So, your mates are boasting that their new year’s resolutions are to take up transcendental meditation, meet Megan McKenzie, learn origami and hike through Nepal. Let them. To make a huge difference to your health, you really need to do only two – stop smoking and lose weight.
Firstly, there’s smoking. If you’re still one of the three human beings who thinks smoking looks sexy (The other two are tobacco sales reps), rest assured that it doesn’t. It’s more likely that you’ve tried quitting and failed.
While tobacco is hugely addictive, it’s also possible to quit. If sheer willpower isn’t enough, try anything that works: tobacco patches, acupuncture, support groups – anything.
Some people have managed to quit successfully after cleaning their curtains, bed linen, curtains and clothes, ridding them of the tobacco smells which can trigger nicotine cravings.
Having stubbed out your greatest vice, you may also need to lose weight.
With obesity the fastest growing health problem in the western world, men are still far more reluctant to seek help in losing weight than women. In the UK for instance, just one percent of obese people seeking help are men.
Drop your trouser size
If you take trousers bigger than size 36, it’s likely you have an increased risk of heart disease. Bigger than size 40, and you’re in real danger.
Losing just 10 kilograms will decrease your risk of heart disease by about 10 percent. It’s a fairly simple, but important equation.
South Africa’s traditional diet is rich in red meat and animal fats. Even though many blokes now squeeze themselves into gym outfits and flail away at exercise bikes, our average waistline is still spreading faster than rumours about who caused the depreciation of the Rand.
You can’t do much about the exchange rate or the weight of the nation, but you can drop your own trouser size and in doing so, increase the length and quality of your life. If you’re really sick of being mistaken for a seal, make weight loss your major goal for 2002.
Sign up a gym, enlist the help of a personal trainer or a mate who’s in similar shape to you. Start slowly, but increase the duration of your workouts steadily.
Keep going. Many people lament the number of times they started a gym programme, then dropped out. This is particularly true over the festive season.
Eat a varied diet with lots of pasta and fresh veggies and fruit, drink copious amounts of water and get plenty of sleep. It may take a few months, but you’ll lose weight. You’ll feel better almost immediately. And it the next few months you might even meet Megan McKenzie before your mates do. - (William Smook)