Have you ever blamed your environment for not being successful in your weight-loss efforts? Have you ever pointed accusingly at the local bakery that lets the yummy scent of freshly baked pastries hover freely over the pavement and make your mouth wet like Pavlov’s dogs? Have you ever watched the toned and tanned girls roller-skating on the sunny coast on TV, cursing the grey sky and showers that never stop in your city?
I you have, you might be one of the less lucky who live in cities which have come first in the “worst places to live in if you want to lose weight” competition. Winning an award in this contest is not only down to the high numbers of fast food restaurants (although this helps a lot for sure), there are further factors to consider.
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Who wants to go out for a jog if cold rain is pissing from the sky most of the time and you make one step forward and slide back two steps in the mud. I would definitely stay at home with a good movie and a bowl of crisps, or have a pint of beer in a warm and cosy pub. Cities in countries with only a few sunny hours and bad weather in general, tend to come higher in the fat-list. Sunshine attracts people outside for a walk or for a jog, ugly greyness sends them back inside. (And we haven’t talked about Vitamin D yet, see our detailed article here: Vitamin D Benefits for weight loss). Even though in cold weather our bodies burn more calories just for temperature maintenance, it won’t make up for sitting inside the house long term. Get outside, folks, and have a mud-throwing fun-fight!
1) Greyest city ever: London, UK.
2) Least sunny hours per year: anywhere in Iceland.
3) Most rainfall: Mobile, Alabama, USA.
It is quite hard and very dangerous to jump on the bike and ride it to work if there are no separate paths for this purpose. Just last week I heard a loud thump and saw a cyclist ending up on the windshield of a bus, he can thank his life for his helmet and the fact the bus was just about to accelerate at the green light. Likewise, if there are only dirt roads and no asphalt anywhere, I cannot roller-skate or ride my skateboard in peace, bumps will disrupt my fun all the time. Governments, give us a hand and some concrete space!
4) Shortest bicycle route: Adamstown, The Pitcairn Islands.
5) Record amount of dirt roads: Iborfia, Hungary.
Are you living in the middle of nowhere, with only a little local pub and a fruit market around? You hate running but are keen to lift some weights or go to a Zumba class, but there is just no such place in a 100 km radius? Would love to play basketball or football but there are mountains on the right and a deep pit on the left, and houses in between? It is hard to be good and fit if there is not a single gym around to give you the opportunity of having some fun exercise. Countries in poverty (where there is not a very high demand for luxuries) or more rural areas are usually the places where you need to rely on DVDs and Youtube to do some indoor training. That is much less motivating than a sporty community, though, where you are inspired by the old lady next to you who lifts more than you, and motivated by the instructor who shouts the hell out of you if you are not pushing it hard enough. Not all of us have the willpower or motivation to get fit on our own, but a fitness community in a gym or studio might give us the kick we need. Places with no gym at all:
6) Horqueta, Paraguay
7) Vatican City, Italy
Waking up in the morning, going out to the garden and fetching a fresh orange for the morning juice and some tomatoes as side for the scrambled egg breakfast is priceless. If you need to get into your car and buy some immaturely picked veggies in the supermarket, where canned and processed fake food is all over the place to distract you from the healthy options, you will have a bad time when measuring your weight on the scale. Nations with naturally and locally grown vegetables, fruits, seafood and animals to butcher are in a better position to live healthily and not to gain weight in the first place, whereas very modern, western metropolises are crammed with fast (aka fake) food restaurants, where you will hardly find anything natural and everything you can get smells and looks attractive, but bears no nutritional value whatsoever. These foods are only made from artificial ingredients and carry a lot of calories in the most unhealthiest and fattening combination (fats and carbs together).
One hamburger and a shake carries the same amount of calories as the daily intake of Juan Paolo in Spain, who will consume these calories in 3-4 separate meals from fish, veggies and fruits and also adds a glass of red wine at the end of the day. Jose will feel energised the whole day, won’t have cravings for food and will be in a good physical shape. On the contrary, inhabitants of cities like
8) Louisville, USA, where there is a top number of McDonalds
9) Orlando, USA, with the highest number of Burger Kings, Taco Bells, KFCs and Pizza Huts, respectively, and
10) Boston, USA, where you can buy Dunkin’ Doughnuts all over the place,
will face hardships when aiming for a slim body.
White or blue collar
When I was travelling in China, I spotted an interesting and slightly sad fact which was a very good lesson to learn. Proceeding from the rural, very poor towns towards Shanghai and Beijing, the average body weight and fat percentage of people was increasing accordingly (not to mention spots and oily skin on the face). There are many factors to consider here, but I blame the rising number of fast food restaurants (as per point 4 above) and the better paid office jobs in bigger cities. People who spend their entire day on the fields with hard physical work and have a tin of soup to eat in the evening are not likely to become obese apparently.
The rise of computers, machines and white collar positions deprived us from actually using our bodies, and the better salaries we get for using just our brains (if at all) give us the opportunity of eating more, and more often. A manager sits through the whole day, dashing from one meeting to another and eats sandwiches or a chocolate bar in between, starving by the end of the day when he will eat a generous warm meal and go to bed. This lifestyle is everything but healthy and if you take a good look around the table the next meeting you are in, you will mostly see middle-aged people with saggy skin, bags under the eyes, puffy face and a belly bubbling over the waist belt, which is already set to loose. Banking centres like
11) New York, London,
12) Hong Kong or
are cities where – if you are a white collar worker – may struggle a bit trying to find time for shedding the extra pounds.
In the past decade or so, media made the skinny look more fashionable than ever. If you want to be popular, famous or just simply not bullied, you need to be slim. Not going too deep into the difference between “skinny” and “slim” (I might just write another post about it), if you are living in a community where fashionable is in demand, you will be motivated to lose weight by the pressure society places on you. Whereas, if you are living in a healthy community where “fashion” as it is, is treated at its right place and not as a demand that has to be met by all means, you will more likely be more easy-going about your body and might tend to favour a good, fun meal with your friends on a night out than a piece of celery and a cocktail in a popular nightclub. People in the Mediterranean area tend to ignore fashion trends, which are not quite enjoyable so if you are living somewhere in Greece (which country topped the fat list in Europe) like
14) Athens, or in Italy (came second on the list of the most obese children in the world), let’s say
15) Bologna, there is a bigger chance you won’t be fussed about losing weight.
The Conclusion is
there are way too many circumstances to blame for your obesity, every place has its pros and cons. However, there is only one main factor: YOU. My advice is: stop blaming others (the weather, McDonalds, the neighbour’s dog) for not being in the best shape as YOU are solely responsible for your life. There are fit, slim people everywhere in the world, irrespective of the circumstances above. If you really want to do it, you will be able to do it! I do have faith in you! It is time you have a little faith in yourself, too! 😉