6/7/08

Bright Lights, Big Waistlines?

I'm city girl. This is never going to change. I LIKE having everything within walking distance of my home, including grocery stores, restaurants, retail chains and more. I live within minutes of the centre of Canada's largest city, and despite the noise, traffic and craziness - I am totally at peace. But does living in a large urban area affect my waist line too? Is having a Jack Astor's, a Pickle Barrel, a Red Lobster, a Spring Rolls, not to mention the Burger Kings, McDonald's and Wendy's that around abound, five minutes from my front door step a bad thing? (We won't mention the Harvey's that I can spit on from my porch) Sure, I relied on fast-food before, but it's not a part of my life ALL of the time. Now it's a treat rather than a every day occurrence. Yes, I am tempted to be lazy and give in to the neon signs and tasty looking billboards, but I'd like to think I'm smarter than that....just a little. Someone casually mentioned today that living further away from the city helped them lose weight. But does it really? I'm glad it works for them, but I doubt it would for me. For me, I think it may be a hindrance. I wouldn't have access to a gym, I would probably isolate myself to my house or find myself driving far off to do things and spending long periods of time car bound, probably mindlessly snacking or picking up convenience food somewhere along the way. Perhaps this is just my "citiot" mentality but is one necessarily better than the other or is the will-power of the individual? I would just think that if I didn't have the support systems and tools that are abound here in the city, I would have surely failed, plunking myself down in front of the television or worse - death by baking. Thoughts? Image from tonymakepeace.net. Check out the wicked-cool panorama view of Yonge-Dundas Square.

18 comments:

Heather said...

I grew up in a rural community of about 800 people, very isolated. I'm talking 300 km drive from a traffic light...lol. I started gaining weight in university but I can't blame it on living in a city for the first time in my life. My parents are obese and they still live in the middle of no where. I think no matter where you are there are ways to live healthy and ways to kill your body with no exercise and a high fat diet.

MizFit said...

you are SMARTSMARTSMART to know what you want and need in life.

I tried to PRETEND otherwise once and was sorely unhappy.

(and Im NOT just saying this because I, like you, HEART the city :))

MizFit

Vickie said...

I CRAVE being about to walk to the library, bank, store, etc. But my town is not built this way - even if you are fairly close - sidewalks are not made for a foot traffic life style.

I do walk to my mom's (1.62 miles round trip) - many times a week instead of driving. Alicia is hosting a challenge this summer - who can get the most miles logged by walking/riding bike somewhere instead of driving.

You will find it here:
http://thegrumpychairdieter.blogspot.com/2008/05/why-drive-when-you-can-walk-or-ride.html

I think it is a fun idea for those of us that don't automatically think of our feet when running errands.

Sarah said...

I think it's a double-sided coin when it comes to my weight loss. Yes, things are more 'convenient' in the city, but when I'm in rural Canada, I get more exercise because I *LIKE* being outside there...

It's also further to a grocery store, so running out to get a snack isn't an option. I don't have your self-control!

Blue Ice Dave said...

Since I grew up in Chicago, I can relate to the convenience factor (including the Fannie May chocolate shop that was on the corner of my street: talk about temptation). However, I loved living in the country, where you planned for every meal, snack, and nosh. I went without something more often than not when the cravings struck.

Sonya said...

I don't think it matters where you live. If you want a burger you'll go and get it regardless if it is across the street or a 15min drive! Trust me! lol...I live in durham region.

Erica said...

I would love to live in a city for a while to see how different that would be, I think I would be more in shape. I hate having to drive EVERYWHERE (especially with gas at $3.85 a gallon)!

BTW I love that you said death by baking, I get pretty damn close in the winter months here.

Bi0nicw0man said...

I live in Suburbia and my fast-food eating habits are worse now than when I lived in downtown Victoria. When I was downtown there were more good choices...small bistros, Vietnamese, little cafes, healthy markets. I was also more apt to walk places because I was close. Out here in the burbs the only restaurant choices are the ugly chains like Jack Astors or the fast food outlets. And they are all just far enough away that we never walk there.

Jen said...

I am in COMPLETE agreement with you!!! I live in a small "city" (not really a city, barely 100,000)...the only thing with in walking distance of my house - and a GOOD 30-40 minutes walk - is a grocery store and a boston pizza...oh and soon to be a "drive thru" subway and kfc/taco bell...um at least I would burn the calories walking to it??? Anyway, my point is, it doesn't matter how close or far it's ALL about the individual...I was obese LONG before these places opened up close to me!!!

*sigh* I WISH I lived near places I could walk to...I think I would walk more if I had a "purpose"

Diet Coke and Zingers said...

Ahhhh yes, death by baking. What a glorious way to go.

I don't think it has much to do with proximity of restaurants... If you really want a cheeseburger, you'll drive 15 miles to Wendys at 1:00 am to get one... Not that I've ever done that or anything because that would be crazy! Just sayin.

jodi said...

i live the suburbs so i pretty much have to drive wherever i need to go - metro, grocery store, gym, etc. but am also blessed to have a gym in my building where i work so there's no excuse for me NOT to work out... even when i lived even farther out, i drove to the gym or did workouts at home - it's really a matter of doing what you need to do, in order to get the results you want... i realize not everyone can afford a gym membership or expensive DVDs but if you're serious about getting healthy - you can find ways to do it! :o)

Candace said...

Well...I know Halifax is NOT TO, but that's where I started putting weight on. I worked downtown at the corner of Barrington and Spring Garden Road - really the 2 main streets. Walking the waterfront at noon was fun when the stench wasn't blowing off the harbour - anyhoo. I lived in an area where I could walk to healthy or unhealthy foods as well. Then I moved to a village. I continued to put weight on here and only started taking it off when I realized I needed help, reached out for it, and worked to get to a healthy point in my life. Is losing weight easy? My base answer is that it's easier than being overweight and not being able to enjoy life.

I hope I can maintain and live as full a life as you. City or country or town (town - ugh) I think it's mostly about the person.

Crabby McSlacker said...

I think I read a study somewhere showing urban folks tended to be a bit slimmer than average because of all the extra walking.

I know for me it's ESSENTIAL that I live in a walkable neighborhood, and those often tend to be in urban environments. As it happens, now I'm living in a small town on the tip of cape cod, but it's a resort town with tons of great stuff to walk to and a crappy parking situation, so we rarely use the car. I'd be so unhappy in a gated suburban community where I had to drive everywhere!

marie said...

there's also a Canadian study that showed that what neighbourhood you lived in affected your waistline (urban areas only), meaning that affluence affected the size of your drawers.

Crazy stuff.

Sure, walkable cities can make for smaller folks, but do you choose to walk it?

JavaChick said...

I think that if you want to lose weight/take care of your health, you will do it regardless of where you live. I have lived in the city and the country. I think I was more active when I lived in the country, but that may have to do with the amount of time I had available then. I miss living in the country, being able to step out my door and go for a hike (or cross-country ski) through the woods. But that doesn't mean that I sit on my butt because I can't do those things.

You make the best of where you're at.

Randi said...

I read a weird study (ok not the study, a summary of it) that showed that the more night time light (streetlights, car lights, store fronts etc) the higher the rates of cancer I think. Your body didn't recharge at night properly. Not exactly related but thought it was interesting.

I'm a small town girl and I think there's more opportunity for natural exercise out there. You can walk to work, bike anywhere, heck you do gardening and have lawn to cut where city/appartment dwellers don't. I guess you have stairs right? ;)

Sarah said...

You just named one of the reasons I love living in the small 'town' I do. The city is reachable (10 minute drive) in case I have a dire craving.. but otherwise - the only fast food nearby is Subway. The downside is sometimes I'm too lazy for the Subway and that's when I order pizza!

Anonymous said...

I too live in the city and am only 20 mins outside of DC. I actually gave up fast food 3 months ago. 3/6/08 to be excate. Sure I miss it and I have problems staying away but I keep telling myself just get through one more month. How awesome would it be to w/o it for 4 months. So far that has worked. If I have a big urge I go to a real sit down resturant and order something off their menu. It feels good knowning I'm not putting that stuff in my body esp. since I think they have additive stuff in their food.

Also you are saving a ton on gas by being in the city. I know after spending 44 bucks on gas last week; we bought bikes and now either walk or bike everyone. (if the weather is right) so I say stay with the city b/c I think it is better than having to drive everywhere.

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