Chewing the fat

IN WELL over a century, we have become very effective at fattening stock.

It seems our families and friends were next on the hit list, with rural and regional obesity at double the rates you'll find in the city.

Unfortunately, marbling is one of the few luxuries cattle can boast over us, so our weight gain is fat, dished out in large concentrations to frustratingly obvious areas.

Which then brings in a feast of other health issues.

Now I won't lecture you on the important, but bland, topics around the strains on local healthcare that our heavy friends induce.

But I am going to throw some ideas around that will get you briskly walking from the house to the shed, and leaving the quad bike where it is!

Most of us know that in general, men put on weight in different areas of the body to women.

Women store their fat in rather obvious areas, whereas men develop the infamous "beer belly". This tight, almost shiny rotund barrel is often a source of pride, makes slipping on boots preferable to tying up shoe laces and has its own jokes that reference a "six-pack", of the muscle kind – now, just a dream.

On a serious note, aside from the obvious, what is actually going on in there?

So picture a male you know who's belly is pre-natal in shape. How can that tummy be so tight?

Unlike his man-boobs, it doesn't wobble and jiggle...

The reason is because his heart, liver and other vitals are encased in fat. His organs no longer have their typical shape and now look like neglected three-year-old round bales wrapped in white silage wrap.

With all these fat-encased organs, there's no room, so it inflates his tummy. This is why he loses his breath when bending over, his guts are squashing his diaphragm and lungs. Gross.

He also gets exhausted with physical activities as his heart and organs are working so much harder with that extra baggage.

And then one day, it's highly likely, heart attack.

Perhaps his pre-natal shaped belly requires more concern and while on pre-natal shapes, it's not just the blokes.

Over 65 per cent of women who gave birth in regional Victoria these past few years were overweight or obese and I hate to add more weight to the situation, but they also have to deal with several more pregnancy-related complications.

That said, with all this doom and gloom, I've always thought farmers to be an active bunch. Especially in comparison to places I've seen in Europe and the US. But we are getting fatter, especially in the country.

We know it's a combination of food and exercise, and most experts say food is the biggest issue, yet it's the easiest place to start.

Whatever it is for you, or someone close to you, work it out; call a nutritionist, sign up with a diet company, go to a gym.

Expect to be told NOT to eat the tails on your lamb chops, but don't let that deter you, also expect to be surprised with easy and delicious healthy food and snacks.

It just requires thinking outside the square and breaking habits, especially at the supermarket.

And while on food, we've all heard Adelle Davis's famous quote, "Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dinner like a Pauper". This is as true now as it was when she said it back in the 1930s.

In most cases, your body doesn't need the large evening meal you feed it, it doesn't burn it, it stores it.

I'm no expert, but let's put a focus on the man pictured above, who you so cruelly picked on, to get his liveweight down. Because I bet you the only time he thinks about it is in the hours that follow his annual check-up at the local GP.

Also, you'll really notice exercise is great for mental health too, depression being a big factor in overweight people.

If none of that motivates you, perhaps think about life... and then ask yourself; how many elderly fat people do you see?

  • Sam Trethewey is a third generation farmer, who now runs his own farm coaching business.
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    Get MuddyTo think clearly in farming and about farming, you need to get muddy - commit, roll up your sleeves and get involved. SAM TRETHEWEY gets stuck into some of the issues facing those on the land.

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