I read an article in the New York Times yesterday, referring to those of us who have gained the notorious COVID19 15 pounds. The article warns: buyer beware: the wellness and fitness industries are out to get you. Let’s get real. First of all wellness is a fancy word for diet which you notice has the word die in it. Fitness is another word for miserable workouts with lots of weight-lifting and pushing heavy objects across the gym floor until you pass out or vomit. The tricky social media algorithms stealthy work their way into your subconscious. Don’t fall for it. You’ll only feel worse about yourself afterwards.
I’ve been prey to die-t schemes well before social media and algorithms ruled—when Jean Nidech , the founder of Weight Watchers, still ran the company. I was 14. I can’t even count the number of schemes I fell for over the years. But one thing was sure—I’d lose the weight and gain it back. A sobering fact is that about 90% of all people who lose weight gain it back.
These industries will prey on us as we ease back into normalcy. I know during COVID I exercised less and ate more–using the isolation card to justify my actions or lack of. But with the ease of the restrictions and the sweet smell of roses, bougainvilleas, lilacs and freshly mowed grass I feel a new energy and I’ve upped my exercise–45 minutes of walking and 30 minutes of Essentrics–stretching and strengthening. My friends and I are also going to get involved with pickle ball so I see a lot of fun in my future. I see no die-t plans though. Just an awareness to try and eat healthy foods.
The best thing you can do…
The best thing you can do is to NOT to take on some vigorous, intense weight-loss program, with small servings of food wrapped in pretty containers and an exercise program with shiny results waiting at the end of the barbells. I abandoned die-ts long ago but a few summers ago I tried one of those fitness programs where you do squats, lift heavy barbells, and push insanely heavy objects back and forth on the gym floor. I hated it. Words of wisdom–do something you like. You’re more likely to stick with it.
And if all else fails, take a walk
And if all else fails walking is excellent exercise and all you need is comfortable clothes, shoes and the outdoors. I read an article in the Wall Street Journal last year about a book called Why Walking Matters–Now MoreThan Ever. It praises the virtues of walking with benefits to the brain and mental health. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“What we probably don’t realize is that walking can be a kind of behavioral preventive against depression. It benefits us on many levels, physical and psychological. Walking helps to produce protein molecules in muscle and brain that help repair wear and tear. These muscle and brain molecules—myokines and neurotrophic factors, respectively—have been intensively studied in recent years for their health effects. We are discovering that they act almost as a kind of fertilizer that assists in the growth of cells and regulation of metabolism. They also reduce certain types of inflammation.
These essential molecules are produced by movement and the increased brain and body activity created by movement. If you’re not moving about, placing heart and muscle under a bit of positive stress and strain, these molecules aren’t produced in sufficient quantities to perform their roles.
When you’re out walking your brain is more active then when sitting down and it helps you discover things faster than if you are sitting down.”
Additionally, walking boosts creativity. If I’ve been working on a challenging assignment or studying something new and I feel a brain explosion coming on, I know it’s time to take a break and even a 20 minute walk helps me clear my mind, and inevitably I’ll think of a solution to a problem I’ve been stuck on, or new ideas will pop into my head.
The truth about inactivity
Recent experiments show that as few as three or four days of inactivity reduces muscle mass in the legs, starting to replace muscle with deposits of fat. This isn’t much of a problem when you’re 30, but it is when you are 60, and you find yourself needing assistance to stand up from your chair. The cure? Get up, walk about and fight the frailty that can come with aging.
Buyer beware: the wellness and fitness industry is out to get you
Don’t let the wellness and fitness industry play into your vulnerabilities about your weight or your looks. Try walking or some other activity you enjoy–there’s so many: biking, swimming, running, tennis, pickle ball, dance and the list goes on. Just get out and move your body. Not only is it important to exercise 30 to 60 minutes most days, take a break from sitting. Get up and take a quick walk for a few minutes every hour or so Sometimes employers will pay for a sit-stand desk so you can alternate sitting and standing. And if you do find a good program that you feel will help you, go for it. There are some good ones out there, but beware and make sure your investment will be worth it.
Until next Thursday…leave a comment or email me your wellness and fitness victories.