Until recently, I hadn’t seen a doctor in about 15 years. I know you’re meant to develop a ‘relationship’ with your GP so that you’re comfortable baring all when health issues do inevitably arise, but (as is typical for blokes) it just hasn’t happened. The other things I’ve never concentrated too hard on are eating healthily and exercising. Heck, one of my first jobs was mystery-shopping and taste-testing for McDonalds. What hope was there for me? My addiction to fast food started there and then!
But, not so long ago, three influential women in my life (independently of each other) hit me over the head with the same message. My wife Nikki started making comments about my “unsexy” belly (ouch!). My radio producer Anne Debert said: “One day you will realise you need to start exercising.” And, finally, my mum gave me the clear and simple instruction: “Now that you’re 40, go to the doctor for a check-up!”
All of this coincided with 612 ABC Brisbane and Diabetes Queensland putting me, my fellow ABC radio presenters and 60 listeners on a 12-week Swap It, Don’t Stop It program. The timing couldn’t have been better.
So I went to the doctor. Relationship established – tick! But Nikki was right – I do need to lose some weight. The doctor wants me to get from 95kg to 85kg over two years. And so began Swap-It, Don’t Stop It.
Olympic gold medallist Duncan Armstrong is our chief motivator. Duncan recalls getting out of the pool at 25 and putting on 2kg a week for eight months: “My race-weight was about 82kg and I hit 123kg within eight months! People would look at me and say `I think that guy ate Duncan Armstrong and he hasn’t finished!’ I was that weight for about four or five years and it took me another two or three years to get it off.
“[The trouble is] our food is too good. Our lifestyle is too good. And so we partake in both. We need to change and tweak and swap one little thing at a time that will lead to big changes down the track.”
612 ABC Brisbane afternoon presenter Kelly Higgins-Devine says she’s been trying to reduce her waistline since 1983. From experience, she’s learned: “One step at a time. You’re not going to lose 30kg in a day, so don’t even think about it. It’ll be day by day by day and some days you’ll lie in bed and think `I’m not doing it today. I’m having a croissant.’ Have that croissant. But then get up the next day and go back, because we all fall over at some point.”
We’re now six weeks into the 12-week challenge and guess what? It’s working! My waist is down from 107cm to 99cm and I’ve lost 5kg. Doc, that 85kg is looking good! Here are some ideas to get you started on your own Swap It program.
Diabetes Queensland has a staff policy that if you can walk to your meeting within half an hour, you don’t get a cab voucher. Says CEO Michelle Trute: “All my staff have their sandshoes under their desks!” And Michelle has this advice for dog owners: “If you’re staring at your puppy and he’s looking a bit chunky, it might be better than a mirror! I know that when my labrador is looking heavy, so am I! Swap feed for lead. If your dog wants to be fed, get it on the lead and make it walk first!”
Here are some more swaps for you to consider: • Hang washing on the line ins tead of using the drier • Have rice-crackers instead of potato chips • Have soda water instead of s oft drink • Choose brown rice instead of white • Use a w ooden spoon, rather than an electric beater • Pace, don’t sit, whilst making a phone c all • Instead of emailing someone in the nex t office, go and see them.
Will I keep it up once the 12-week program is over? Perhaps I won’t be so obsessive (inevitable when you’re doing something so publicly and the pressure is on to show results), but there’s no doubt I’ve made changes that will stick. After six weeks, I don’t crave fast food. I’m barely eating chocolate. I’m walking much more. I’m eating much less. And I am seeing results. You should try it!