This is the first in a series of articles written by personal trainer and fitness expert India Parker-Smith. Here she describes her aims and looks at lifestyle and attitude.
My aim over the next few months is to try and inform the readers that becoming fit and improving healthy can be simple; a few simple steps at a time is all that is required – plus a little dedication and self-motivation.
There really is little excuse these days not to be fit and healthy, so that’s why I was rather alarmed to find out that a recent report by the Health of Europe found that the UK was one of the fattest nations in the world, although the South East of England fared relatively well nationally. However, it was not the county of Sussex that lowered the obesity average in the South East, but we do sit rather uncomfortably around the lower middle ranks.
So what could the reasons for these high obesity rates be? Too many chips shops in a town has been cited for a correspondingly high level of obesity but I would suggest the reasons are more systemic; wealth, education and culture playing a more significant role than mere deep-fried food.
The road to reversing the well documented trend of increasing obesity is not nearly as difficult as often portrayed. There are five very simple and basic rules to losing and controlling weight best summarised in the acronym LEARN: Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships and Nutrition.
We are all familiar with the link between food and obesity; the combination of too much of the wrong kind of food and too little of the healthy Nutritional stuff. We all tend, also, to know that we lead too sedentary a life and need to Exercise more. The portrayal that exercise is boring and involves endless hours of running may be seen as a barrier to many people. But these days there are so many different ways to be active, people just sometimes need to be offered the choice. Which just leaves the two elephants in the room: Lifestyle and Attitude.
The easier of the two here is Lifestyle. A change of Lifestyle is more often than not required in order to lead a more healthy life, control weight and generally feel a bit fitter and stronger. However, people can be very reluctant to venture out of their comfort zone and daily routine. However, minimal adaptations can be taken such as walking up stairs rather than taking the lift or walking to the local shop instead of driving.
Before these lifestyle changes can be enforced, an individual’s Attitude is the main component that has to be modified. People see exercise through a negative perception; it involves getting sweaty, being out of breath and produces much unwanted bodily stress and exertion. Once people realize the positive effects of exercising regularly even at a low level they will realize the benefits such as reduced stress levels and weight loss and increased self-esteem and self confidence.
With the combination of all the components of LEARN, people will soon realise that there is more to weight loss than extreme dieting, sweatiness and fatigue. If people adapt their lifestyle and perceptions to be ‘fit- friendly’ then the overall rates of obesity should decline.
India Parker-Smith, raised and educated in West Sussex, is a leading Personal Trainer with a degree in Sport and Exercise Science. She was Sussex county champion in the U20s 400 metres and has excelled in other sports including netball, hockey, and horse riding. She is passionate about helping others improve their health through exercise, nutrition and motivation.