2009.08.19 Late to bed, late to rise

Written by David Green.


“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.cowboy
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  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in 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.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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