There’s nothing like personal experience to drive home a lesson. I always tell my clients physical activity is a major component of good nutrition. I even pass out free pedometers, explaining how moving skeletal muscles not only speeds up metabolism, but perhaps more importantly, facilitates transport of glucose from the bloodstream into the cells, where it’s used for energy, without any action of insulin. But do I practice what I preach?
I walk my dog Zipper for up to an hour every day, but he zips only occasionally and stops and sniffs a lot. There’s no room for my treadmill where I live now, and I dropped membership in my health club when they moved farther away. My yoga mat, well used most of my adult life, remains rolled up and tucked away. I use the same excuses as all the people I’m trying to help. Too busy: the computer and stove, work and responsibilities take up all my time, as does life.
So no surprise my own recent efforts to drop a few pounds hit a wall. First I gave up bread and booze, an easy first-line strategy. Dispensable calories, at least in the short run. Bingo: 3 pounds in 3 weeks—an optimal weight loss rate: slow, steady and often permanent. But then, the numbers just wouldn’t budge. Granted, it was a casual diet, and after a few weeks, I wanted a glass of wine. I made further changes, eating lighter, including even more vegetables than usual, creating more salads, some of which you’ll find elsewhere on this blog. The food was delightful and I felt great, but still, no more pounds came off.
Then recently, with the weather absolutely perfect and a little more time on my hands, I took a long hike with my good friend graphic designer Suzin Purney. We let the dogs off their leashes and kept a brisk pace up and down hills for about an hour and a half. The next day, I picked up my tennis racket for the first time in at least a decade. Another dear friend, Mary Ann Kendall, who is a pro at the local tennis club, gave me a lesson. Miraculously, the muscle memory was there, and it started to come back. It felt great to hit the ball and run around the court. I kept up the pace for another few days.
Well, at the end of the week when I stepped on the scale, there were two more pounds gone. I’d reached my goal. But it was only achievable when I added some rigorous physical activity to my dietary plan. It’s not trivial that in the biochemistry of nutrition, we study exercise physiology along with calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Proper diet and physical activity go hand in hand. You cannot achieve optimal health with one without the other.