Pay it Forward

Hey Everyone, I’m back here to talk about something that I’m very passionate about. How many of you have seen the movie, or know of the concept of “Pay it Forward”? If you don’t, it’s pretty simple. You do something nice for someone else, then they do something nice for another person and they do something nice for another person etc. What I want you to think about is the ripple effect something like that can have on the wider community. It can be pretty huge.

So much of what we focus on in our fitness journey is what it will mean for us. I want to lose weight, I want to look better, I want to feel better, I want to run a fun run, I want to get a six pack, I want to fit into these clothes again. I am absolutely not here to tell you any of that is bad, in fact, I think you’ll find quite the opposite. I want to examine what ripple effect your choices (for whatever reason gets you there) have on the wider community.

You may think that your decision to change your lifestyle and become a healthier, happier version of yourself is a personal decision that mainly affects you. I’m here to tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong. It affects so many things around you, in a positive way. Let’s start from the immediate and work outwards and see who your transformation affects.

Firstly it affects the people you see everyday. Your family, friends and co-workers. Every one of them will see the change in you and be constantly reminded that it does happen and that it is real life, not just an infomercial. So that’s pretty cool.

It affects your local community. When you become healthier, in almost all cases you become more socially active. However, a more pertinent benefit that usually arises is you make better choices with your money. You won’t go to the drive thru of KFC/Hungry Jacks/Macca’s anywhere near as much, you’ll probably be as likely to spend your money on a local cafe that does an amazing savoury muffin, or going to the farmers market to pick up fresh produce. You will find that healthier eating also ends up generally supporting local business as well. You also keep people like Dan Toohey Personal Training running. I want you to be very aware how important this is. It’s not an airy comment to make you feel good about your choice. Let’s look at some figures.

Tasmania has the Country’s highest unemployment rate at 7.6% (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-03/unemployment-rates/5286338). That may not seem that high, but lets remember that we are affected by an aging population and young people are leaving Tasmania in droves to seek opportunity elsewhere.

According to the ABS (via the Brotherhood of St Laurence: http://www.bsl.org.au/Media-centre/Media-Releases?id=1033)

Over the past two years, youth unemployment in Tasmania has risen by:

  • 59 per cent in West and North West Tasmania (including Burnie and Devonport) , reaching 20.5 per cent in the year to February 2014
  • 43 per cent in Launceston and North East Tasmania, reaching 17.7 per cent in the year to February 2014
  • 35 per cent in Hobart, reaching 15.2 per cent in the year to February 2014

At these rates of increase, the new analysis forecasts youth unemployment by 2016 will hit:

  • 33.2 per cent in West and North West Tasmania
  • 25.5 per cent in Launceston and North East Tasmania
  • 20.5 per cent in Hobart

So, your transformation can actively help to strengthen our local economy and keep young people employed in Tasmania. It may not seem like much if you think about what effect you have as an individual, but if you think about the pay it forward theory, if enough people change their lifestyle (which you are a walking advertisement for, remember) then change will happen at a community level. The market will always reflect what is in demand.

Finally, lets get even broader than that. Lets take it to a National level. It doesn’t seem to matter who is in office at any time, whenever a budget comes out, people cry foul at cuts and debt and not enough money for this, that or the other thing. People also feel beholden to those in power, and think they just have to roll with it. You don’t. I’m not talking about holding a rally. Lets look at some more figures. Via the Medical Journal of Australia (https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2010/192/5/cost-overweight-and-obesity-australia), we can see that:

The annual total direct cost (health care and non-health care) per person increased from $1472 (95% CI, $1204-$1740) for those of normal weight to $2788 (95% CI, $2542-$3035) for the obese, however defined (by BMI, WC or both). In 2005, the total direct cost for Australians aged over 30 years was $6.5 billion (95% CI, $5.8-$7.3 billion) for overweight and $14.5 billion (95% CI, $13.2-$15.7 billion) for obesity. The total excess annual direct cost due to overweight and obesity (above the cost for normal-weight individuals) was $10.7 billion. Overweight and obese individuals also received $35.6 billion (95% CI, $33.4-$38.0 billion) in government subsidies.

The emphasis there was mine. This is not chump change. Every year, the cost of people in Australia being overweight is $10.7 billion. Now, Australia pays roughly $1 billion a month in interest on it’s debt (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-12/joe-hockey-one-billion-a-month-interest-fact-check/5478480) at the moment. So, it looks like if we cut out all the extra money we have to spend on overweight and obese people, we could take care of the interest on our debt, just from that, year in and year out. This would make a huge difference to areas that critically need funding.

So, to recap, I’ve thrown a lot of facts and figures and thoughts at you. What I don’t want you to do is think “I’m part of the problem, look at all the bad stuff happening”. That is rubbish. I want each and every one of you who walks through the door (or meets me in a park) to know that you are the embodiment of the solution on a personal, community and even national level. Every time you show up you should think just how worthwhile what you are doing is. You are inspiring those around you (you are, believe me), you are supporting local businesses (Dan Toohey Personal Training is a local business you know) and you are growing OUR economy, not feeding the pockets of “evil corporate fat cats”.

If you find yourself lacking motivation or wondering why you bother, if you are plateauing and just not feeling like you want to make the effort, take the focus off yourself and think how much what you are doing is helping everyone else around you. As one of those people, I’d just like to say thanks, and keep it up! Your ripples are needed, and we do appreciate you paying it forward!

See you soon 🙂

Dan