Normal is officially no longer normal

The tables have turned — obese people now make up over 70% of U.S. citizens and I suspect Canada isn’t much different. That means fit people, the 30%, are no longer ‘normal’. I think this is just tragic and in the long run very expensive in so many ways.

How did we get here?

Surely we did not want to choose to be unhealthy, at risk for more diseases, struggling to perform daily routines and constantly adapting to a larger and larger body. So what happened?

Food changed.

Not necessarily what we eat, but our access to healthy food (more expensive and only available in supermarkets or farm markets) and junk food (cheap and available everywhere). Plus our lives have become more and more busy, so time to prepare food is not there – which makes us look for quick, tasty solutions, whether they are healthy or not. Add to that the fact that food is less nutritious than it used to be due to fertilizer practices and GMO and we have a problem.

The average person is eating more and more calories with fewer and fewer nutrients. This is leading to obesity, heart disease, allergies, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, cancer and so much more. The cost of obesity is staggering. Health care costs, loss of work or unemployment due to physical ability or discrimination, etc.

Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Public Health Agency of Canada states that obesity costs Canada $4.6 to $7 billion a year for the reasons stated above. That is staggering!

So how do we correct this?

Exercise is the number one recommendation of course. Move your body and burn the calories consumed, and consume healthier calories. Easier said than done for some, because, as I said, junk food is cheaper, more readily available and located everywhere. I have a proposal to help with that but I have no idea how to get it put in place. Tax junk food and credit or subsidize healthy food. Let’s make junk food really expensive and healthy food really cheap. That could work to a point — you still have to eat an appropriate amount of healthy food (which is far easier than controlling junk food portions). It is really hard to tell parents trying to get by and feed a family that they need to double their food budget – so making healthy food cheaper seems like a great answer to me.

As for exercise and moving your body, well there are countless ways to do that.

I just finished my fifth Ironman distance race today and I always love being in the energy of all the triathletes. They are about 90% super fit and healthy and full of life and passion. I wish the rest of the world were like this group of people. I know that triathlon is not for everyone of course, but there are hundreds of other sports or games that involve getting fit as a byproduct. I really look forward to race season, because as it progresses, I get leaner and leaner and feel better and better about how I look and feel. Not only does it get me race ready but I get to my ideal body weight.

It always impresses me to watch triathletes in their 60’s or 70’s that look as fit as the 20 or 30-year-olds apart from some grey hair and wrinkles.

So what can you do to avoid being normal? I am not interested in normal, never have been, and am even less interested now.

Here’s to being unusually fit!

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.

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