Many people suffer the condition I call “Skinny-Body-Fat-Heart”, whether they are, in fact, slim or not.
Some even feel that with wealth and age, there is good reason to “fatten up”. Someone even once told me, 'As an African woman, if you don’t have our "signature voluptuous African figure", you are considered unattractive.' In fact, when I spent a few months on a work engagement in Cross River State, and the cook at the guesthouse I lived in seemed to be on a mission to get me fat. When I gained a few pounds, her first comment to me was “Aha, now you are looking take-away!”
In a world where the occurrence of health issues such as obesity, diabetes and cancer are on the rise, we have to be very careful. The common saying goes, “You are what you eat”. Today, we are exposed to so many toxic conditions, which is why these death-threatening illnesses are on the rise, especially amongst younger generations.
Sometimes, it seems like we pay very little attention to these issues. For example, the use of dangerous carcinogenic chemical additives in foods to preserve and fortify them with taste; genetically modified food with unknown protein structures; and fast food and junk food, which have high fat and sugar content. Even the air we breathe and the water we drink could expose us to all other sorts of environmental pollution.
We really need to focus on this issue of health and fitness because they form the basic starting point of the journey that will sustain our wellbeing in the future. It is very interesting to think that the British size 10 lady today is an equivalent size 14 of the 1970s? OUR WAISTLINES ARE EXPANDING and SIZE INFLATION is on the rise!
We have to start thinking less in the moment, enjoying limitless small chops and snacks as part of our daily diets, and start thinking about the long tem implications of all we subject our bodies to in terms of what we eat and our level of physical activity.
After all, don’t we all desire to live long without discomfort, or being a burden to people taking care of us at old age? Don’t we want our children to be healthy right from birth? Don’t we want to walk up the staircase, and not feel like our hearts and lungs are about to explode when we get to the top?
Making better choices now could be viewed as an investment into our future. For example, simple changes like drinking more water and less sugar-packed soft drinks; adding more fruits and vegetables to our diets; taking out the "bad" fat and sugar from our diets would go a long way.
We should also endeavour to go as natural as possible. After all, we have been blessed with amazing agriculture in Nigeria; let’s appreciate and benefit from this.
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Additionally, we could turn down the heat when we cook. Cooking at very high temperatures, first of all denatures the food hence diminishing the nutritional content. Secondly, it leads to the formation of acrylamides, a culprit of cancer. So let’s watch out for the over-fried small chops we cannot seem to avoid at Owambe events.
We also need to start involving ourselves in more cardiovascular activities and avoid the sedentary lifestyle of sitting down at home with our eyes glued to the television, computers, video games and Ipads. We can make gradual changes like taking the stairs rather than lifts once in a while or even get the whole family involved in a calm evening stroll.
It doesn’t have to be as intense as going to the gym for two hours a day, seven days a week like the celebrities (Really, that's pretty much part of their job description anyway). Let's just do what we're capable of and listen to our bodies.
We must be aware that our outer appearance is really not very indicative of our internal health, and we desperately have to start paying more attention to what we put into our bodies and our level of physical fitness.
Do you have the skinny-body-fat-heart mentality? WATCH OUT! Let's not allow the careless choices of today negatively impact our future!
Written by Oyin Egbeyemi
Oyin Egbeyemi is an engineer-turned-consultant-turned-educationist, runner and writer.