Finally, I'm back home with a lesson learned

We've been on the road for thirteen days, driving to Phoenix and back for my wife's Integrative Mental Health meeting. The trip covered nearly 2,000 miles and we got a chance to visit six sets of old friends. I weighed myself this morning, expecting to be way up, but I'm only at the top of my acceptable limit, three pounds over my current goal weight. That didn't make sense at first as we've eaten out a lot and had home-cooked meals in three places; those were delicious, but not what I've been eating while I'm dieting. I had also spent four days in the car and several more with friends who didn't exercise regularly.

Then I realized I still got a fair amount of exercise along the way, snowshoeing in Angel Fire and walking four miles a day in Phoenix while Lynnette was in her meeting.

My central focus in losing weight has been eating less, but when we're home I'm in the gym six or seven days a week. I've said before the vast majority of people have to modify their intake of calories to lose weight, but I don't think you can keep it off without exercising.

So I pulled out an article I picked up at a hotel we stayed at on the trip (we spent three nights there and two more on Air Force bases). This on was from USA Today and focused on "older women." It came at the issue from a different slant, that of normal-weight women who want to avoid weight gain as they age. A group of Harvard researchers followed a large group (34,000 participants)of women over an extended time frame (13 years). These women were healthy, didn't need to lose weight initially and eat a normal diet.

The conclusions fit with my premise; the relatively small cohort (13%) who never gained more than five pounds during the entire length of the study regularly did an hour a day of moderate-intensity exercise. The researchers didn't extend their findings to men or younger women (or kids), but I firmly believe the way to keep weight off for all of us is through some kind of exertion. Whether you chose to walk for an hour (at least five days a week) or do something more strenuous for shorter time periods, get off your couch and find a form of exercise that fits with your age, health condition and inclinations. Even shorter periods or exercise will convey at least some health benefits. You'll be ahead of most of your fellow countrymen and women if you do so.

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