GENTLEMEN, we are at war.
We are at war every minute of every hour of every day.
We are at war, and yet too many of us believe we are so far from the front line that we can live our lives in complete denial of this most blatant of truths.
We have become complacent, lazy, cocky even. We take our health for granted, we let ourselves go, we pile on the pounds, all in the mistaken belief our call-up papers have got lost in the post and that we will never see active service.
However, there is no denying the distant rumbling of artillery. A day doesn’t go by without us hearing of the dead and the dying, whether it’s the headlines on the television news, the obituaries in the newspaper, a conversation with a neighbour, a phone call from a loved one.
While many of us shirk our duties, our foes never rest. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity; all launch ferocious attacks against us around the clock.
Seven out of ten men in the UK today are overweight or obese. Obesity levels in the UK have quadrupled in the last 40 years. In 1980, only 6% of British men were obese, but now that figure stands at one in four. Somehow, we’ve gone from winning two World Wars (and one World Cup if you’re English) to the Fat Man of Europe in a matter of generations.
Men over 40 are most likely to be carrying this onerous battle flag. In the 35-44 age group, 55% of men in the UK are either overweight or obese according to the latest figures from the NHS. Three-quarters of men aged 45-54 are overweight or obese and that figure rises to 82% of men aged 55-64.
Obesity causes 30,000 deaths in the UK every year. It cuts short the lives of both rank and file by an average of nine years. Compared with a man of healthy weight, an obese man is five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, three times more likely to develop cancer of the colon, and two-and-a-half times more likely to have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for stroke and cardiovascular disease. Seven million of us in the United Kingdom live with heart disease and 420 of us will die this very day after suffering a heart attack. Tomorrow, the same number will fall.
And here’s another frightening statistic. Every year, 9,000 Brits lose a toe, a foot, a lower limb, an entire leg, all to diabetes, as surely as if they had stepped on an IED in Helmand Province.
You may think obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and even cancer, are the inevitable consequences of getting old. Diseases that catch up with us all eventually. Not so. The 2015 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2015 (published in The Lancet) found that 70% of all deaths are down to poor diet and lifestyle choices.
That’s worth repeating. 70% of all deaths are the result of poor diet and lifestyle choices.
Gentlemen, be in no doubt. We are at war, and not in some far-flung corner of a foreign field that is forever England. As Fatboy Slim would tell you, we are at war right here, right now.
Do not go over the top until you read this
All attempts to get back into shape begin with good intentions. In fact, men being men, we begin with great intentions! We’re going to eat only rabbit food, run the next available marathon, give up drinking, and get into that pair of old school trousers for the upcoming reunion. All on day one.
The problem is trying to do everything at once dooms us to failure. Within a few days we’re back down the pub, giving it the “I could have been a contender” after one pint too many.
So keen are we to go over the top, that we charge headlong into the unknown with with minimal intel and without completing basic training. Those great intentions to lose weight and to be fighting fit find themselves in the Valley of Death where our enemies put paid to them.
Being ill-prepared to wage war isn't your first mistake, however.
Your first and biggest mistake, my friend, is in focusing your fire on losing weight.
Weight is not your enemy.
The real enemy is fat, and belly fat in particular.
Now you might think weight and fat are the same thing. A rose by any other name and all that. But weight and fat are not the same thing, and understanding this one simple truth is going to be a game changer in the battles ahead.
Fight the real enemy
In the words of the UFC’s Bruce Buffer, “It’s time!”
Time to take up arms in the Battle of the Bulge.
Time to take the fight to our enemies, all guns blazing.
So, today, we make our stand against belly fat.
I'm asking you to join other men over the age of 40 concerned about their weight, health and wellbeing. You will be enlisting to fight not only for the battle of your life, but what is truly the battle for your life.
I will not ask you to fight on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields, or in the streets. Our main theatre of war is much closer to home, much much closer. It’s slap bang in the middle of you.
We will fight on several fronts, but with one goal in mind: the demise of your belly.
Achieve that objective and you will have won your war because there is no greater threat to your wellbeing than your belly, no more dangerous fat on your body than abdominal fat.
Your current situation may seem forlorn, desperate even, but no matter. We each have our personal battles to fight, but we are now allies in this war against belly fat. We stand together, and together we will triumph.
Today, we begin to turn the tide so that a year from now each one of us can look back to the words of Winston Churchill and say, I too am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul, and I stand before an awe-struck world victorious.
A la guerra!
PS Some good news as you head to the front. No counting Calories! Counting Calories doesn't work for weight loss so it isn't part of our strategy for winning this war against belly fat. Eat better, not less
PPS If you are a vegan or want to buy vegan food to improve your health and wellbeing,Vegan Supermarket, will be right up your street!