I have this great idea for a new diet book. The title is “How I lost 50 pounds in two years after turning 70.” The sub-title will be “If I can do it so can you.” Want to buy it? There’s just one problem with my book; it’s a bit thin. As a matter of fact my “secret” diet can be summed up thusly: eat less, exercise more. It really is that simple.
When I retired at the end of 2012 (having just turned 70) I was determined to shed weight. For years I had travelled the world spending countless hours on international flights eating and drinking with abandon. I was lucky enough to fly business class in many cases and who could resist the free wine and heated nuts. To say nothing of the desert cart!
My “diet” regimen consisted of setting a daily calorie goal and then keeping a daily food and drink diary to track what (and how many calories) I was taking in. The calorie goal was set so that if I did nothing else but stay at that caloric level I would gradually loose weight. However, if I exercised (walking, cycling, etc.) I could increase my food intake accordingly. I used a smartphone app called Fitbit but there are many such apps and programs out there.
After about three months I no longer kept the daily food diary as I knew what not to eat (little or no bread, cereal and pasta and no French fries). I tried to exercise for about 40 minutes at least three or four days a week. At first the weight loss seemed painfully slow but once my metabolism was moving in the right direction the weight came off and my waistline shrunk.
Recently I saw an article titled “Exercise helps aging brains” by Leah Cannon (http://leahcanscience.com). The article reported on a recent study that compared healthy participants 60-85 years old who did 60 minutes of high intensity exercise train or low intensity exercises three times a week for eight weeks. Both groups had the same improvement in working memory and cognitive ability in a test where they had to think up random numbers and say one number each second for 100 seconds. Leah Cannon wrote “it was previously thought that aerobic exercise improves cognition by increasing oxygen uptake and potential energy in the body. This study shows that it not the way that exercise improves cognition. So more gentle exercise plans that target flexibility, balance and relaxation might offer similar brain benefits to high intensity exercise.”
See, I told you, eating less, exercise more….it’s a no-brainer.