It’s the same every week; its 10am on a Sunday morning and I am giving waking up my best shot. In my attempts, I check my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds – just as my parents might be reading their morning papers. It doesn’t take long…
Post after post, unabashed online friends who declare their ‘‘perfect’’ Sunday mornings to be filled with delicious protein shakes, quick trips to Lorna Jane to buy new workout gear and ‘‘chilled’’ two hour gym sessions. The more I scroll, the more tired I feel. I doze back to sleep.
It’s undeniable; health is hot right now. While it would certainly be silly to suggest that this is a brand new trend, there seems to be a new take on what it means to live healthily. Moreover, fitness goals, weightless journeys and diet plans are no longer a personal thing. People don’t have to recruit gym buddies to keep them on track anymore. Instead, they look to their social media audiences who, whether the like it or not, serve as their motivators and their critics.
With obesity at an all-time high, such focus on healthy living is certainly not a bad thing. A recent study by Monash University in Melbourne has found that over 14 million Aussies are currently overweight. More than five million of these people are obese, meaning they have a BMI of over 30.
With our national population just shy of 23 million, these statistics show that almost two out of every three Australians are battling the bulge. The same study also predicts that Gen Y will experience a shorter life expectancy than their parents, simply because of obesity and the health issues that come along with it (think diabetes, cardiovascular disease and asthma).
These horrifying statistics make it clear that something needs to be done to address Australia’s (and the world’s) mounting obesity epidemic. With that said, diet and exercise fads come and go and it can be difficult to sift through the lot to find those that are worth trying. A few of this year’s most popular health approaches – the protein trend, the Paleo diet and eating clean - are outlined below. You be the judge of whether they seem healthy, sustainable and enjoyable (or not).
The protein trend
Of all the health crazes circulating at the moment, the protein-loving approach would have to be one of the biggest. Followers of this trend are not hard to spot: usually lurking around inner-city gyms drinking protein shakes, they are the guys (and the girls) whose bulging trap muscles seem somehow to be on level with the five-storey buildings surrounding them.
Once the domain of professional body builders, protein loading is now touted as an ideal and mainstream way to lose weight, build muscle and retain a healthy physique. By teaming protein-rich meals with intense weight-training sessions, protein-lovers aim to build muscle at the expense of body fat. Many also go through simultaneous periods of ‘’bulking’’ (carb-loading to build body mass) and ‘‘shredding’’ (carb-limiting to increase muscle) to achieve their desired results.
The Paleo diet, or Palaeolithic diet, is healthy living: cave-man style. It was developed by Dr. Loren Cordain who says “(the diet) was not designed by diet doctors, faddists or nutritionists, but by Mother Nature’s wisdom acting through evolution and natural selection.”
Those who follow the trend suggest that the key to wholesome living is sticking to a diet that is as close as possible to that of our hunter/gatherer ancestors. This means a lot of lean, protein-packed meat products, including poultry and fish, as well as vegetables, fruits and nuts. Dairy, grain products, sugar, salt, alcohol and processed foods are all big no-no’s. Paleo followers suggest the consumption of these foods is behind many of the health ailments that affect modern society including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Eating clean is a relatively new yet hugely popular approach to healthy living, especially so with young women. Canadian fitness model Tosca Reno, who has written 13 diet books, is often considered the founder of the trend. In her books, Tosca recommends drinking plenty of water and eating six small meals a day.
There are no real limits on the amount of food that you can eat, just limits on the types of food. Quite simply, the main rule of clean eating is to avoid packaged, processed and refined foods at all costs. Clean eating is popular with health program such as Michelle Bridge’s 12 Week Body Transformation. This program advises the use of the ‘‘clean eating’’ method in conjunction with visits to the gym. Their before and after shots are definitely impressive!