking helps to suppress the appetite, and is an essential part of the well known supermodel diet of coffee, cigarettes and cocaine. Obviously, supermodels have no problem with obesity at all. But somehow I think that I may have misinterpreted the message.

After clearing my head with a strong black coffee (but no cigarette and certainly no cocaine), it gradually dawned on me that one was not necessarily linked to the other. It’s probably just a coincidence that the increase in obesity has occurred alongside the gradual decline in smoking. Just because we are no longer sucking on the fags doesn’t mean that we are going to automatically stuff our mouths with MacWhoppers instead. More sensible appraisal has led me to the realization that smoking never made me thin when I was a puffer, and so it probably wouldn’t do anything to help me now. Besides, the social life of a smoker has been severely curtailed in recent times so it’s just not the fun it used to be anyway.

What we do know however is that over the past forty or so years we have cut the level of smoking down from about three quarters of the population to just over 15% today. By comparison, more than 60% of Australian adults are now either overweight or obese, and becoming more so every year. Obesity, if you will forgive the obvious pun, is an expanding problem. So much so that it has now overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia. Despite decades of community education programs advising us to eat healthier food and to exercise more, we just seem to keep on getting fatter. Something is just not right.

Why is it so hard to keep ourselves at a healthy weight? This is a complex question with no simple and easy answer, no matter how many well intentioned health Nazis might tell you that no fat people came out of concentration camps. And before you take offence at such a politically incorrect observation, let me explain that I am quoting the exact advice that was actually given to me once by a doctor. The truth is that metabolism, genetic predisposition, environment, lifestyle, and a range of diverse factors all play a part.

But wait, there was one more thing that I read this morning. A British news service reported on a woman who had lost about 40 kilograms after being hypnotized to believe that she had had gastric band surgery. Without any other treatment she lost almost one third of her body weight simply because her mind believed she could not eat more than modest servings. The power of the mind is a miraculous thing, and I am wondering if perhaps, with the right attitude and maybe a little hypnotherapy, I might be able to lose weight just by thinking about it. So I have been thinking about losing weight ever since I read that article this morning, and you know what they say… it’s the thought that counts.

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