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New Year’s Resolutions Anyone?

Posted Jan 04 2010 3:45pm

I usually make it a habit to choose a New Year’s Resolution. Some have worked, others have not. Last year’s, which was unsuccessful, was to get on the Stairmaster in our garage at least twice a week. I think that happened the first week of January 09, but not subsequently. Oops.

The key for me is to choose something doable, but not so easy or hard as to be pointless. I think the Stairmaster one failed because I usually walk about 4 miles a day, so my brain tells me that I’m okay in the exercise department. I thought about choosing to maintain my weight loss, but I’ve done that successfully for the last 2 1/2 years anyway, so it doesn’t seem like a fair challenge.

While I’m choosing between the many other things I need to fix, I did run across some interesting weight maintenance advice from an unlikely source–the Better Homes and Garden cookbook Mr. F and I bought new for $6.95 when we were newlyweds in 1972. In the back section of the cookbook, the authors included lots of helpful nutrition hints, among which was the following advice. According to the book, we are supposed to maintain whatever weight we are at age 22.  To identify the daily calories you need, you are supposed to multiply this ideal weight by 16 for women and 18 for men, then subtract 10 calories for each year over 22. For me, that’s a “whopping” 1746 calories per day. I’m pretty sure I eat more than that, probably about 2500, but maybe the 4 miles of walking helps. The book does acknowledge that “additional calories will be needed by those who regularly engage in strenuous activities” but also warns that “many people tend to overestimate their energy requirements.”

Our Cookbook Is the Red Plaid One--For $6.95

This advice is quite different from what we hear today. A quick search using “weight gain” and “age” results in lots of pages stating that moderate weight gain during adulthood is “normal,” because metabolism slows. My own doctor mentioned several years ago that “everybody” gains weight when you get older. What I find interesting is that people in the 1970s seemed to realize that you needed to compensate for this, while today, we seem to hear that it’s okay to go ahead and gain the weight. Coupled with today’s fashion vanity sizing for women (add 8 to today’s sizes to get the 1970s–1980s size, e.g. today’s 4 is yesterday’s 12, and to buy anything larger than a 14, today’s 6, you had to go to Lane Bryant), it’s not too surprising that so many people think big is okay.

So if you’re still looking for a resolution, maybe this is the year to think about weight the old-fashioned way.

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