Ann on Aging
Being Healthy - Is it Willpower or Against our Will?
January, 2005 - Issue #4
I recently read that Jack Lalanne, who recently turned 90, last had dessert in 1929. Great way to start off my holiday column now, isn't it? 'Tis the season for eggnog, decadent cakes, wonderful cookies, candies and nut breads. Somehow the thought of a low-carb, low-fat, high-protein holiday season just doesn't cut it. Oh Jack, eat your healthy, cholesterol-free heart out!

There is, however, some redemption and light at the end of the sugar-coated tunnel: walking. It's one of the easiest, least expensive and most comprehensive exercise we can do. I'm in the process of setting up a walking group and it will be finalized in my next column. I welcome any thoughts and suggestions you may have about the topic. Just e-mail me and be sure to read the next issue. Let's aim for a wonderful turnout come mid-January!

Every magazine rack I pass on my way to check out at the grocery store has dozens of headlines that scream, "Enjoy the Holidays Without Gaining Weight," or some variation on the theme. There is, of course, a good reason for that. Obesity has become a national health crisis in this country with an economic impact of over $125 billion this year.

Individuals who are obese have a 50 percent to 100 percent increased risk of premature death from all causes, compared to individuals with a healthy weight. Now, I realize this isn't funny; it's not intended to be. As we age, we have a tendency to put on pounds. In fact, for every two-pound increase in weight, the risk off developing arthritis is increased nine percent to 13 percent. Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, breathing problems and even some types of cancer are associated with obesity.

With weight gain comes the expense of new clothes. I have several friends who have three different size wardrobes. One friend organizes her clothes into the following categories: "thin," "plump" and "Oh my God I've got to get this weight off." My friend Jill cleans out her closet faithfully at least once a year. She is one of those people who strongly believes that if you don't wear it or use it in a year, get rid of it. I on the other hand am still trucking around clothes from 20 years ago. The bad news is that they're three sizes too small. I refer to this part of my closet as "The Way We Were." My husband calls it "Fantasy Island." There are hangers of pencil-thin skirts, fitted suits and tailored slacks. And of course, the other part is "Reality:" elastic waists, loose tops and comfy pants.

Every time I get a pep talk from Jill, I walk into my closet determined to really do a thorough cleanout. I manage to convince myself that it will all fit me again some day, and nothing leaves the confines of my closet. Think about all of the things you've given away that are now vogue! Who would have thought ponchos would return? Watch out - go-go boots, tie-dyed shirts and flared jeans are just around the corner!

Now, bear in mind, I'm on a mission here. Many of us need to get and stay healthy and we can do it together. I don't mean tofu and soybeans, you like that kind of food. What I'm talking about is a daily exercise routine of at least 30 minutes combined with sensible eating. Many of us have tried all of the diets at least once, lost the weight and put it right back on. I decided if I eliminate the word "diet" and call it "sensible eating," it may work. "Diet" to me means depravation. I'm the type of person who will eat an In N' Out burger, fries and an ice cream sundae the night before I start my diet. Well, duh... talk about setting myself up to fail! The way I look at it, I deserve to give that group of "The Way We Were" clothes a fighting chance before I ship them off to the thrift shop where they will be swooped up as vintage. Then again, we are vintage, aren't we?

Good readers, enjoy the cookies, pies and holiday treats but know that the New

Year is just around the corner. I'm nowhere ready to don a purple hat and outfit and do the "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple" number. Let's attack this aging thing with a vengeance. We may not stop it, but we sure will have a lot of fun taking the journey.

I wish you all the best this holiday season offers: good family, friends and health, a quiet spirit and renewed faith in ourselves and the world. See you in 2005!

You can contact Ann via e-mail at
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