UPDATE: As of 1:15PM Pacific Time, the survey appears to be operable again. If you have not participated yet, give it a whirl. I am extending the deadline to Friday 19 April at midnight Pacific Time.
ALERT: The service that provides the software for the survey is down today and they do not expect to repair the service until late today. This was to be the last day of the survey, but after access is restored, I will extend it for another one or two days. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Although I have some doubts about how the war on obesity is being waged, there is no doubt it is a serious problem – moreso here in the U.S. than in some other countries. Take a look at this chart from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD):
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2011 an average of one-third (35.7%) of U.S. adults were obese.
Fat is no joke. Obesity contributes to greater risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems and some cancers leading to early death.
Did you notice anything about that list? Right. All those diseases and conditions are also associated with old age.
A top fear among us old folks (and definitely for me) is becoming incapacitated, and the number one contributor to health problems after smoking is obesity, which is medically defined as 30 and higher on the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale.
Six weeks ago, my BMI measured just six-tenths of a point below 30. That's certainly a wakeup call. Today it is 2.1 points below the high end of overweight (25 – 29.9). That's because since 4 March I've lost eight pounds.
Online BMI calculators are, by definition, not perfect and further, the CDC notes that in particular they may underestimate body fat in old people and others who have lost muscle. But they do give a useful indication and, if needed, a warning. Here is the CDC's BMI calculator for you to try:
After I retired, I got quite fat and then, finally, lost a lot of weight in 2011. Last year, it had been creeping back and I posted about my new diet then.
That worked for awhile but I got lazy and although some weight returned, at least I can say have never been as fat as I was pre-2011 when I hit 178 pounds. (I'm am only 5' 2” tall.)
I've been gaining and losing weight all my life. In my young adult years, I tried every crazy fad diet there is. None work, most are unhealthy, a few are dangerous and when I started throwing up halfway through one, I got smart about weight control.
Only one thing works to lose weight – eat less than your body expends in energy. That's it. Nothing else will do it no matter what pills and potions and puppy dog tails snake oil salesmen try to foist on you at exorbitant prices.
I've written about how I diet in the past (which may be not for everyone – be sure to consult your physician before beginning any diet) and I won't go through that today. It works for me.
But I recently realized I have been missing another crucial weight control element (again, for me) - a scale.
The actual number on it is not as important each day as the trajectory is. Pounds can fluctuate up or down by one or two over a couple of days without meaning anything. But if it continues in one direction for longer, then it's for real – for good or ill.
I lived by the the morning weigh-in for about 40 years and when I retired I said, “Enough. I will never again allow a little metal box on the bathroom floor determine whether I start the day happy or depressed.”
Now I know I was wrong. If I had continued with the scale, I doubt I would ever have ballooned to 178. So now I have a scale again and I check my weight every day. It's what has kept me eating well and gotten me from 160 pounds six weeks ago to 152 today.
Additionally, I have a 30-minute, home workout routine that involves some serious stretching, cardio and weights that I have been doing five mornings a week for nearly a year. I can't say my upper arms match Michelle Obama's but they're lookin' good these days. For an old broad.
Exercise in general contributes little or nothing to weight loss. But it is vital for a healthy body and mind. Nearly every week, results of yet another study are published that confirm this.
I am never going to like eating as spartanly as I do. Nor am I ever going to like exercise for exercise's sake. Of course, there are no guarantees; plenty of people who do all the right health things have terrible problems befall them. But at age 72 and healthy now, I don't see that I have a choice.
I'm way too old now to be anything but a grownup about my health. If not now, when. I'll let you know how it goes.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Bicycles and Glass Bottles