2009.08.19 Late to bed, late to rise

Written by David Green.

By COLLEN LEDDY

“Time” magazine had the most amazing cover story in the Aug. 17, 2009, issue. I don’t usually read “Time,” but the headline just grabbed me and sucked me in...kind of like Zingerman’s brownies do when I spy a bag of them sitting on the little shelf in front of the bread counter.

Zingerman’s brownies cost 30% more than they did last year, but still, suckers like me buy them. Fortunately, Stair Public Library subscribes to “Time” so I’m not tempted to shell out five bucks for a single issue. But I’m still taken in enough to check out the magazine based on the cover story.

“The Myth About Exercise” the headline read, and there wasn’t even an exclamation point. I inserted one myself when I read it. I think I might even have added a “Wow!” when I saw the cover.

And, I was surely internally patting myself on the back, suddenly feeling not just not guilty, but fairly virtuous for not having exercised much this summer.

“Yes! It’s just like the news about chocolate,” I thought.

It’s always exciting when one of your vices turns out to be good for your teeth, blood pressure and cholesterol levels—and full of anti-oxidants to boot.

“I can justify not exercising, right along with justifying eating chocolate! Could life get any better?” I thought.

I could only imagine how thrilling it was going to be to read this story, to find out that it’s all a myth, that I didn’t need to exercise, that I could go to bed at night without feeling guilty about another day without exercise.

There are no excuses for my exercise-less summer. It’s been relatively cool. Our last child isn’t getting married. The Summer Reading Program went smoothly. We didn’t travel much at all. We haven’t had any injuries. I just don’t know what it was that kept David and me from donning our walking shoes and hitting the road.

But this “exercise” article dovetailed nicely with our sedentary summer. Or, I assumed it was going to until I read the subtitle—“Of course it’s good for you, but it won’t make you lose weight. Why it’s what you eat that really counts.”

Oh, no, is this “Myth About Exercise” article just going to tell me I shouldn’t be eating chocolate? Because it’s obvious this article is going to be about not eating the cupcake with mile-high frosting pictured on the cover and the gigantic sugarcoated doughnut a model is using as an exercise ball on the inside pages.

You can read the whole four-page article, or you could just read most of the last paragraph:

“In short, it’s what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that matters more in losing weight. You should exercise to improve your health, but be warned: fiery spurts of vigorous exercise could lead to weight gain.”

The reason? Heavy exercise makes you hungry and you end up eating more, without losing all that much weight. I’ve noticed that during my eras of heavy exercise.

Now I’m thinking water will be the next myth-debunking cover story. When I follow that sage advice to drink eight glasses of water a day, I end up in the bathroom eight times more often than I normally would have. I’m guessing scientists will next advise that we don’t really need to drink that much water in a day. When they discover that staying up to all hours of the night and getting up late the next day are beneficial life patterns, I’ll really be sitting pretty.

I have found surefire ways to lose weight over the past 10 years or so. The first involves a dying mother, the second a major project (Barn Again!) and the third involves marrying off two kids in one summer—all of these simply make you forget to eat. You don’t have to think about losing weight or count calories; it just melts off with no work of your own.

I don’t recommend any of these methods, but it’s amazing how the pounds just drop off. There’s a bad side effect, though: gray hair gets grayer. Stress may drop the pounds—for me at least—but it also brings on the gray hair big time. I figure my gray hair is just an indicator that I’m doomed to a short life.

However, I’ve just read the funniest thing. I picked up “AARP” magazine by mistake, thinking it was “Time” (early onset Alzheimer’s?) and was flipping through it looking for the exercise story.

Instead, I found an article about the long living people of Ikaria, a Greek island that’s been identified as a Blue Zone (places where a high proportion of natives live past 90).

Check out this excerpt: “Ikarians go to bed well after midnight, sleep late, and take daily naps.”

Well, heck, if I only have to add daily naps to my lifestyle, there may be hope for me yet.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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