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We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, with Coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeping the world. Governments are implementing measures to both control the spread of the disease and lessen the impact on the economy. People are panic buying at the supermarkets, trying to work from home, home-schooling their kids as well as disinfecting everything.

These are strange times indeed.

I’d like to share a personal story that I think has lessons for everyone. It’s a story of another worldwide catastrophe – the Global Financial Crisis (the GFC) of 2007-2008 and my mum; as well as a story of health and wellness that has impacted society in a positive way. A story that we can learn from in these unusual times.

As the world started to shut down in 2008 and the economy slowed, the then Australian government developed a stimulus package designed to encourage spending and stave off the recession. In short it went something like this: every one of the estimated 8.7 million Australian workers earning $100,000 or less would receive up to $950. Anyone earning $80,000 or less would be paid the full $950; people earning between $80,000 and $90,000 would get $650; and those earning between $90,000 and $100,000 would receive $300.

My mum was one of those who received some money. So, what did she spend her money on?

A Wii-Fit.

Yep, that’s right. Not toilet paper, or food. She didn’t use it to pay off bills. She bought a Wii-Fit.

Was it a frivolous purchase?

Some people may say yes.

But no, it turned out to be a very beneficial purchase. Not just for her, but for society in general.

How does the purchase of a Wii-Fit benefit society? Let me explain.

At the time, February 2009, mum was overweight and unfit, struggling to fit into size 18 clothes, and nudging 90kg.

She knew she was overweight. Her husband, Don, had repeatedly offered to reinforce her side of the bed, reinforce her chair and also widen the front door. All to no avail. She just kept eating.

Overweight woman smiling, sitting at dinner table

So what was the incentive to finally do something about her weight? A gold bracelet that she loved was cutting into her wrist. It was either have it cut off or lose weight.

She bought the Wii-Fit and used it to start walking. If you remember the Wii-Fit included a balance board, so you’d essentially walk on the spot in front of the TV and watch a cartoon version of yourself walk through cartoon parks or other landscapes. That’s it. No virtual reality here.

Sure she could have walked outside, but for a 5″2′ woman weighing 89kg she’d barely get to the end of the driveway before needing a rest. Walking at home on the Wii-Fit enabled her to collapse exhausted in her chair, have a rest, then get up and walk for another 5 minutes.

Five minutes walking, sit down and rest, another five minutes. Some days she’d only do 5 minutes, but she gradually built up her time walking inside on the Wii-Fit.

What she found was, as she walked for longer the weight that she had been carrying around for so long, gradually started to come off.

By December that year she managed to go down to 56 kg  and dropped to 50.5 kg over the following six months. So that’s a whopping 33kg in 10 months and a total of 38.5 kg in around 16 months.

Older woman, smiling, standing in front of The Nutcracker media wall

In mum’s words, “Kevin 07 (the name of the campaign to elect Kevin Rudd in 2007) and $900 allowed me to buy a Wii fit. The prod for losing weight was a gold bracelet.”

One must have an inner desire to change oneself.

“The Wii fit and then a change of diet was what worked for me. I enjoyed walking on the Wii fit and was able to collapse in my chair when I was too puffed to continue – which was regularly in the early stages.

“The other thing that worked was changing the time of my main meal. Noonish is best for me. With an apple, 6 prunes, 3-4 almonds and small lot of grapes for tea. This is finished by 17.30 and then nothing until the next day.

“I eat a substantial brekky – lots of your home made muesli because I find the rolled oats very satisfying.

“Now, when I go out I ditch the diet and enjoy my meal whatever time of day. The next day or two I need to adhere closely to my diet. It works for me and I’m now in size 8-10 clothes and comfortably and easily sit between 51 and 53kg.

Another side effect of weight loss is I no longer need to wear orthotic shoes.”

She lost weight, got healthier, was taken off a stack of medication and became less of a burden on our health system.

I would say she also added years to her life.

The reason I’m sharing this now is because of the impact of the Coronavirus. Governments are looking to stimulate the economy and I’d like people to realise that with health comes life.

If you are overweight the implications on your health are enormous. Not just for you, but for society as a whole.

Imagine if the only people who were overweight were the ones where it was legitimately through illness and not through eating too much?

Our health system would be in a much better position than it is today, and people would be enjoying hiking, walking, being outside and generally enjoying life, without wheezing, coughing and spluttering.

Helping yourself to become fit and healthy not only benefits you, it benefits the society you live in. And in these times of uncertainty, we have a degree of control over our weight and our health.

What you do to your body on a daily basis, impacts everyone.

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