Sunday 22 January 2012

Now men are becoming weight obsessed!

I was reading a feature in yesterday's Times about how more and more men are becoming worried about their weight and taking up dieting.

There was a time when dieting and weight issues was something only women worried about. For some men there was a certain pride in developing a middle aged beer gut.

Its all changed now. 10 years ago the biggest selling mens magazines were lads mags like FHM and Loaded - today it's Men's Health.

These days I'm constantly hearing both men and women talk about their weight and how supposedly 'fat' they are. Going on about calories, BMI, and how eating a bar of chocolate will require two extra sessions of the gym this week!

Don't ask me about calories. If you tell me how many calories were in the last meal you ate, I will only stare at you blankly. It will mean nothing to me.

Are people becoming too obsessed with weight? For me it's all about having a balanced diet, eating in moderation, doing regular exercise and having a healthy attitude towards food.

Am I being naive in saying that?

I have to admit, I don't worry about my weight. I'm one of those annoying people that's always eaten whatever I like in the knowledge that I'm never going to put weight on.

In saying that, it's not as if I stuff myself with junk food everyday. I do have a lifelong addiction to biscuits (love my bourbon creams) but generally I eat pretty well.

I know I have a good metabolism and nobody in my family is overweight. I've always played sport, and play badminton every week which I've done for the last 7 years.

It's good that more and more people, particularly men are becoming aware of healthy diets and watching their weight but there's no reason to become obsessed about it.

Obesity is very much a modern problem only found in rich Western countries, especially in America and here in the UK.

Being overweight and dieting are closely linked to the lifestyle people lead, the culture of the society they live in, and people's own individual attitude and relationship towards food.

Last year I read an interesting theory that said one of the reasons so many Americans are fat is that they watch the most amount of television of any Western country. It was a good point. Lots of people sitting around stationary eating food whilst watching tv. It makes sense. That's a lifestyle issue.

Then there's people's personal relationships with food. Food can be used in a similar way to drugs or alcohol were people eat to deal with emotional or psychological problems - which again can be caused by external factors to do with the culture or society they live in.

There's never been a point in human history, where so many people haven't had to worry about the scarcity of food.

Many of us will never know what it's like to be truly hungry, but now people are made to feel guilty about eating too much, and when they do put on some weight some of which is only to be expected as we get older - they're told that this extra weight is making them ugly, unattractive failures.

There are too many conflicting messages from society and the media about body image, which have tended to affect women the most but it seems its starting to affect men as well.

Thankfully I have a good self body image and I'm determined to keep it that way. Being genuinely obese obviously poses serious health issues, but we don't have to start living like an athlete in training for the Olympics.

Keep things in perspective is my advice, but if you disagree with anything I've said then please tell me why.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

The Wikipedia blackout

Did you have a look at Wikipedia today?

If you did, you wouldn't have seen anything. You may have heard that Wikipedia had a blackout today and shut down in protest against the Stop online privacy act otherwise known as SOPA.

Those protesting against the proposed US legislation argue that if passed it would strike a blow against free speech on the internet and set a precedent for internet censorship.

I'm instinctively against the proposals set out in SOPA, and I genuinely support Wikipedia's actions, but I understand why this legislation is being proposed.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that I'm quite conflicted on the issues at stake.

There's no denying that the film and music industries are suffering due to the power of the internet.

These industries want to find ways for copyright holders (artists/media companies) to stop websites accused of containing illegal films, music and TV programmes, distributing this content for free to web users.

For example if this Bill is passed, you could have clips from a Hollywood film uploaded onto Youtube. SOPA could have those clips removed but could also bring about action against Youtube for allowing those clips to be made available on its site.

I understand why media companies want to do this. Last year I read this article in the Guardian entitled: "How the internet has all but destroyed the market for films, music and newspapers".

As you can guess from the title, it talks about how the internet and online piracy have all but destroyed the culture industries. Film, music, newspapers, they're all suffering a slow and painful death!

The old businesses models for these industries are collapsing as companies struggle to survive due to falling revenues, caused by piracy and the free availability of so much content on the internet.

So I suppose I do have some sympathy with those major media companies in support of SOPA. They're the ones along with people like music artists and other media creators that are suffering by losing out in revenue.

When I say that, it's not because I want the big major media players to continue raking in huge profits, it's because I understand some of the profits made have to be reinvested within those industries, in order to help produce products of quality and value.

That thinking probably explains why I continue to buy CDs and newspapers. I understand that sometimes you have to pay money and invest in people and industries if you want to help create products and content of value.

I think I'm just confused, as I love the internet and the flow of information available, but I understand the problems facing the creative industries because of the internet.

The problem for the big media organisations is that they have to accept that the genie is out of the bottle. The old business model is dead and they can't go back to how things used to be. I understand the need to try and gain some profits from the content produced, but I don't think trying to impose restrictions on the internet that essentially amount to censorship is really the way forward.

It's a real tough one this. I am on the side of Wikipedia, but there are more questions and debates to be had on this topic, following today's actions.

Let me know what your thoughts are? I really would like to know other people's opinions.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

A long time coming

So finally after 18 long years Gary Dobson and David Norris were jailed for the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

I wasn't too sure I could really add anything more to what's already been said about the Lawrence murder trial. I suppose for me like many people, there's a sense of quiet satisfaction that justice has been done, even though its been too long in coming.

It's been a remarkable case that's been a part of the nation's conscious for so many years.

I've really admired and respected the drive and determination from Neville and Doreen Lawrence to never give up and seek justice for Stephen. Their conduct over the last 18 years has shown how tragic or extraordinary events can catapult ordinary people into positions where they can make a real difference in public life.

Although Stephen's death was a racist murder, his parents showed this wasn't something that only related to black people, this was a crime that everyone could identify with. They were two ordinary parents who'd seen their son murdered, and could see that the police weren't doing enough and justice wasn't being done.

To me it doesn't matter who you are or what background you come from, it's about what's right and wrong, what's fair and just.

Credit to the Daily Mail

One thing I've noticed today is that there's been a lot of credit going out to the Daily Mail in terms of its coverage of the case, and in particular its now famous 1997 front page, when it accused the 5 main suspects of being murderers.

The Mail gets a lot of stick from many people, and on a lot of occasions deservedly so, but credit must be given to the paper.

The Mail's coverage helped elevate the case to another level, in the sense that the Mail represents the views, aspirations and fears of 'Middle England'.

I've heard reliable stories in the past that say the Mail hasn't always been interested in the lives of Britain's ethnic minorities, but by championing the case it sent a message to its readers that this was a case that affected everyone.

Wow can't believe I'm bigging up the Daily Mail!

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Book Review: Career Renegade

At this time of year people start thinking about making new plans and goals for the New Year.

Traditionally it's New Year resolutions; People deciding they're going to quit smoking, lose weight, doing more exercise, blah blah blah. The problem is New Year resolutions rarely work.

I've always been told its better to have New Year goals, or specific things that you want to complete.

A typical new year goal is changing jobs or even careers. Perhaps you're bored with what you're doing. Maybe you've reached a glass ceiling and you can't progress any further in your current role.

Or maybe there's something you've always wanted to do and you've finally decided that next year is the year to do it.

If you're reading this and thinking 'Yes that's me! I want to to something different with my career' well I might just have the a book for you. It's called Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields and I've just finished reading it.

It's a great book if you're looking for ways of turning your passions into a more fulfilling career as well as making money from doing something you love.