I have a very close relationship with my mother, who lives in Arizona in the US. Each year as Christmas approaches, she always asks me in that symbolic way that only a mother could ask her grown-up son: "Michael, what do you want from Santa Claus this year?"
In early 2014, that unfortunately went unanswered. I'm sure Santa won't let me down, because I'm declaring 2015 'the year of 15 kilograms of weight loss'. Posted to the North Pole, here is my letter:
Dear Santa Claus,
I've seen you many times over the years on my television and loitering in shopping malls. You're a jolly fellow, putting smiles on many faces, but I've got some news for you – you're obese, and not setting a good example for all the boys and girls.
You work hard. You stay up late. You sit on your sleigh for too long. You travel all over the world. You're eating way too much junk - cookies, milk and who knows what other sweet treats. And what's with that red nose? I'm guessing you're hitting the boozy egg nog a bit too often. It's time to change your lifestyle. Don't worry, you're not alone, so let's get you and the mums and dads of Australia to bring in 2015 with a goal to lose 15 kilograms. Here's my Christmas list for everyone to join in. I'm not being greedy, I'm only asking for five things:
1. Back-to-basics exercise
We need high-intensity, full body movements to lose weight and tone up. We need more outdoor sessions with Vitamin D while jogging, running the stairs, performing push-ups and bodyweight squats, and skipping rope. Santa, please ditch all those pricey shake weights and electro-ab belts, and instead deliver a cheap and simple skipping rope to help people feel better, look better and get healthier. People can increase their intensity during a jog and time their '500 stairs' (up and down) session. They can mix it up and do workouts like four rounds of 100 jump ropes, 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, and 20 bodyweight squats. When they are ready to seriously smash it, they can head outdoors for five rounds of 200 jump ropes, 20 burpees, and a 100m sprint at 100 per cent effort. There's three personal training sessions of increasing difficulty, Santa, consider that my gift for you and the people of Australia.
For digestive health, blood sugar levels, weight management, and potentially to head off certain cancers, fibre is a daily obligation, and Australians are not getting enough. Santa, please deliver quinoa, broccoli, beans, and whole grains into our daily diet that are loaded with fibre. It looks like you could put down the candy canes and get a dose or two of fibre in your own diet.
3. Keep sugar on the menu
Sugar is being so demonised that people are going around thinking fruit is junk food. It's not. Yes, carrots, beetroot, and apples contain sugar. But they, along with other fruit and vegetables, contain many other vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Oh, and a bit of chocolate (make it plus-70 per cent cocoa, please Santa) is an occasional treat that none of us should have to give up.
4. Salad and protein meals
Please deliver us healthy meals that include Mediterranean-style salads with veggies and oil, along with a healthy dose of salmon, steak, lamb, pork, or chicken fillet on top. We don't need fast food, we need real, healthy food … fast.
5. A new mindset
Santa, I don't know how to load it up on that sleigh of yours, but this country needs a dose of motivation and inspiration. It's what gets us out of bed to lace up or trainers at an early hour, and put down the naughty snacks we don't need. Help us to ignore Hollywood's façade of perfection and just find a lifestyle where we are happy, healthy and OK with being a tad imperfect.
Santa, if you bring us those simple things, I know thousands of people can lose 15 kilograms in 2015. We really don't need video games or new gadgets. We don't need junk food or fizzy drinks. We need to drink more water and spend more time outdoors being active. Am I asking too much? I don't think so.
We are ready Santa. Are you? Oh, and Mrs Claus is going to love your new body – don't forget about that benefit!
As for me? All I want for Christmas is a new pair of running shoes, and a girlfriend.
Thank you, and Merry Christmas, from Mike.
Could you do with losing 15 kilograms in 2015? Are you willing to make some lifestyle modifications to achieve it?