My Thoughts on Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Reading an article in the Atlantic, about why (it is speculated) that people find it more difficult these days to maintain a healthy body weight, I couldn’t help but weigh the ideas with some skepticism. The author posited that some of the contributing factors included a change in microbiomes, resulting in changing gut bacteria, and increased exposure to chemicals and pesticides. The supposition was that people exercising and eating similarly weighed less in 1980 than they do now.

Something that wasn’t taken into consideration was that the amount of physical exercise performed by both groups could not possibly be measured with any degree of accuracy. The minuscule amount of energy required for routine tasks can’t actually be measured but they add up over a lifetime. For instance, the following is a snapshot of a typical day when I was twenty years old:

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Manually brush teeth – no electric toothbrush;
Feed the dogs, opening a can with a manual opener;
Lift the heavy garage door – no push of the button opener;
Type a report, invoices, etc. on a manual typewriter – correcting my typos alone burned countless calories;
Crank down the windows in the car and push in the clutch and shift manually;
Mow the lawn pushing a mower with no propulsion (hardly anyone I knew had a gardener and you were lucky to have a gas-powered mower) ;
Vacuum the house with a Hoover that weighed half as much as I did;
Cook dinner with heavy, cast iron pots and wash and dry the dishes by hand – no dishwasher in my house;
Sit down to watch TV, get up to change the channel and adjust the volume;
Walk to the only phone in the house, attached to the kitchen wall, and push a rotary dial around the face of the phone.

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To this sampling, you probably could add thousands more, depending on the household you grew up in. When I was a kid, we were expected to work alongside our parents. We didn’t sit in front of the TV until all the homework, housework, yardwork, and correspondence (that’s letter writing to you youngsters) was finished.

The Atlantic article mentioned that the price of a gym membership was about the same as it is now. Gym! We didn’t need no stinking gym! By the time we finished our chores, we thought getting up to change the channel on the TV was an onerous task…unless Dad said I could select the program.

7 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Maintaining a Healthy Weight

  1. and add to the list, Judy:
    -drive a bicycle
    – go for a walk
    – work in the garden
    – take care in your diet ofthe sugar and grease….
    – avoid the hamburgers πŸ™‚
    – sample your drink ( no much alcool )
    – etc…. πŸ™‚
    I suggest you ask to your readers to continue the list, Judy ! πŸ™‚
    Love ❀
    Michel

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    1. Your list had me laughing at the memory of my parents’ liquor cabinet – a lone bottle of wine and perhaps a small bottle of something left over from the last New Year’s celebration. We did eat plenty of meat, including hamburgers, we are American after all, but it was always augmented by vegetables and potatoes. Mainly, I think, we maintained good health by being active.

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  2. Yep! All of the above. My mother’s response if we ever mentioned that we were cold was to get up and dust or iron or fold laundry or do the dishes… One chore that I never wanted to do but was needed was scouring the tub. When they came out with a spray that you used after every bath that kept the tub spotless I thought it was heavenly! I remember having to walk around with my transistor radio held above my head trying to find a sweet spot to get my favorite station from Indianapolis. Likewise my best friend would be doing the same in an attempt to get a Cincinnati station to listen to the Reds play. Now we just go to the computer! My father had an antenna tower for our TV but the neighbors had “rabbit ears” and sometimes we had to take turns standing near the TV to improve reception…. I’m not sure how that worked but it did!!!

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    1. See, there’s another seemingly passive way we burned more calories – just standing near the TV to enhance reception. Oh, I remember that sheeting spray for the tub (another thing we no longer use) but it worked on the shower enclosure too. Now I just shower outside to avoid having to clean the shower. The calories is save on cleaning I expend on shivering.

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  3. I think you are on to something, JRR. Labor-saving devices were good, to a point. I don’t enjoy beating my laundry against a rock. But it has gotten out of hand. And we have gotten lazy! I try to do many of the activities you mentioned. I like to accomplish something while I work out, not just walk to nowhere on a treadmill or ride to nowhere on a stationary bike. Why not kill two birds with one stone? πŸ™‚

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    1. You’re right. I always say, I don’t want to sweat indoors. I went to a gym for about 15 years and I never looked better, but I was always sore. Now I work in the garden, ride my bike and hike…and I’m always sore, but at least I have fresh, organic food to show for it.

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