Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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Since I'm a health writer, I read just about everything I can get my hands on (and find time for) on new studies, findings, health reports and statistics...you get the story. And sometimes, it just gets frustrating. I mean, weight is a BIG issue (pun intended :) and here it is, turning up again, like a bad penny.
Here's the latest: If you want to age well, avoid midlife weight gain. (Kind of an oxymoron, isn't it: midlife and avoiding weight gain?) We try; we really do. But...it happens.
Researchers followed more than 17,000 women over 24 years, with an average age of 50. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that being overweight in middle age diminishes your chances of a "healthy survival" into your 70s by as much as 80 percent. The researchers considered "healthy survival" to mean living without chronic disease and also being able to perform everyday activities like climbing stairs and grocery shopping.
Being overweight in midlife, they found, resulted in multiple chronic diseases, impaired cognitive function, physical function and mental health.
Most women I know have gained some weight since they were 18. I'll include myself in that statement, despite being a diligent exerciser and being careful with my diet. Then again, there is that friend of mine (you know who you are) who still wears the same jeans she wore in high school (despite having two children who are now in their 20s).
Did I mention I'm insanely jealous? Well, the only thing to do is to keep trying, right? Get some exercise and move your body (hate to exercise? Find a buddy to work out with); make the right food choices (okay, sometimes you do have to cheat a bit and let yourself have that cookie - but the trick is to use some willpower!) and learn all about belly (or visceral) fat and why you don't want it.
And, I have just one more thing to say: It's important not to give up, just because these researchers love studying weight and then reporting all their bad news. I'm not throwing in the towel yet!
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