Mediterranian Lifestyle: Food, Friends, and Fun

I asked my Physician’s Assistant whether it’s true that it’s normal for women to gain 10 pounds each decade of their adult life.

“Yes it is,” she said.  “You’re doing just fine.”

I never asked what “just fine” meant.  That said, on the plus side, I managed to hold off two decades of weight gain.  On the minus side, in spite of all my self-talk:

“It’s ridiculous to believe you should look like you did in your 20s.  That makes about as much sense as the pre-pubescent wish to never grow breasts or have a period.”

“It ain’t gonna happen girlfriend.  Stop fretting.”

“You need a little reserve.  Grandmas are supposed to be soft.”

“There are other numbers more important, like cholesterol, blood pressure, angle of mobility, heart rate, activity level….”

I wish to be thinner.  I have narrow shoulder, a size Small, and I just look and feel better if my hips are at least a size Medium.  So I watch my calories, I study the latest diets, I exercise, and I try.

I tried Weight Watchers:  the old version, the point system, the on-line version, and the new version.  It worked for a while.  The weight I lost found me and brought a couple of friends along.

I tried LoseIt, same thing.  I’m still recording calories and nutrition.  It’s easy with bar-code scanner.  My goal is less than 1200, which I manage on the days I’m not helping the local food pantry by eating ice cream.  (Really.  Local ice cream stores are donating part of their proceeds every day of July.  I gotta do my part.)

Tree Pose is really difficult when the waves hit.
Tree Pose is really difficult when the waves hit. Even theses tiny waves.

I have a FitBit to track my activity.  My goal is 10,000 steps and 10 flights of stairs.  I often reach or exceed my goal.  I burn calories by:  walking, dancing (zumba or sh’b’am,) swimming, bicycle riding, yoga, and practicing my flute.  Playing an instrument burns a lot of calories, just check out the LoseIt app, which communicates with the FitBit.  By the way, sex, not so much; you can burn more calories gardening than with vigorous sex.  Granted not as much fun, but often a much more sustainable form of exercise; cuddling and mild sexually activity:  about the same calories burned as watching TV, which is less than sleeping.  The FitBit records sleep too.  I did that for a while.  I’m a great sleeper:  98% efficient at sleep.

I looked at the paleo diet.  Not for me.  Too much meat.  Meat makes me feel like I swallowed a rock.  Besides, I want to live longer than a cave woman, and running from predators is beyond my preferred exercise.  I tried running for a while, even ran several 10 Ks.  I never reached a runner’s high, or cleared my head, or reached any kind of peacefulness with running.  If I started my run with a problem on my mind, I worked myself into a frenzy by the time I finished.   I ran into predator-like dogs: I worried about cars: and I got attacked by red-winged black birds.   The only thing I liked about running was stopping.  I quit when my six year old beat me in the Turkey Trot.

I tried the Perricone Promise, which does live up to its promise of great looking skin.  Three days of salmon and shrimp, and my skin was pink and glowy.  I felt like a flamigo, the same color as my food.  I did lose about 15 pounds, and I love almost all of the recipes.  The pounds slowly came back, and again, brought some friends along. 

I found another diet.  Well, it’s not a diet, exactly.  It’s an eating pattern or a lifestle:  The Mediterranean Lifestyle.  Recent data from people living in this area show this lifestyle yields the lowest rates of chronic diseases, the highest adult life expectancy.  Here’s what it looks like:

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid
Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

See the base of the pyramid?  It’s doing things with other people:  Dancing, eating with family and friends, long leisurely conversations, games.  I’ll add bicycling to the store to pick up my groceries.That’s the way I want to live my life.  IMG_1420

Besides that, there are potatoes and bread and pasta and olive oil.    There’s all those good things I love:  fresh fruit, vegetables from the garden, eggs (seven a week), and cheese and yogurt.  Yes, I need to cut down on red meat.  Well, then there’s chocolate and ice cream.  The Mediterranean Lifestyle allows up to 12 oz or red meat a month, and fresh fruit is the main source of dessert.  Okay then, I need to move from once a week, to once a month on these items. A few more points:

  • An abundance of fruits and veggies.  Check −I love these things.
  • Minimally process, and whenever possible, locally grown. Check −I have a garden.
  • Olive oil as the principle fat. Check − (I read recently that just smelling olive oil will help with weight loss.)
  • Daily consumption of low to moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt. I can step up my cheese and yogurt consumption.
  • Twice-weekly fish and poultry. −Check.

I like the Mediterranean Lifestyle already.  There’s no promise of weight loss, although a lean body usually predicts a healthy body.  I have a teensy bit of proof that it works.  I spent 10 days in Rome with family.  I ate local, walked everywhere, lost a few pounds and never felt better.

After a certain number of decades on a body, without surgical intervention, a woman must make a decision:  a little wrinkled or a little rolly.  I’m still working at making peace with my rolls, and I have some character lines that I am beginning to cherish.  So YES, I want to be leaner.  Above all, I want to stay healthy.    

Just as a comparison, here’s the USDA food pyramid:

myplate_greenWait a minute, the USDA did away with the pyramid.  Instead, we have MyPlate.  Where are the number of servings?  Where are the olive oil, the long walks, the wine, and the friends?  I’m going Mediterranean.  I’m taking Loved One with me.   It’s a done deal.



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