In recent years the government and food conscious celebrities have been endorsing living a ‘healthy lifestyle’ and ‘eating well’. This is due to levels of obesity rising rapidly, and health concerns regarding weight have been in the media almost weekly. In February 2012, experts predicted that by the year 2020, one third of the UK could be obese, a worrying statistic.
The government and health concious celebrities such as Jamie Oliver and Gillian McKeith have created campaigns aiming to change the way that we eat as a nation, from greasy, cheap, fat-filled food to natural, organic, fresh produce. In theory this is all well and good, most of us would rather be in shape, healthy and active if the choice was completely ours, but there are a few factors that determine our diets and activity levels. The most obvious factor is that many jobs involve sitting down for most of the day, resulting in low heart rates and activity levels. This sedentary state also means that we’re not burning many calories at all, sat at a desk answering business calls or replying to emails. If we were walking around more often or even standing instead of sitting, we could up the energy the body uses by a significant amount, making us more mentally active and awake, and increasing productivity. Health organizations recommend we get up and walk about every 1-2 hours, a short walk around the office that is, not a long countryside stroll!
Difficulties and means over overcoming them
One of the main limiting factors is the cost of fresh food; the healthy option is also the expensive option and vice versa. You can go into any supermarket or food shop and get a lot more for your money if you buy processed food; pizzas, burgers, fried chicken and chips are cheap! Foods like fresh vegetables and fruit, fresh meat and reduced fat items are far more expensive than the unhealthy options. This makes it harder for people to eat healthily and maintain a good diet, full of the vitamins, fibre and micronutrients. In a time when money is tight and everything is getting more expensive, food becomes less of priority in terms of quality of produce and the cheaper option of a take away is preferable, for both price and convenience, begging the question ’Why bother?’. You get home from a long day at the office and your faced with the dilemma, what’s for dinner? In under half an hour and for half the price of a healthy, home cooked meal, you can ring a local take away and get the food delivered to your door. The campaigns for healthy eating expect us to make the switch but if that change costs twice, three, even four times as much, what’s the incentive? If we literally can’t afford to eat healthily and it’s so much easier and cheaper to order in, there’s nothing we can do, surely?
If you are unemployed or simply not earning enough to fund a diet of healthy meats, fresh fruits and other fat fighting ingrediants, then all is not lost because being healthy isn’t just a case of eating better. Exercising is also a major part, from cardiovascular to resistance (Weight) training increase fitness levels, a healthy balance between both is great for both mind and body.
Before you ask; No, you don’t need to join a gym to get fit (although it does help!). There are many exercise plans available online for those wanting to get in shape and become fitter from home. The issue of cost becomes a factor, gym memberships aren’t cheap, but again, tthis can be a motivator to attend and get most of your money.
In the modern era, everything invented is about convenience. The more convenient the better, and with technology being designed around making things easier and requiring less human effort, it makes exercising even harder. Sitting in front of the television with so many channels, it’s harder for people to make the decision to get up and do something. You can even order food from some televisions now, via the internet, evenings sorted without even moving, thinking of an excuse is a lot easier than being proactive, especially after the stresses of the office. If you have just spent a 10 hour day at work being bombarded with client querries and management on your back, the last thing you want to do is whip our your Jamie Oliver cook book!
See also: How to Break Bad Habits
Having said this, if you want to be healthy enough you can do it. It may be expensive to eat healthily but think of it this way, people are happy to spend £80-£100 down the pub or out on the town so why not put it to better use? I can’t deny that eating well, exercising 5+ times a week and cutting out bad habits is tough, but a motto I live by is "nothing tastes as good as looking good feels"...except maybe Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The government need to back their own initiative of health conscious living by making it accessible to everyone and removing cost as an excuse or we could be looking at a serious consequences regarding health in the UK. So when you finish your shift, don’t sit in front of the TV and eat a take away, attend your local gym or join a fitness class, make the change today and you will start to notice positive changes in all areas of your life!