Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hopeless? Possibly.

If you watched the news last night, you probably saw a story on how difficult it is for middle-aged women to lose weight. I was at my volunteer gig at Alderson FPC, so didn't see the broadcast, but here's the AP story.

While they are very careful not to say it's impossible, they point out just how much daily activity – one hour, every day – is necessary just to maintain a normal weight. In order to lose, the unspoken suggestion is to increase that activity even more and, of course, reduce calories.

The average age of the 34,000-plus women in the study was 54. They self-reported their activity level and weight; diet was not part of the study.

So. Anyone who's been watching my struggle, or struggling along with me, knows I fit right into the profile. Do the results of this study provide any comfort? Not. At. All.

In a way, I feel like a 16-year-old with a brand-new driver's license – no matter how fast I drive or what the weather conditions are or who calls on my cell phone – all those risks don't apply to me. I'm invincible, I can endure, I can even conquer because I'm me.

In another way, though, I feel completely defeated. If the goal of a daily hour of exercise is to lose weight, and a study shows that it won't help, then why bother?

There are, of course, other, better reasons to exercise. Daily activity is good for your heart, and weight-bearing exercise, such as the kind of walking I do, is excellent for maintaining bone density.

Diet certainly plays a role, and mine is, I believe, fairly healthy and at a level which should promote weight loss. But here's one of those knock-me-over-with-a-feather moments: Clearly, clearly I need to eat even less. And move even more. Because what I've been doing Just. Doesn't. Work.

I'm not sure I'm willing to go there. It's a lot to think about, and I already think about it all the time anyway.

No brilliant wrap-up today. Just – ahem – food for thought.


Elora said...

I knew this would be a blockbuster downer. It was for me, too, Debbi, because I have quietly tried to dump those extra pounds. I don't want any excuses, I just want to succeed! Maybe I feel better because at least I'm trying! And, as you say, the exercise improves other aspects in your life. My brain works better when the blood going to it is oxygenated. Yes, bone density is improved with exercise...a whole bunch of good things happen. So, I, for one, will keep "fooling" myself that maybe someday, I'll be svelte again!

Elora said...

Second comment...after stepping on scales (sitting here munching on a dill pickle) is it that I've managed--at age 65--to drop 9 pounds since March 1st? Hmmmmmm. Exercise AND cutting intake. Getting comfortable with--ahem--deprivation? I think my mantra has to be "there is more to life than...eating!"


denise said...

This had Dr. Nancy Snyderman really torqued up this morning on the Today Show. She was angry that they even published it - said that women already beat themselves up about everything they need to do for themselves and others and adding something else that needs to take an hour or more of every day was ridiculous.

She said that they key is to try to exercise a half hour and then make good decisions the rest of the day - i.e., taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking more when opportunity is there, etc. But that we shouldn't beat ourselves up because we can't set aside an hour of every day to exercise.

Which, of course, made me feel better about it. I guess time will tell if that would work for me for weight loss...if I ever get it together again to focus on doing anything along those lines.

But the bottom line is that you weren't one of the women studied and what worked or didn't work for them may have a totally different effect (or none at all) on you. We each need to find our own sweet spot. Guidelines are just that - a ball park not the exact measure for each individual.

gingersnapper said...

I also saw a recent finding that people who are fat at key points in their life - particularly infancy and early adolescence - will find it essentially impossible to maintain a "normal" weight during the rest of their lives.

Guess who was a fat baby, fat toddler, fat child, and fat teenager?


Remember: reject their reality and substitute your own.