My GF V.'s lost 40 lbs this year. The loss was preceded by a fall in which she broke her leg, and while in hospital, she was diagnosed as diabetic. They read her the riot act, and bye bye pastry, béarnaise sauce, champagne. To lose that amount of weight at 60-plus is a monumental task.
V. is not eating anything she remotely enjoys, she's hungry, and says the 15-20 last pounds just refuse to come off. You might expect a total physical transformation, but not exactly. She does look thinner, but remains a short, roundish, pigeon-breasted little bustler. The essence of V., a bright-eyed chickadee, is that of a vivacious bonne vivante.
I thought of V. when I read Michelle Slatella's article, "I Can't Outrun My Weight Issues" in the Styles sections of the November 13th New York Times. Aghast at midlife weight gain, she launches into an exercise regime, "two yoga classes and four 45-minute treadmill or elliptical sessions each week" and after a month loses... one pound.
I too am voluptuous witness to the fact that an hour of brisk walking or weight-bearing yoga each day is barely sufficient to stay even, let alone lose weight. Michelle has, for now, decided to ramp up the routine, adding weight work, and says, "I can't tell how much this is helping yet."
V. wonders if now, her blood sugar readings back to normal, her energy renewed and her wardrobe completely replaced, that last 15 will just have to stay.
Once health concerns are addressed, the unending severe diet is not a joyful way to live: deprivation, self-loathing, sporadic results. Sallie Tisdale's essay, "A Weight That Women Carry" is the most articulate article I've ever read about the futility of dieting to meet an unrealistic goal. (Originally published in Harper's, 1993, you can find it here.)