Did you hear that? It was the sound of me bashing my own skull against my coffee table. There I was, sipping Bengal Spice tea,...Read More
Fighting the "Inevitable"
Somehow Dave and I ended up with a subscription to Cooking Light. It’s quite the mystery because the magazine comes addressed to him, but he doesn’t cook, and I didn’t subscribe. Really. No idea how we got it, but I’m not all that thrilled with the publication.
My experience of the magazine usually goes like this: I flip through the pages, muttering “Poison…“ every time I come across a recipe that includes rice or noodles or cheese or Splenda – which is almost all of them. Then I toss the mag into a pile, thinking, “I bet I could convert some of those recipes into dino-chow.” And I don’t think about it again.
Last week, I decided to donate a year’s worth of issues to the corporate overlords’ kitchen. (I work with a lot of people that like to eat poison.) Traffic was heavy on the way into the office that day, so while Dave drove, I flipped through the November issue and read bits out loud: sweet potato casserole with streusel topping (Poison!)… cranberry tart (Poison!)… and then an article, “Make peace with those few extra pounds.”
The pull quote said, You need to be your own biggest fan, regardless of what the scale says.
I am totally down with that sentiment.
We are all so much more than our numbers. More than our weight. Our deadlift PR. Our 400m time. Our body fat percentage. Our Zone blocks. Our consecutive days of non-cheat paleo. We’re complex and messy and beautiful and talented in ways that numbers can never measure.
So now I’m thinking to myself, This might be a good article.
Then I started reading.
This is what the first paragraph said:
If we’re lucky, wisdom comes with age. If we’re normal, so does weight gain. Maybe at first it’s only a few pounds. And then the years zip, but the pants won’t. It’s a fact that as we age, our bodies lose muscle and gain fat – after 40, women, on average, lose 1/3 to 1/2 a pound of muscle each year while gaining that much in body fat, according to Tufts’ John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition.
I would not presume to put words in the mouths of researchers at the Tufts’ John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition, but I’d be willing to bet my just-opened jar of Sunbutter that the sentence “It’s a fact that as we age, our bodies lose muscle and gain fat…” was followed up with some form of the words “…unless we do muscle-building, weight-bearing activities to reverse the process.”
The quote focuses on women over 40, a group near and dear to my heart. I’m 41, people; the article’s author is talking about ME. And I think y’all know I did not gain 1/2 pound of fat this year – but I have been packing on metabolism-boosting, butt-kicking muscle.
OK. Back to the article. I’m sure the (female) author of this article is going to talk about exercise immediately, now that she’s given us the setup.
An important first step is to accept that your top priority is health, and that neither you – nor your health – are defined by a number on the scale.
Yeah, yeah… already agreed with that. Now you’re going to talk about working out, right?
“The easiest thing to pay attention to is your waist-hip ratio,” says Marsha Hudnall, MS RD, director of Green Mountain at Fox Run, a Vermont-based women’s retreat for healthy living without dieting.
Hmmmm. Not the exercise prescription I was expecting. Time to fast-forward to see if or when she’s going to get to it. There are four paragraphs about cutting back on calories, followed by two paragraphs about monitoring one’s relationship with food, then finally: exercise.
It would be irresponsible to talk about weight control without discussing exercise, but instead of thinking boot camps, just try increasing your activity level…. “The key is consistency,” says Joan Pagano, fitness consultant and author of Strength Training for Women. “Just think in 10- to 15-minute blocks, twice a day.” She recommends 15 minutes of resistance training, two to three times a week, to preserve the strength we naturally lose over time. Combine that with 15 minutes of something active – say, walking or jogging – and you’ve met the government’s daily activity recommendation.
Yes, I have a bias toward CrossFit and sprinting and things that are generally described as “hardcore” because I think they’re fun, and I like the way they make me feel physically and mentally. I know that CrossFit isn’t for everyone. But I also know – as surely as I know I will groan whenever thrusters are included in a workout – that no one is going to keep their metabolism humming by going for a nice little walk a few times a week and bending their elbows while holding some pink, vinyl-covered, 3-lb. dumbbells.
People deserve better information than this. They deserve the hard truth: Growing old is not for sissies. If you want to be your healthiest and happiest, you have to invest. You have to work hard, do things that are uncomfortable, try and fail, fight against the inevitable.
And while you’re doing all of that, you do have to be your own biggest fan. Because some days are better than others. But every day that you try – and strive to be extraordinary rather than the inevitable norm – is another day you can walk with swagger. And that beats comfortable workouts with pink dumbbells any day of the week.
And while you’re at it, check out No Pink Dumbbells whose blog title inspired me today. Thanks, Mickey!