Never let reasoned debate be lost in the emotion

In this 2 minute video, shot in one quick take on Friday afternoon, I ask Mark Pownall about the shark cull controversy that is raging around WA at the moment. Mark grew up in a WA family which fished regularly. He understands the issues, and always researches something before committing to writing. He is a respected journalist, and always thinks in an original, measured way. I wanted to ask him why he wrote an article about sharks in a business publication, and what he thought of the reaction to it. Give it a view to hear his reasoning.

I’ve known Mark 15 years now. He wrote the first article on my start-up back in 1999, and followed our journey with interest. It’s fascinating to work alongside him now, and see how, together with editor Mark Beyer, he marshalls the content streaming in and out of the newsroom.

Away from the hyperbole, it’s important to be able to sit back and think about issues. Mark P’s main concern in this story was that the naysayers seemed to be drowning out any sensible debate. Interestingly, he’s had many emails this week, all in support of his line. On the web site, we took 17 comments, mostly positive. On twitter, we had some people decrying the article as “bad” and a mere “standard bearer for the Liberal party”. While some people get all confident and scream from behind a keyboard, I feel it’s more admirable to provide calm analysis and perspective to the situation. That way people tend to listen, and you may win them over. You get the feeling Mark does not worry too much about the argument one way or the other, or who wins it, just that it’s educated and informed. Long may it be so.

How to lose weight

exercise more eat less

There’s a lot of tosh written and spoken about losing weight. Bunkum. I like old fashioned words – they have a strength. Tosh. Bunkum. Piffle.

Watched a TV doco last night that debunked all the crazy theories and told it like it is. Worryingly, it started with a lean looking middle aged gent who actually had more than his fair share of internal (visceral) fat, which can be dangerous. In other words, he had no muffin chops or love handles or rolls of Michelin tyres, but he was fat (on the inside).

So, here’s how to lose weight, and keep it off… each will not do enough on its own, they work together, and over time.

– count calories (average intake 2000 a day, for women; slightly more for men)
– it has nothing to do with metabolism, it’s just about calory intake and the right exercise
– skipping meals does not work, as that just gives you huge hunger pangs for high calory foods; eating 3 times a day, but less intake, works.
– use smaller plates: shifting from 12 inch to 10 inch will reduce your intake by 22%
– avoid buffets: they lead to 30% increase in food intake
– protein makes your stomach feel less hungry for longer (tests were done on meals with the exact same calory intake but with different amounts of protein) – lean ham, eggs…
– skimmed milk and low fat cheeses help wrap around fat and double the amount that passes through the body
– making soups out of the same food intake makes you feel less hungry for longer (tests were done with exact same food, one as a soup, one as individual meat and veg) as it fills the stomach for longer
– exercise obviously is important, but fat burn off does not happen immediately, it continues to happen, and you can lose more weight as you sleep that night than from the workout itself
– the best exercise is consistent, walking, cycling, swimming, over a good period of time (at least half an hour) many times a week
– building movement into your working day helps tremendously (take the stairs, walk around as you are on the phone…)
– all people seriously underestimate how much food they take in (food diaries only record 60% of what is actually eaten); a lot of snacking occurs, which is easily forgotten. Stamp this out
– small switches in behaviour make large effects over time: black coffee has a third the calories of latte, 2 apples are much better as snacks than a quick packet of crisps, etc.
– cool it on the alcohol intake – alcohol is (by definition) essence of sugar.

So that’s it really. We live in a high calorific society, and most of us have a sedentary lifestyle (we sit a lot). This was not how it used to be, but how it is now. High calory options scream at us from every corner. It takes a lot of self will to lose weight, when the society we live in is predisposed to us gaining it.

I’m hovering around 85 kilos; and remember my fit weight (when I was in my early 30s and playing a good standard of sport) was in the early 70s. So let’s see if I can get back to this “fighting weight” in this (my 50th) year. Will keep you posted, and if you want to join me, dear reader, or have any other advice or comments, happy to hear from you …

Photo credit: mash up from ‘2000 calorie‘ & ‘dog walking

49 UP

49 UP

[tweetmeme source=”ChazGunningham” only_single=false] SBS are currently showing 56UP, the latest catch up with a dozen or so people they have been filming since they were 7 year olds back in 1963. I first came across the series in the late 1970s (must have been 21 UP?). I was captivated by the people’s lives, a soap opera of sorts, reality TV well before we knew what that dreadful thing was. It somehow seemed extremely raw and real. The people were from such diverse backgrounds, and to see how their lives had changed from 7 to 14 to 21 was fascinating. And so I have tried to catch up with it every 7 years.

For those of you who know the series, my favourite is Bruce. The teacher with a heart of gold, who taught in the tough schools in London, did a year in Bangladesh, and then got married quite late to a cute bubbly wife, and now has 2 teenage boys. He went from teaching in a state school to a comfortable private one. He still has the best intentions, and is a classic “Mr Chips” character. All schools need them.

My own life runs exactly 7 years behind the 7UP series. I was born the year it came out, and today I am 49 while the participants are all 56. What has struck me this time is to examine what my life has done every 7 years (imagining I was a participant in the series)…

  • at 7, I was living with my parents, attending the local primary school in Wiltshire, UK
  • 14, boarding school in Somerset, UK (I “left home” at 10!)
  • 21,  university doing an Economics degree in Hampshire, UK
  • 28,  teaching Business/Economics in a Singapore expat school
  • 35, now married, had moved to Perth, Western Australia, bought a house and was doing an MBA
  • 42, running my own dotcom, had 2 children & had extended the house (still in Perth)
  • 49, having sold the company, am working at REIWA; my parents had both passed away; kids (now 9 and 11) at primary school

Where will I be when I am 56? Who knows? That’s part of the fun I guess.

So many SUVs


I am sure there are some people doing it tough out there, but from what I witnessed at the weekend, ‘we’ (the general working family population of Western Australia) have never had it so good and quite a few are doing OK …

We live opposite a lovely park, which has a lake, children’s playground, barbecue pits, you know the sort of thing. It’s not the richest neighbourhood by any means, but we fell in love with the neighbourhood the day we drive through it on the way somewhere, and were delighted when a cute house came up for sale a few weeks later. We jumped at it and have lived there ever since. Every year, a kid’s concert occurs at the park, with bouncy castles, Dora the Explorer shows, camel rides and such. This year, it seemed to attract more people than ever, and although the signs along the fringe of the park clearly say ‘no stopping’, before too long there is a jam of vehicles diagonally parked up alongside each all the way around the park’s verge, and outside on the front of our house too.

And so this was the sight that beheld me as I popped my head up over my gate, stretching to myself as I surveyed the scene over the weekend gardening activites. Row after row of some of the cleanest, largest, shiniest, priciest SUVs you have ever seen. One after another, no joke. In most cases, the ‘working families’ alighting from these wagons had 2 or 3 young children each, were in the early 30s and the cars they drove were probably one of two in the household. Porsche Cayennes, Toyota Klugers, BMW X5s (not X3s, X5s), Audi Q5s … not your regular schmutter, these were $80-$120k borgeous mobiles.

Good on yer I say, but it made me stop and wonder what we now take for granted, how well we are doing really and it certainly contrasted to the poxy Ford Cortina my Dad used to drive us around in all those years ago.