In my now vast experience of working with thousands upon thousands of people as CEO of Ultimate Performance, I see the patterns and themes and trends in a way that no-one else in the world probably sees them.
There’s one single unifying feature behind successful weight-loss stories. They have a wake-up moment: “Aha, I can’t go on like this.”
Which is why the ‘healthy at every size’ movement is garbage. You’re not healthy at every size. “Oh, but you can be ill and underweight too.” Yeah, you can, so what? That’s whataboutery.
We’re not talking about anyone else. If you are overweight, you are more likely to die. The more overweight you are, the higher the likelihood of illness and the decrease in your quality of life.
This is incontrovertible fact, no matter which way anyone spins it. We have the saying, ‘morbid obesity’ (morbid, meaning death) for a reason.
A lot of people are slowly and insidiously killing themselves. And it is our public responsibility, it’s the government’s responsibility, and it’s health professionals’ responsibility to tell people the truth.
What we must remember is, there’s a difference between going: “I’m going to tell you the truth and I’m going to do it in a compassionate way to help you figure out your problem.”
Versus: “I’m going to tell you the truth be an a*****e about it.” People seem to think you can’t tell people the truth without being compassionate.
We live in a polarised world where facts are not as important as feelings. Now of course, feelings do count, but they’re still not as important as facts.
At the end of the day, you’re going to feel better about yourself in the long-term if you do something about it, as opposed to going: “No, no, no. Accept me as I am.”
We can accept you, but we can’t accept that it’s healthy. The problem is that people conflate their entire being with their fatness, and it’s two separate things. We need to help them in a compassionate way.
Sadly, there are some people are just insidiously lazy. There are sloths, and there are gluttons. They sit there, they watch Netflix, they play the PlayStation, and they just get fatter and fatter and fatter, and they don’t give a sh*t. But they still deserve our help.
They’ve been caught in a trap, and they’ve been let down because they’ve been told by a small, but vocal, minority: “Oh it’s all right, it’s not your fault.”
No – it is your fault. But you shouldn’t be condemned either. You’ve got the power to change things.
If they understood the difference between how they feel now, and how they could feel if they lost just 14lbs.
Lose 5kg and you start to feel better. If you’re overweight and you lose 5kg, your blood pressure changes. Fact. And given that high blood pressure is the number-one silent killer for men, that’s got to be a good thing right?
So, this is where it becomes about education. The difficulty that we have from a public health policy perspective is the government can only do big, broad-brushstroke measures, and they’ll get a lot of pushback if they raise the price of cheap food.
If you make food more expensive, if you make cheap food more expensive, the people in the lower strata of society who are already struggling economically, are going to struggle to afford food, unless you make good food less expensive.
When I was growing up, we never had the mass availability of food. If you ask your grandparents what they remember about food during the Second World War, they’ll probably say: “Don’t remember much, I just remember being hungry.”
I was from a generation of ‘waste not, want not’. ‘Finish what’s on your plate’. I don’t think that generation exists anymore.
In my day, you might get one chocolate biscuit after a Sunday meal. That was the extent of it, and that was your kind of typical, aspirational, working-class Yorkshire family in the ’70s and the ’80s. Nowadays, the unfettered access to junk food is a real problem.
For governments, it is a very tricky proposition to combat. And in my view, the only way to address it is, you’re going to have to tax.
You’re going to have to make it harder, but if you make it harder, how do you make good food more accessible? How do you balance those two out?
This is real government intervention there, and real government intervention becomes very problematic.
I do believe the Government wants to tackle the obesity problem and find that silver bullet. Does it mean that they’re going to find it? Does it mean they’re looking in the right places?
No. Last year, they had an obesity ‘tsar’. And this guy published a white paper and the headline that he allowed to come out of it, the leading paragraph, was about how exercise doesn’t do anything for weight loss. B******s.
The physiological and hormonal improvements that one gets from exercise, the mental benefits that one gets from exercise, enable you to live a healthier lifestyle.
They set you up for success, for living a healthier lifestyle, for eating better. They reduce the risk of cravings, and all those kind of things. So, the Government is speaking to the wrong people.