My inspiration for writing this article came from a documentary I watched about a decade ago. The documentary explained how urban Argentinians from upper-middle class Buenos Aires tended to be fit and in shape while those in the Barrio ie ghetto were often on the larger side. Although this seems to go against our logical reasoning, there are a range of reasons why this is the case in rapidly developing as well as developed countries.
Although I mentioned Argentina, I have to stress that here in the western world, we are not immune to this either. Here in Australia there is a noticeable difference in the proportion of overweight people in the more affluent inner city suburbs and the less affluent outer suburban areas where peoples’ socioeconomic status are presumably lower.
Just like in the Argentinian example, those in the latter category tend to have a “higher gravitational pull index”. And when I talk to fellow fitness motivators in North America and Europe, they also seem to observe the same thing in their state or province.
To be honest, I strongly believe that your approach to weight loss and getting in shape will have to differ depending on which area you live in. You have to actually understand specific sociocultural forces in your own environment so that you can channel the right motivation and drive towards a plan that is more likely to succeed.
But before that, let us first explore between inner city and outer suburban environments and how it may affect peoples’ weights. NOTE: These are ONLY generalisations – it might or might not apply to your hood specifically. There are so many cultural and social elements involved in each local area that analysing beyond the surface will be difficult.
Firstly, there is growing acceptance amongst health professionals that stress can contribute to weight gain. Both inner city corporate highflyers and poverty-stricken outer suburbanites are exposed to stresses, but of a different nature. Inner city white collar folk are exposed to work stress, leading to poor eating habits due to being overworked or being under pressure. Outer suburban folk who are unemployed or struggling financially would be under pressure to ensure their families are fed. Both phenomena can lead to weight gain.
Another factor that we have to explore is dietary. In general, more affluent inner city folk are not only able to afford nutritious foods and “superfoods”, they are also often more mindful about healthy eating. Conversely, those living in the outer suburbs might often have to settle for more economical options. Unfortunately these tend to be unhealthy.
In western countries, this would be the fast food joints that often engage in price wars with one another. In the Argentinian example, it happens to be deep-fried potatoes from their local economy. Back to the western world example, stores and supermarkets tend to charge more for pre-packaged salads than their less healthy counterparts.
As we all know, exercise plays a role in general weight management. While there are gyms in inner city and outer suburbs, inner city gyms are probably more accessible due to its population density from the high-rise apartments. In the outer suburbs, it takes a fair amount of effort just to get to the gym. In the extreme cases of outer suburbanites who are struggling to make a living, having access to the gym is not only of secondary importance, a gym membership also drains their already-stretched budget.
The next point I have is rooted in psychology. Corporate socialites and affluent yuppies are often aware of their social status and mingle with people of a similar “class”. While some might accuse them of being pretentious, the reality of such social circles is that comparisons and judgments of one another is the norm. As such, they would make an extra effort to get in shape so that it goes well with their attire, image and social status. Those in the outer suburbs might not face such pressure, as they take pride in other areas of their lives which do not put pressure on them to be thin.
Finally, the last point that I have would be education and awareness. A highly-educated inner city socialite might spend more time reading the news and therefore getting more bombarded with health-related messages. Over time, it is inevitable that they would gain a general understanding about the importance of good health and why a long-term approach is needed.
Outer suburb folks may be a little more relaxed, less paranoid, less hypochondriac-ish, and more reactive rather than proactive when it comes to health matters. As such they may require a trigger event such as being hospitalised or being told by their doctor about how their health is suffering to prompt them into taking action and start living healthily.
So now that we have explored a few of the factors involved, what are my recommendations for the inner city socialite and the rural suburbanite?
If you fall in the more affluent “inner city” category, I don’t need to remind you that you are not immune to having a poor body image. If you are overweight, I urge you not to let the social pressure be the key motivator for losing weight. This might sound counter-intuitive, but I want you to have a desire to get healthy because you love your body and want the best for it, not because you hate your body.
You also have to be smart about your weight loss approach. Perhaps the social pressure has prompted you to take shortcuts such as pills and powders. What happens when your access to them suddenly gets cut off? You should wean yourself from such dependency and instead put in some effort to educate yourself about it. Do the math and you realise that the latter approach is more cost-effective. The Granite Fitness Solution will give you a good education on psychology, nutrition and fitness – think of it as a long-term investment that will produce lifelong dividends when it comes to being of a healthy weight.
If you are of a lower socioeconomic status and struggling to make ends meet, your approach will be different. You know that deep down in your heart, your struggle is to break out of the poverty cycle and establish some stability in life. Even if you do find a practical solution to your woes, it is not enough. It is just as difficult to have the discipline and motivation to stick to the plan. This is where most people fail and end up being trapped in the cycle.
You have to start somewhere. My suggestion is that if you are not taking action anyway due to lack of motivation, getting in shape would be a good starting point. You see, a good diet and exercise program will get you fit and give you the energy to be motivated and take action in other areas of your life. The confidence boost that comes along with a fit physique will further motivate you. The Granite Fitness Solution will guide you towards your goals. And if you think about the long-term, it is more cost-effective than those pills and powders that your commission-hungry sales-people friends are mindlessly peddling to you!
Once again, I must stress that what was written in this article is a generalisation that might not apply to you specifically. I believe in honesty and speaking from the heart, even if the truth hurts to some people. I also think that those who will hate on me for speaking my heart may be in denial themselves. And we all know that admitting the existence of a problem is the first step to breaking out of it.
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Mark is an all-rounded guy with dreams, aspirations, and a desire to be a better version of himself. Having conquered obesity, he set-up Granite Fitness to help regular people get in shape and stay healthy. Mark spends his days helping distressed Uni students through difficult situations. He holds three science degrees and a Diploma of Christian counselling. In his spare time, Mark does freelancing and runs a series of online operations with his business partner Atanas. Connect with Mark @ http://au.linkedin.com/in/marksptan