Seven habits of healthy Australians

The G20 leaders who spent a weekend in Brisbane probably stepped from their private jets imagining Australia was a country of healthy, slim and fit outdoorsmen/women. How stunned they must have been by what they saw.

  • More Boot Camp blogs from fitness expert Michael Jarosky

Last week, Fairfax obtained IRI-Aztec data on Australian grocery sales for the 2013-14 financial year, and the results are alarming. Australians spend 10 per cent of their grocery bills on tobacco products, averaging a $23 million spend per day on packaged cigarettes and rolling tobacco. Meanwhile, sales of ice cream, crisps, soft drinks, and confectionery are all increasing.

The data highlights the habits of unhealthy, overweight Australians. They're consuming more junk than ever before, and not doing enough exercise to keep off the weight.  Unhealthy, country-wide shopping habits need to change. So what are the habits of healthy Australians?

1. They're selfish

Healthy Australians think of their bodies and their health first and foremost.  There are work parties, social engagements with friends and pub days galore, but they say 'no' when they need to, because a night on the tiles won't trump quality sleep, heading to the gym, or waking early for a morning hike or yoga session.  They want to feel good and look good.  They celebrate when it's appropriate, but healthy Aussies do what they selfishly have to do for themselves and their bodies.

2. They shop 'around the aisles'

Look in the shopping cart of a healthy Aussie the next time you're at the supermarket – you'll see greens, fruits, chicken, lamb, eggs, and salmon that's all found in the refrigerated section of the store.  There's no aisle-bought junk such as sugar cereals, potato chips, spaghetti in a can, and various types of cookies.  Their shopping strategy avoids the 'kid-in-a-candy-store' approach. They're there to buy only what they need to eat healthy, tasty foods.

3. They drink water

According to the IRI-Aztec data: "When cigarette sales are stripped out, seven of the top 10 branded products sold in Australia are different package sizes of Coca-Cola, the most popular being a 24-can 'slab' of Coke, followed in second place by a 30-can package."  Healthy people don't buy fizzy drinks or energy drinks loaded with sugar, they drink water.  They might spice it up with sliced lemon, cucumbers, strawberries, and/or mint.  They realise the body is approximately two-thirds water, and that it needs water for a healthy life.

4. They exercise with purpose

Healthy Australians want to be active into their 60s and 70s, so they are active today. They are building muscle with weight-bearing activities, mixing it up with yoga, spin class, outdoor runs, and CrossFit WODs, or they're staying competitive with tennis, swimming, or corporate triathlons.  They keep moving on the escalator…and take the stairs instead of the elevator because they believe their 'health can be judged by whether they take two pills or stairs at a time.'

5. They indulge without bingeing

Healthy Aussies enjoy pizza, but instead of eating a whole pizza with buffalo wings, fizzy drink, and chocolate mud cake, they enjoy a few slices with a healthy salad.  There are no food comas, unbuttoning pants at the dinner table to make more room, and American-sized food portions.  


6. They are nutritionally literate  

Nestle makes Ski D'Lite Yoghurt.  It's 99% fat free, yet one serving contains 27 grams of sugar (just under 6.5 teaspoons of sugar).  Healthy Australians know this is the same amount of sugar as one Snickers bar, because they read labels and have a decent understanding of nutrition.  They also understand how much protein is in salmon, steak, quinoa, and tofu, so they don't need to waste money on cookies 'n crème protein powders.

7. They don't follow trends

A new pill, powder, or diet trend on TV each week guarantees weight loss.  Those looking for a quick fix tune in, while healthy Aussies tune out.  They don't become disciples of any diet trend, because they have a mind-body connection where they know what works for them to continue living in a happy and healthy zone.  They don't have a relationship with pill and powder hawkers, because they don't need one.

Keeping slim, lean, and healthy is a challenge, but it's a challenge healthy Australians enjoy.  With that lifestyle, there's more energy for every day, less disease, lowered stress, better sex, a healthier weight, and increased mind/body confidence.

When more junk food is bought, grocery stores win - then a dangerous cycle begins.  When grocery stores win, junk food conglomerates win.  When they win?  People with poor health start seeing the doctor more, then hospitals win.  When hospitals win, pharmaceutical companies win. Between the lines of the IRI-Aztec-data is a critical warning: 'Pharmageddon' is coming because big companies win when big consumers keep buying junk.

Slim, lean, and healthy Australians are becoming the minority…what can you, your company, and the government do to make it the majority?

twitter.jpg  Follow Michael Jarosky