If you’re not sure what a cattle prod is, here’s the goss: it’s an electricity-charged rod that Australian cattlemen use to persuade cattle to run up ramps and into road-train trailers. Quickly. It’s the sort of thing that can change their lives. Instantly. And it’s the sort of metaphor many of us caught up in this overweight world would like to apply to our own lives. And improve them overnight.
The reality in the world today is that there are many people hoping to transform their lives. Wishing. Most people in the Western world are overweight, and the zap required to change it seems to be missing. Every year we just get fatter, and more indolent. Oh, some get obsessed with dieting and losing weight, but others don’t seem to care. And neither will achieve what they want.
If that seems a little harsh, consider this one fact: we were born to live a life of joy and vitality. If you are obsessed by pain or a void, how can you possibly enjoy life? It’s just not possible. Yet, if you bring pleasure to yourself, you stand a good chance of bringing joy to those around you as well. The aim is to feel good … inside, and outside.
Just shedding a few pounds can be enough to add years to your life and make those years much more enjoyable. Just acknowledging that excess weight reduces stamina, stresses joints, and causes illnesses – including heart disease and diabetes – is a great first step. If you decide to start each day with the intention of eating better and getting just a little exercise – one day at a time – you will find life becoming much easier than you ever expected.
These five steps are simple changes, but they can add up to a virtual cattle prod with the power to change your life:
1. Turn on your biological engines in the morning with a big glass of cold water. Whenever you feel like it during the day, have another. Water really is a wonder-fluid. It can also help to reduce hunger pangs!
2. This one is remarkably powerful for those who tend to potter about first thing – eat your breakfast within an hour of getting out of bed. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but a lot of overweight people wait until they get really hungry before eating breakfast – which means that they probably then eat too much. So eat early, and eat small.
3. Eat at least two pieces of fresh fruit each day – that’s two pieces about the size of an apple, not two grapes! Fruit is a great source of nutrition and fiber. Try for at least two different fruits so you get a variety of benefits.
4. Try to eat a salad every day, and try for at least five servings of vegetables. When you feel the urge to snack, switch to celery or carrot, or some other appealing veggie.
5. Fried foods and sweet things should also be put out of reach whenever possible. Even if the oil is drained away from fried food, there is still a lot of hidden oil to add fat and calories. And sweet means sugar, which means calories… and many other nasties as well.
So it’s really just a matter of changing a few habits. Yes, I know, easier said than done! But try this: start keeping a food diary. Write down what you eat when you eat it – and check the result at the end of the day. You may be shocked! It’s often just the incentive to get back on track!
A full program to turn your life around also has to include how you spend your day. By definition, couch potatoes are fat – so get up and go for a walk. The latest dietary and exercise advice is that you should enjoy at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. That can include the physical version of activities you normally do in a day anyway – bike riding instead of bus riding, stair-climbing instead of climbing into an elevator etc. Just think about your own day, and you’ll soon find lots of ways you can replace ‘easy’ with ‘healthy’ ways of doing your normal tasks.
Perhaps the most important part of the entire deal of putting a cattle prod to your life and regaining the vitality you deserve, is simply to make the decision to do so. Start with small goals, stick to them, and delight in how much easier it gets every day.