Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Carrie Bickmore - By Peter Fitzsi­mons (Pen­guin, $24.99) is out to­mor­row.

Imet this Aus­tralian biker once, who, dinkum, could have stabbed Adolf Hitler, and didn’t.

For you see, the great cy­clist Edgar “Dunc” Gray was an Olympic gold medal­list at the Los An­ge­les Olympics in 1932 in the 1000-me­tre time trial, and so highly re­garded by his fel­low ath­letes and of­fi­cials of the Aus­tralian Olympic team that in 1936 he was ac­corded the supreme hon­our of car­ry­ing Aus­tralia’s flag at the Ber­lin Olympics.

Which is why, at Ber­lin’s Olympias­ta­dion on Au­gust 1, 1936, for one frozen mo­ment in time, he looked at the pointy end of the spear-like staff that the Aus­tralian flag was at­tached to, looked at Adolf Hitler swan­ning past just me­tres away, and in a mo­ment of mad­ness thought that he would prob­a­bly be do­ing a very good thing if he just bloody well drove the spear into Hitler’s heart and be done with it.

The Aus­tralian Olympic team had had jack of Ger­many by this time, and were be­gin­ning to re­alise what a fas­cist state close up re­ally looked like. From the mo­ment they’d ar­rived for theth Games, there seemed to be just a bad feel­ing in the air, with more N Nazi flags dis­played ev­ery­where than thereth were Olympic flags, armed sold sol­diers om­nipresent, and the knowl knowl­edge that the newly con­struct­ed­con­struct Olympic vil­lage they werewe stay­ing in was go­ing to b be of­fi­cers’ bar­racks af­ter th they left.

What’s more, the Aus Aus­tralian team couldn’t help but no­ti­cen that the Ger­man peo­ple gen­er­ally gave the se­riou se­ri­ous im­pres­sion of be­ing rightrigh into this cove Hitler, who all of Europe and the world was talk­ing about. You’d never be­lieve it if you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes, but when the Ge Ger­mans met each other in the street,stree in­stead of shak­ing hands oro giv­ing a Teu­tonic ver­sion o of “How ya go­ing?” they would throwthro their arm out and yell “Heil Hitler!”Hitl and all that sort of malarkey.

Sure, the Aus­tralian OlympicOly team got into it, too, af­ter a while, and started shout­ing at eac each other “Hail Mary!” as they passed each other in the cor­ri­dor… or ev even “Haile Se­lassie!” in ref­er­enc ref­er­ence to the em­peror of Ethiopia the then in the news for lead­ing the re re­sis­tance

to an in­va­sion of his coun­try by the ab­surd lit­tle Ital­ian dic­ta­tor, Ben­ito Mus­solini, but the whole thing was a worry all right.

And of course, Gray didn’t jab Hitler, some­thing he was still re­gret­ting in his Kiama home a good 60 years later when I in­ter­viewed him, just be­fore he died. But some­thing else he said to me that day has al­ways stayed with me.

Back in the early 1930s, he had a sem­i­nal con­ver­sa­tion.

“I par­tic­u­larly re­mem­ber,” he rem­i­nisced, “a jour­nal­ist by the name of Harry Gor­don told me some­thing very im­por­tant. He asked me once if I ever weighed my­self when I was in good form, and I said ‘No.’ He said, ‘Well, you might find that it will be use­ful to find out what weight you are, and then try to keep to it, to stop your­self go­ing fat.’ And you know he was right. The weight and ev­ery­thing go to­gether, see, and if you weigh right, you’ll go right. It made a huge dif­fer­ence to me, know­ing that.” Do you get it? This was a bloke who had al­ready won Olympic bronze, had count­less Aus­tralian ti­tles and was ex­pe­ri­enced in all mat­ters to do with prepa­ra­tion to ride fast. And yet, even at the age of 25, as one of the fastest cy­clists in the world, he hadn’t yet grasped a fact that you and I take for granted, as bleed­ing bloody ob­vi­ous. Not be­cause he was ob­tuse, but be­cause the bleed­ing bloody ob­vi­ous to us in the 21st cen­tury hadn’t yet been worked out in the early 1930s, or at least not widely un­der­stood at that time.

And I reckon there are many par­al­lels in get­ting your weight un­der con­trol. Be­cause I have got in­ter­ested in the whole thing and have read up on it, and talked to ex­perts, there are things I now get that I had ab­so­lutely no clue of be­fore. As a small ex­am­ple, be­fore Test matches with the Wal­la­bies, I drank as lit­tle wa­ter as pos­si­ble for three days in the lu­di­crous be­lief that be­ing a kilo or two lighter be­cause of it would be more ben­e­fi­cial than the dam­age done by hav­ing no wa­ter in what was ef­fec­tively my body’s ra­di­a­tor. Be­fore the last Test I played in Aus­tralia, I stayed in a su­per-hot bath that morn­ing, on the reck­on­ing it would soothe my mus­cles and have me fresh for the match. (It didn’t.)

Now, in this field of ba­sic health, with so many claims and counter claims, surely it is use­ful to have things we can hang on to? For just as “fash­ion changes but style is eter­nal”, these are facts that are just that – facts – which don’t change as health fads come and go.

Here is my list of things in the realm of health and fit­ness that should be more widely grasped by you and me and our tubby brethren, but aren’t… It re­ally is about the sugar. Twen­ty­five years ago be­fore a Test against the All Blacks, [the coach] Bob Dwyer talked to us for 45 min­utes about how he wanted us to play, most par­tic­u­larly the back line. I re­ally con­cen­trated, but could only get five per cent, at best, of what he was on about. After­wards, I asked the cap­tain Nick Farr-jones if he un­der­stood. “Ninety-eight per cent of it,” said Nick, “was run straight, draw your man and set up the bloke out­side you.” BINGO! The essence of it was sim­ple and the rest was just need­less com­pli­ca­tions. In this case, I got it. In the case of our diet I frankly think, so shoot me, much the same can be said about sugar. If you cut the sugar out of what you put in your mouth, then just about ev­ery­thing else will sort it­self out. In terms of los­ing weight, 80 per cent of it is to do with what you eat, and just 20 per cent the ex­er­cise you do. You have got to burn up more pies than you eat. And while you can knock off a pie in sec­onds – watch me – it can take an hour of ex­er­cise to burn it off. Yes, you must ex­er­cise, on prin­ci­ple. But, first up, you need to get on top of what you put in your mouth. This is why they say the best ex­er­cise you will ever do is to slowly… with your for­wards flexed and your shoul­ders straight… lower your fork… and now, with both hands on the ta­ble… push your chair back. You’ve had enough. Your claims that the rea­son you are over­weight is be­cause you have a slow me­tab­o­lism are non­sense. Oh come on, you know you have ei­ther used that ex­cuse, or heard it, dozens of times! It don’t wash, mate. Yes, peo­ple have a dif­fer­ing speed of me­tab­o­lism, but here is the truth: the dif­fer­ence be­tween quick and slow me­tab­o­lisms is roughly equiv­a­lent to the kilo­joules in a glass of milk, so don’t act like you’ve been hard done by.

The one thing that le­git­i­mate nu­tri­tional sci­en­tists do not de­bate is this truth: if you burn more en­ergy than you con­sume, your body has no other op­tion than to can­ni­balise it­self for en­ergy – and you lose weight. We all un­der­es­ti­mate what we eat. Now you may think you are tough on your­self, your own worst critic etc, but there is one area you and I are both very for­giv­ing: how much we eat. And it’s not just us, it’s every­one. Study af­ter study shows that if you keep a food diary for a few weeks, you will be rea­son­ably good at es­ti­mat­ing what you ac­tu­ally shov­elled down your throat dur­ing the day. Oth­er­wise, you are as ac­cu­rate as Blind Fred­die, or Fat Fred­die. When it comes to mon­i­tor­ing how much you eat, you are about as re­li­able as an Ital­ian train sched­ule. As Dr Rose­mary Stan­ton says, if every­one in Aus­tralia ate only what they claim in sur­veys, we’d have no fat peo­ple. That’s one of the rea­sons your new diet is fail­ing. Here is the next rea­son… Di­ets don’t work. Or at least they just about never work! Re­ports re­ally do vary, but it’s some­where be­tween one per cent and five per cent of those who go on a diet that ac­tu­ally man­age to keep off the weight they lost in a 12-month pe­riod. So stop the non­sense. I re­peat: don’t go on a diet – change your diet. The Great Aussie Bloke Slim-down

HEAVY DUTY (right) Peter Fitzsi­mons be­fore em­bark­ing on the weight-loss trail and (far right) as he stands to­day.

THE OTHER HALF Fitzsi­mons with his wife Lisa Wilkin­son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.