My Million-Dollar Idea for Tackling Obesity

Here's my million-dollar idea (valuation approximate) for tackling obesity.

More public washrooms.

Think about it.

How often have you stopped to use the washroom at a fast-food restaurant and, out of a sense of obligation, forced yourself to purchase something off the fast-food menu that you neither wanted nor needed?

I thought about this today after (foolishly) drinking 28-ounces of water while driving between Toronto and Peterborough. It's a two-hour drive and, by the time I was one hour into my trip, I really, really needed to use the washroom.

That left me in an uncomfortable position, to say the least.

  • I didn't want to stop at any of the fast-food restaurants on my route.
  • My gas tank was already full, so using a gas station washroom wasn't an option.
  • There wasn't a public washroom nearby.

This left me with no other choice but to drive home with a bladder filled to overflowing. I started having flashbacks to the prenatal ultrasound I had with my first child. I remember the ultrasound technician telling me that my bladder was too full -- hey, no kidding! -- and that he wanted me to pee just a little -- something that is much easier said than done....

I managed to make it home -- but just barely. (I sprinted from the car to the washroom.)

Then I started thinking about how many calories I have consumed -- and how much money I've wasted over the years -- just to gain access to a washroom. I know I'm not the only one in this situation, either. Washrooms are the bait that lure us into fast-food restaurants on major highways, are they not?

When I was a parent with young children, the public washroom shortage used to infuriate me. Once my children were toilet-trained, the issue slipped off my radar screen. Now that I'm trying to make healthier choices for myself (drinking more water; making conscious food choices), I'm back to feeling annoyed with the washroom status quo. Seriously annoyed.

Going to the washroom is a basic biological function. It's not okay that we've privatized our washrooms: defaulted on our societal obligation to ensure that every citizen has reasonable, timely access to a washroom.

Washrooms operated by private businesses are anything but free. Such access comes at a cost:  to our pocketbooks and to our health.

Oh yeah: just for the record, this is not exactly what I have in mind. (A public-private pay-to-pee partnership? I don't think so.)


* * *

And now a quick update from me. The past week was incredible on so many levels.

  • I had an amazing, life-changing conversation with someone really important to me -- one that will contribute to my weight loss success and overall health and happiness.
  • I discovered that I am now able to walk on the treadmill at a fairly hefty pace for over 30 minutes without even noticing the time.
  • I have lost an inch or two in areas where a person might wish to lose some inches.
  • And the scale dropped by four pounds. That means I've bid farewell to 15 pounds so far.

Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
— Lao Tzu