There is no hiding from the O word any longer…

By Caoimhe Bennis

I just cracked open a 50% extra free Pepsi max and downloaded an article on Smart food policies for obesity. It is a subject close to my heart, which currently, beats happily with sugar rich blood pumping short term fuel to my tired brain.

I’m 5’4”, 82 kgs, BMI…. 30.9 – Obese.  I just searched BMI Calculator and the first result is from a web doctor who offers the advice – “If you are having issues losing weight, prescription medication can sometimes help”. I don’t think this is good starting advice for someone worried about their weight. The last time a doctor offered me advice, I was 13 and I was promised diabetes if I didn’t lose weight. I’m not sure if that was advice or a threat but it only served to annoy me. However, I can’t keep ignoring the issue at hand and it’s time to consider the advice available.

I have actually managed to achieve a healthy weight twice – once when I was 15 living with my older sister in Germany for 3 months and I walked and I cycled and I had dinner at the local school at midday. The second time when I was pregnant and aware of my high risk for developing gestational diabetes which would in turn affect my unborn child. So I know that a healthy diet, exercise and a strong motivator will help me lose weight. As a physiotherapist I know the exercise guidelines that will help me to achieve my goal.

If you asked me for advice, as a physiotherapist, I would say healthy eating is important in combination with exercise. It is equally vital that you work on your goal with a plan that will work with your daily life. Don’t set unrealistic goals of going jogging for an hour in the morning if you have two small children and no childminder. Instead, could you go for a fast paced walk with the children in a buggy? Would you be interested in monitoring your steps with your smart phone or a pedometer? You could join a group or get a friend involved so you can challenge and motivate each other.

So I have all the tools – the education, the runners, lucky me – my husband is an excellent cook – where am I going wrong? Why am I unable to motivate myself to put these tools together and achieve my goal?? Pure indulgence. I love getting out for a walk – a slow meandering walk, looking around at nature and enjoying the sun. I even love a good stroll in the rain. In particular I love food – it’s preparation, the flavours – the sweet, the sour, the salty. Apparently I have a happy dance whereby I stand at the treat cupboard and shake my booty while I mull over the options. If I sit still I want food.  No food and I get “hangry”.

I need to find my motivation to override these indulgences and I need help to do that. I have reached a point now where I want the help to do this because I don’t want my two beautiful children to jump on this downward slide toward obesity that I am now in a heap at the bottom of. Just two years of age, my son wants to run as fast as he can and climb fences and jump on the bed. At 6 months my daughter has completed her instinctive programme of vertical leg sit ups to develop her core so she can roll onto her tummy independently to practice the plank. They are hardwired to be active and strong and I want to join them. I sincerely do not want to discourage them and soon I may not be able to keep up. Motivation? Absolutely.

I know that this waning sugar hit has long term devastating effects. Repeated sugar abuse could cause diabetes, which in turn leaves my body with high levels of glucose and after a while this will likely damage my brain potentially leading to vascular dementia. It really isn’t just a simple sugar hit at the end of the day and I am ready to recognise this truth.

I believe by publishing this that it will impress a certain accountability upon me to take part in meaningful exercise and adopt a healthier approach to snacking. I have signed up for the UCD healthy challenge with 5 of my colleagues and hot damn they are motivated. Wish me luck!!