What You Can Do About Your Modern Day Life Making You Fat

Life these days in many ways is much easier than it was before.

We have convenient ready-cooked or prepared meals available, automatic washing machines, remote everything, the internet and mobile phones. We have cars and public transport, updates from around the world on absolutely anything we need to know.  Information is available on any topic 24/7.

You can buy food ready to eat on almost every corner, or if you like to ‘cook’, you can buy edibles in boxes, jars, packets and containers that simply require the addition of 1 or 2 ingredients or just some heating up and viola, a ready to eat meal or snack done with hardly any effort at all.  You can even buy food-like substances in bar form meaning no preparation required at all.  Just open the wrapper and consume.

The downside to all this is that we are much less active, we generally work more in our paid jobs, we do less stuff like housework, gardening and mowing the lawn and we certainly commute in less active ways.

In fact, most of us have to set aside time to ‘be active’ such as attending an organised training session (such as those we run at FitterFaster) or ‘going for a run or walk’ simply for the exercise.

Other lifestyle factors contributing to your excess body fat are:

  • You’re chronically stressed
  • You don’t get enough sleep
  • You sit down too much

Combined with the factors mentioned above:

  • Not being active enough every day
  • Eating less than ideal food because it’s easier/faster/more convenient

But all is not lost.  There are lots of things you can do to ensure that your modern lifestyle has the lowest impact possible when it comes to storing excess fat or stopping you from getting rid of it.

Not being active enough

Inactivity will cause more deaths this year than smoking
Inactivity will cause more deaths this year than smoking

The most obvious way to make a difference here is to start some type of exercise routine.  It could be a daily walk or jog (or combo), using and exercise video in your own home, using a downloaded training routine at home or outside or attending organised fitness such as classes and training sessions or Personal training offered at fitness centres, gyms or by personal trainers.

What is less obvious, despite being pointed out to us regularly over the past 10-15 years, is just being more active in the things we do every day.

Could you walk to work?  Really?  Are you that far from your workplace?  I remember walking to work regularly in my younger days in high heels and my skirt-suit.  I could easily have driven (and did if it was raining) but it only took about 20 minutes each way and was an enjoyable part of my day – I have a strange thing about checking out peoples’ gardens.  I still do it now.

If you really do live too far away to walk, could you park further away and walk a few blocks?  Could you carpool with someone close by and at least walk to their place?  Could you get off the tram or bus a few stops early?  Adding 20 or more minutes of walking into your day really makes a difference.

During the day, take the stairs, walk to other peoples’ offices instead of calling or emailing.  If you need to visit another workplace or the post office, walk there if you can.

Offer to do the coffee run and walk again.  There are lots of little ways you can add more activity into your day.

Eating lower quality food

Does your shopping trolley look like this?
Does your shopping trolley look like this?

This is a trap a lot of us fall into while we tell ourselves we are just too busy or tired to cook a meal from scratch.  But honestly, cooking meals at home really doesn’t take that long.

If you do a bit of preparation on the weekend, you can have meals partly or even fully made ahead of time which makes it even easier.

I’ve written about meal preparation and make ahead meals and snacks several times before.  Check out these posts for ideas on being organised and for different meals you can make quickly or ahead of time.

Quick, easy and nutritious breakfast meals for those on the go

Meals and snacks you can prepare ahead 

More easy ways to have food prepared ahead of time

You sit too much

I solved this problem for myself in a few ways:

First, I purchased an adjustable desk.  My choice was a Varidesk which sits on top of the desk I had and is adjustable to a seated height or a standing height. I actually keep mine up at the highest setting and lots of my computer work standing now.

Secondly, I downloaded a timer and I make sure I stand up, walk around or do a quick set of squats about every 15 minutes.  Yep, that often.  It takes a minute or 2 at the most and I found that once every hour or so just wasn’t often enough.  Getting up out of my seat clears my head as well and I’m more focused as well as the health benefits of getting out of the seated position regularly.

You’re chronically stressed or you don’t sleep enough

Do you feel like this from time to time?
Do you feel like this from time to time?

I’ve put these 2 together as often (but not always) they go hand in hand.

A lack of quality sleep means automatically that your CNS system is being overly stressed, so the first stop here is to make sure you’re getting an absolute minimum of 7 hours good sleep each night.

Ways to make this happen for you include:

  • Going to bed earlier – duh!  Obvious but not as easy as it sounds.  Get into a routine.  Having the same bedtime and wake time each day really helps with falling asleep more easily and having more restful sleep.  If you’re in the habit of going to bed too late, setting an alarm to tell yourself it’s time for bed now is one thing that works for some of my clients.  Slowly bring your bedtime forward by 15 minutes or so each week till you’re actually going at a decent time.  The old wives saying of every hour before midnight is worth 2 hours after midnight is true.  It’s all to do with our bodies natural cycles and rhythms.  So sleeping 7 hours from 9.30pm – 4.30am is much more effective than 7 hours from midnight to 7 am.  Heck, if you’re managing to get to bed at 9.30pm, you can probably easily get 8 hours or more.  Unless you get up at 4.30am like me!
  • Turn off your gadgets and screens at least 30 minutes before bed time.  This is vital.  The light emitted from your screens will stop you from falling asleep quickly.  Just make it a habit not to have your phone, tablet or computer on after 8.30pm.

Chronic stress is a major factor in our society generally being fatter than it was a decade ago.  A stressed body and mind doesn’t just make it hard to make good food choices or to have enough energy to do some exercise.

No, it’s much deeper than that.  On a cellular level, a body that is stressed all the time produces hormones that inhibit fat burning and cause more fat to be stored regardless of what you’re eating or if you’re training.

This is so common even in some of my clients.  They eat really well, they train hard and consistently, but they neglect the recovery and stress reducing side of things and wonder why results are so hard to achieve.

Read this article for awesome ways to reduce stress and to even recognise if you are chronically stressed – I bet you are.

Stress management- find out if you’re stressed and what to do about it

The above article is quite lengthy, but set aside 30 minutes to work through the questions (I think you’ll see yourself in some of the signs of chronic stress) and then read the very practical ways to start coping better.

You’ll see a difference in your results by following all the steps above, and really, there’s nothing there that you cannot do.