Exercise! What have we got to lose?

This just in: exercise doesn’t help you lose weight.

Say you’ve eaten a Milky Way (accidents happen) and you want to burn it off. Apparently you have to leap about aerobically for at least 13 hours in a very hot room under the amplified tutelage of an instructor who graduated from the University of Sadism, Magna Cum Loud.

I may have that statistic wrong. It’s hard to be accurate when another cherished dream has faded in the harsh light of some excessively diligent scientist’s research.

It’s not that I’m really super-sized. In fact, with TV’s “Mad Men” all the rage, my hourglass figure is finally fashionable again, although that hasn’t made it any easier to buy jeans.

But in the last few years, I’ve picked up an extra 10 pounds that I would like to give back to the universe. (Note to self: write off as charitable donation? Ask CPA.)

“Eat less!” say the excessively diligent scientists. But I’ve already given up Ben & Jerry’s, bagels, Cape Cod potato chips, my preprandial glass of sherry, and so much else that used to make life worth living. So I’ve had my hopes pinned on exercise.

But what kind of exercise?

Ay, there’s the rub. Swimming is out. I’m so near-sighted that without my specs, I’d get lost in the middle of the pool. Also, chlorine? Ew.

Well, sure, if you've got WINGS.

For awhile I thought I might get into running. If Nike here can run while wearing a peplos over a chiton, I should be able to run in spandex. So I bought some shoes and spandexy clothes and went running. Well, running and walking. Once. For about a mile.

Joining a gym? “The noise, my dear. And the people.” Which is sad, because I love weight training with machines. Many a night and oft have I paced through my house, hoping to discover an extra room in which I could install a home gym. And yes, I would use it. Yes, because it’s different from the running. Oh, now you’re just being cynical.

The Rhiannon Paine weight-loss plan

When I was in Britain recently, I did find a way to lose weight, and listen up, you excessively diligent scientists: it does involve exercise. It works like this.

1. Go to London.

2. Pick a weekend when there are lots of closures on the Underground. (Pretty much any weekend, then.)

3. Burden yourself with luggage. (Hint: buy lots of books.)

4. Stay on the 3rd floor – American 4th floor – of a hotel that doesn’t have a lift.

5. Keep forgetting things and having to climb back to your room for them. If you’re middle-aged or older, this should come naturally.

6. Refuse to ask people about bus routes. Instead, decide that “it’s only a few blocks” from Russell Square to Hampstead Heath, and set out on foot.

7. Travel with a friend who doesn’t snack, doesn’t eat dessert, and is immune to the siren call of Starbucks.

I lost three pounds.

What’s that? Well, yes. I have gained it back. Weight-loss suggestions, anyone?

“Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate.” – Anonymous

[Images: me transformed by the “mad men yourself” website; and the goddess Nike running, Attic bronze decoration, second quarter of the 5th century B.C., from the Louvre.]

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2 thoughts on “Exercise! What have we got to lose?

  1. It’s all in the refined carbs! A year ago I decided to stop eating sweetened vanilla yogurt and switch to plain yogurt. Ugh. However, I discovered that it’s actually tasty if I sweeten it with stevia (stevia comes from a plant — I have some growing in my back yard). You have to be sure it’s pure stevia, not mixed with dextrose or some other kind of sugar. Trader Joe’s has it. When I switched to plain yogurt nothing else in my daily diet or habits changed. Over the next six months I slowly lost 15 pounds. Who knew sweetened yogurt could make THAT much difference?! It’s the refined carbs that do the greatest damage — white flour as well as sugar/corn syrup. The body turns them into fat immediately. Apparently eating fat doesn’t glue onto the thighs nearly so instantaneously as refined carbs do. Still not a great idea to pig out on fat but faced with the choice I would opt for ‘healthy’ fat over refined carbs any day.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I hadn’t thought of using stevia to sweeten yogurt. I’ve started growing herbs & veggies in my back yard, so I can put in some stevia as well.

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