Birthday thoughts

by Russ Roberts on September 19, 2011

in Uncategorized

I turned 57 today. And for a reason that will be clear below, I thought I’d write something personal to commemorate the date.

I usually lose weight in the summer. I exercise more and I eat better. Then comes the fall and I put most of it back on. And then a little bit more. Not a good trend. There are some ups and downs. I’ll eat salads for a few days or limit my desert intake for a while. But the trend is unmistakeable. It’s hard to know exactly where I might end up, but “bigger” is a good guess. I’m not grotesquely overweight. Just a bit heavy around the middle as I notice some men are of my age. I am just thin enough to pretend that I am “normal.” But that doesn’t really matter and the trend isn’t good.

This year, I lost about 10 pounds over the summer and within a few weeks, I put them back on. So for the first time in my life, I decided to start going to the gym. I once was a serious runner but that was 30 years ago. I’ve tried walking but there’s something about DC weather that has stopped my recent attempts to get more active outside. So off to the gym. I thought two or three trips a week would make a difference. And being more fit is a big plus. I’d enjoy those summer hikes even more if I were in better shape.

Then a friend sent me a book–Younger Next Year–saying it would change my life. It has a bit of Art Devany to it–there’s an air of science about it because it claims to based on our evolutionary past. It’s written in a breathless tone that occasionally sickens me in a book like this but it also had a certain charm. For some reason it got to me. The main theme is that once your turn 50 or so, your body starts to decay and decay quickly but that serious exercise and strength training can slow down the trend dramatically. The authors advocate 6 days a week at the gym. SIX DAYS! They say it’s like a job. You show up and do your job. They have various ideas about what kind of exercise but the main point is 45 minutes of cardio, and two of the six days should involve lifting weights.

SIX DAYS! It seemed ridiculous. And it’s really not me. Exercise as a passion has never appealed to me. But I tried it. And I like it. I’ve done it for almost three weeks now. Read a few other books to figure out what to do (including some tricks from Art Devany).

I ride a stationary bike for four days and lift weights for other two. I’ve never lifted weights before. I’m frightfully weak. But I actually enjoy it.

I’m back to my end-of-summer weight simply by exercising more and cutting out junk from my diet (one of their other pieces of advice.) I’ve also reduced portion size a bit and I find myself not missing the food I once ate. I have more energy. I feel great.

Can I keep it up? Will I want to? This post is my way of encouraging myself. I’d like to write again a year from now and be able to say I stayed on the path. It will be awkward to admit failure. So this post is my way of tying myself to the mast. The bonds are loose. But it’s a start.

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