A new personal best!

For the longest interval between blog posts on Fifty is the New Forte!

Apparently I’m still in that time-management challenge phase where I can either fit in exercise, or fit in writing about exercise, but not both. I’m telling myself I’m improving, but I can’t prove it, yet, so don’t ask me to. For now, fitting in weight-lifting and some cardio takes priority. I rowed 60K in January as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. I’m trying to transition to the treadmill this month, so that I can try my hand – or legs! – at a 10K this spring.

Jane Fonda, 1980s workout wear

Anyway, I’ve been saving up some good links to share! First, there’s this humdinger: controlling for age, sex, diet, and exercise, American adults today have a higher average Body Mass Index (BMI) than adults had 20-30 years ago. Yes, the study is a few years old (2016), but I just recently read about it. In a statement, one of the authors, Jennifer Kuk, commented, “Our study results suggest that if you are 40 years old now, you’d have to eat even less and exercise more than if you were a 40 year old in 1971, to prevent gaining weight…” For those of us who have been wondering if there’s literally something in the air or water contributing to an obesity epidemic, well, that’s very likely part of it. As Kuk explains in that statement, body weight is impacted by our lifestyle and environment, including medications, environmental pollutants, genetics, timing of food intake, stress, gut bacteria and nighttime light exposure. She says, “Ultimately, maintaining a healthy body weight is now more challenging than ever.”

Ultra-processed foods: Just. Say. No. A diet loaded with ultra-processed foods will increase cancer risk, the probability of developing dementia or diabetes, and weight gain. (If you don’t want to follow each link, just read this one for a good summary of the research.) What are ultra-processed foods? “Ultraprocessed foods are ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat industrial formulations made mainly with ingredients refined or extracted from foods and contain additives but little to no whole foods.” Basically, if you are eating something out of a bag or box, and it’s not one of those excessively plastic-wrapped pieces of fruit or veg from Trader Joe’s produce section, you’re eating an ultra-processed food. Yes, this includes pasta, but that’s probably the least of our worries. True confession: I’ve known these foods are bad for a very long time, but have actually gotten WORSE about eating them in the last 1.5 years – as my schedule has grown even weirder. So I’m posting this partly to make myself nervous. (Oh, ultra-processed foods also tend to have outrageously high sodium levels. The World Health Organization says excess salt consumption is probably killing over 20 million people a year, and they’re recommending that governments impose mandatory limits on salt content.)

If only I could remember where I found this, I’d give proper attribution.

But weight-lifting? Just. Say. Yes. Seriously, what do we have to lose? Well, body fat, for one thing; also, the risk of dementia, heart disease, and the likelihood of serious falls. Win, win, win, win.

OK, here’s a dose of inspiration until we meet again (hopefully, sooner than 4+ months from now!): meet 90-year old Ironman Lew Hollander…


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