Thursday 27 November 2014

Gastric Band - the only solution doctors can come up with

"The procedures could leave the already strained NHS with a £12BILLION bill"

Eating disorders exist in developed countries where food is abundant. There is not an obesity problem in countries where food is scarce. Anorexia is a psychological problem. Obesity is also a psychological problem.

For someone to consider surgery a practical and sensible choice instantly identifies them as having a mental illness. For a person to be unable to recognise their growing body fat, or diminishing body weight identifies a mental illness involving delusion and a self-perception misfire in the brain.

Eating disorders are a symptom of societies with food abundance. Abundance of food products that are processed and produced in what look more like laboratories rather than kitchens. The over fat and the under weight are not part of any social group. Many are successful in life and work and education. Many have otherwise productive lives. It is not an illness of the ignorant or the uneducated.
Eating disorders are a pyschological mental illness. In short, the person is so compelled to eat, or starve, that the sense in what they are doing is pushed aside. Sense, that is, in terms of the risk to their existence. Deliberately starving yourself is only going to end badly. Over eating, sooner or later, is only going to end badly. Even if it doesn't end badly, the path to the end is an uncomfortable path.

The gastric band stops food from entering the guts, as far as I know. People feel fuller quicker when they eat. This curbs appetite and thus intake of calorie volumes. So it is probably fair to say that it works. And the return on investment may be a viable argument too. Nip it in the bud now, and save on monstrous medical bills when that patient becomes the long term sick.

The fact remains, however, that a doctor recommending surgery for a psychological disorder is akin to the archaic practise of electric shock treatment in asylums in previous centuries.

In my experience of mental health the only thing doctors are good at is dishing out drugs. Uppers, downers and all sorts of other poisons that turn thinking people into stoned zombies. Indeed, there was a time when amphetamines were dished out as appetite suppressants.

Friday 14 November 2014

Exercise fads - choose one, join in or miss out?

Well into November and after a month of deep diving into the murky waters of twitter and facebook, I amassed a plethora of health options to the left, right and centre. You can't walk past a park or a church hall without seeing people bouncing, bopping, flipping flopping in all directions.
"Here, our Denise, I've just been to this new ZigZag Workout down at the church hall? Its amazing!"
They come and go faster than a politician's reputation, so you have to be quick! A good craze passes like the change of the weather, and you will be yesterday's news.
Another day, another workout craze. People report proven results from their latest workout craze. Zumba? Remember that? Insanity? Had a go at that yet? What about CrossFit? Have you entered a team event cross country mud race yet? Boot camp? Specialist Yoga? Does anyone still have a Jane Fonda workout video working that butt? My legs still hurt from a BodyPump class in 2007.
But are any of them any better than the rest? Really?
As Jason Vale says "The workout that works is the workout you do." So if you're a single mum and you can't get to the gym, lift your baby out the pram and push out 50 squats. You'll soon see the results. Don't feel left out. There will be another craze just around the corner. Keep yourself trim in the meantime.

If you think about it, people exercised and kept fit long before any of these fitness fad brands were conceived. They seemingly provide the answer where none lay before. They are exciting, stimulating, and alternative to the gym and sports, and they get results. Moreover, they are addictive, and stickability is the toughest thing to conquer. Shoe-horning an hour of sweating and panting into our busy schedules without upsetting, leaving out, or being ridiculed by, anyone else is the main challenge. Who would have thought that doing one hour's exercise would upset so many people?
Importantly, these fads do not re-invent the wheel. You're still bones and organs and muscle, and as long as you keep using these bits of you, they will stay in good shape.

Enjoying fitness is the key. Either enjoying the results so much it simply must be done. Or enjoying the workout class for its social aspect and group spirit. We become habitual exercisers, followers, disciples, advocates. The days of buying an exercise bike and doing 40 minutes in the box room are, surely now, dead ends. Uninspiring, boring and repetitive. Or are they? Some people still do this and continue to produce great results. Each to their own. But until you find your special addiction to your preferred workout cult, never be afraid to try something new. Try something new all the time. It will either go flat quickly, or you'll be invigorated by the experience, feel pride in yourself for giving it a go and overcoming fear, and you will probably look forward to doing it again.
Just turn off the TV, put down the tablet, put on your trainers, and go for a walk. Start today, or tomorrow.... Just start.

Paul Richardson small groups personal training - see more