‘Exercise isn’t just about looking good in jeans’

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 21 Februari 2015 | 20.01

Personal trainer and star of Channel Ten's The Biggest Loser reality television series, Michelle Bridges. Source: Supplied

MICHELLE Bridges is all too familiar with the facts. As Aussies, we are at the forefront of a worldwide obesity epidemic. And she has some seriously troubling predictions regarding the growth rate of this epidemic.

We've all heard the depressing facts about our widening waistlines, but here is perhaps the most shocking statistic: If the current rate of growth in obesity continues, by 2025 (yep, in just 10 years) eight out of 10 Aussies will be overweight or obese.

Bridges is an Australian institution. Having worked in the fitness industry for over 20 years, she's seen the increasing shift towards what is fast, cheap and convenient to the point where our brains have been tricked into believing that we need to eat more than we actually do.

"I think things will get worse before they get better, in terms of our obesity epidemic," she tells news.com.au over a coffee at her local cafe in the Sydney suburb of Potts Point. "But I do think the tide will turn, I think we're smart enough to work it out, it's just going to take us a bit longer."

Ahead of the launch of what will be her 11th published work, Powerful Living, the 44-year-old fitness expert sheds light on why our weight-related health issues are still spiralling out of control in 2015, despite the fact that, let's be honest, we can't really cry ignorance any more. We know what is 'bad' and what is 'good' for us. I put this to her.

"There are so many facets to it, from education, through to marketing and advertising," she explains. "I call it 'Big Junk', all the fast food outlets. They've got deep pockets and plenty of cash, and we are surrounded by high dense, high calorie, low nutrition food."

In Powerful Living, Bridges writes that we've "lost control of our lives and ourselves" as the world has changed and she's on a mission for us to "take back the power so we are making our own choices about our food."

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Personal trainer and star of Channel Ten's The Biggest Loser reality television series, Michelle Bridges. Source: Supplied

Commando Steve and Michelle Bridges. Source: Supplied

Bridges argues awareness does still play a huge part. "A lot of people don't realise the foods that they're eating are so dense in calories. And they're not moving. More and more of us are going from the bed to the car to the desk, so when you look at this, it's little wonder.

"If you're not moving much, you're sedate and your eating high calorie foods, of course you're going to put weight on."

With a host of health and wellness programs, most notably her long-running 12 Week Body Transformation, Bridges has had immense success kickstarting individuals of varying ages on a path to healthier living — and keeping them on track. Powerful Living includes a new segment titled Mind Power. A series of quick, mindset drills to strengthen willpower and reprogram the brain.

"The mindset is exactly what holds people back. It's not the fact that they can't physically do it, what stops them from doing it is what goes on in their heads and what stops them from eating well is mind games.

"We all play them but really it's just a case of acknowledging them and unravelling the ones that really are holding you back and be able to live consciously rather than unconsciously."

We're not talking about Sudoku or crosswords here. One of the first challenges is simply: "Can you go a full 24 hours without making a negative judgment, comment or sarcastic quip about anyone, anything or yourself?" Bridges assures me that plenty of her clients couldn't go one hour.

"The negative talk about yourself, the 'I'm not good enough' ... So many clients don't even realise they're saying it about themselves, and I have to pull them up and say 'I don't find that funny.'"

Personal trainer and star of Channel Ten's The Biggest Loser reality television series, Michelle Bridges. Source: Supplied

Powerful Living is also laid out in calories, from the lowest calorie recipes to the 300-400 calorie meals. (For instance, a Stir-Fried Beef with Ginger is 380 calories, who knew?) At first glance, this is surprising, given one thing we're constantly told NOT to do is count our calories. Bridges explains: "You don't necessarily need to count all of your calories but most of us eat the same foods all of the time. We're creatures of habit, particularly with breakfast, we all have our go-to meals.

"When you have a bit of an understanding about just how many calories are in those go-to meals, then you develop an understanding of why you're putting on weight. It also gives you an insight into portion sizes. It just gives you a handle on how it looks visually because that's what can get out of hand."

Arguably one of the busiest women in the biz, Bridges flat out refuses to accept what she says is the most commonly heard excuse: "I don't have enough time." Her message is simply that "consistency is key."

"You don't have to train like an Olympian, you don't have to eat like a Tibetan paleo monk, it's just about being consistent. It's about what you do most of the time that counts. You turn up, if you don't feel like training then just go for a walk, just tick the box."

And for those who dread the gym, another excuse she won't hear of. "I'm a big advocate for being active that doesn't necessarily involve walking into a gym. For some people, the idea of going into a gym makes them feel nauseas or it bores them to tears. So it might be going surfing or going to a trapeze class or doing pole dancing, handstand classes, whatever!

"Exercise isn't just about looking good in a pair of jeans or looking good in a dress for a wedding, it's what it does for your head," Bridges says as she orders her second coffee.

"It does such good things for the way in which you think. There's so much research out there on depression and anxiety and exercise, its completely linked. And then of course what it does for you physiologically in terms of looking after your bone density and strengthening your ligaments and giving you a body that's agile and energised. You'd be crazy not to do it!"

Michelle Bridges is currently touring nationally to promote the launch of Powerful Living. More:

www.penguin.com.au/tour/michelle-bridges


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