I’m 66. 4 years ago I weighed 235 pounds, ate poorly, drank too much and didn’t get much exercise. Now I’m at 180 and have been for the past 3 years. I don’t drink, my diet has improved dramatically but it is sustainable as well and I get a LOT of exercise, between high intensity interval training, lifting and lots of hiking. I don’t take any medications. So many people I know who are my age are winding down and I feel like I’m just getting going!
One of the many, many reasons I love writing on Medium is that people like Arthur will share their stories. What is particularly important here is that this is a far cry from many of the supermarket rags which shriek success stories about people who just this past year lost HALF THEIR BODY WEIGHT.
Yah. Okay. Talk to us in a few years.
When you tease out the critical particulars of what Arthur wrote, first, he’s kept that weight off now for three years. That is well past the much-vaunted (and often totally wrong) 21 days to change a habit. Honey, you don’t drive by the donut shops in my neighborhood.
Second, and this really stands out: his diet is sustainable. I mean, come ON, folks how long can you really justify eating nothing but freeze-dried Himalayan goat testicles?
This is precisely what KETO and all the other ridiculous (and patently dangerous for some folks) trends are. Yes. Go ahead. Throw your Keto and Paleo cookbooks at me. But please, talk to us in a few years.
The keto diet could cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies and an increased risk of heart disease. Strict diets like keto could also cause social isolation or disordered eating. Keto is not safe for those with any conditions involving their pancreas, liver, thyroid or gallbladder.
and then there’s this:
The paleo isn’t effective for sustained weight loss, as it is very difficult to stay committed to any diet that is too restrictive of one or more food categories. In terms of overall health, it could over time increase lipids like total and LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad”) cholesterol that raise the risk of heart disease. Not getting enough calcium increases the risk of osteoporosis, rickets and bone fractures. Chronically low carbohydrate intake may lead to an overuse of fat for energy, or ketosis. Medical supervision is recommended for those on the paleo diet, especially for anyone with heart, kidney, liver or pancreatic disease or who is interested in maintaining the very low-carbohydrate version of the diet.
Folks, you do what you want. However, the point is what is sustainable, what is best for the body you have, you age, activity level, your unique physiological needs. It’s not just about the weight loss. It’s about what that might cost you in the long run, whether you can possibly sustain it, and is it sustainable. These aren’t.
Is it really, really worth screwing up your body in order to get thin? Ask me what that was like when I was close to 100 lbs and my hipbones poked holes in my jeans. Kindly. Please. I’m lucky to be alive.
Frankly, reading the above diet warnings remind me a great deal of listening those those drug ads which list a thousand ways said pharmaceutical can fuck you the hell up but, BIG PAUSE, you might lose weight.
Guess what you just heard? Not the part about potentially dying.
At least you’ll make a gorgeous corpse. But I digress.
Another piece: Arthur doesn’t drink. Now before you hang me from the ceiling next to the mistletoe (what’s left of it) by my nipples (what’s left of them), please. This isn’t about holier than thou. It’s the simple fact that no matter what we believe, alcohol isn’t good for us. Period. Now. That said, if you decide to imbibe, just recognize that yes, it does have mega-calories, yes, they are utterly useless (except for making you the life of the party) and just think of all that money you could save if you didn’t.
And finally, and please forgive me if I rub this in because I love to be right (don’t we all) Arthur gets lots of exercise.
Stuff he clearly enjoys. And, news flash, more muscle means a more efficient body even when resting, more energy, and in every single way, a brand new body.
Yes you can do this. Yes it’s worth it. Because you’re worth a healthier body, better life, more options and the ability to play on the floor with the grandkids and not need an Erector Set to get you upright again. Greyhairs will appreciate the cultural reference.
Arthur’s story is just one of many from people of a Certain Age who found themselves in not very good health and decided to retool. This is what training for our Eighties looks like. There are scads of research studies which speak to everything from how you can start at any age, to how even if you really went off the rails (like I did) you can by god climb back on, and if you do climb back on, if you really commit, you can even bypass what you did as a youth.
This of course varies for each of us, but the research stands. Eat smart. Move. Throw out the meds (unless you have to have them, which again varies, but question all of them). I have to use a migraine med. But a few years ago I tossed everything else. My god did my health improve (note to self, do this carefully and with supervision, but do it).
My obese aunt at 92 dumped 100 pounds, and with that ALL her diabetes meds. ALL her high blood pressure meds. I could go on. She was not only happy about this, but at 95 right damned giddy about how well she looked in a bathing suit. She loved to swim. That gave her the ability to swim even more.
Arthur has options that he didn’t have at 62. One of them, and I’d put money on this (if not on the Patriots to return to the Super Bowl this year), more years. Not only that, more happy, healthy, energetic years.
I can’t speak for anyone else. I can’t speak for Arthur, but I’ll bet that the future he’s envisioning right now looks a lot more fun than it did at 62.
And let’s remember: while Arthur shaved off a bunch of weight, in your case, that might not happen. The most important question is what does FIT look like to you? Only you can answer that. However, if you are FIT, you don’t have to say to your buds, look, you guys do the hike. I’ll just sit on this (cold, lonely )rock til you get back. When you’re fit, you’re racing them to the top.
Sure it took time. Sure it took discipline. Sure it takes work to maintain.
Gotta ask, though:
Is it worth it for you for this to be the beginning of your best decade? When you, like Arthur, decide you’re worth it?
I think you are.