Sunday, January 23, 2022

And we're walking.

So I thought I'd post this week about a couple of...oh, let's call them health-related things. 

First: I bought a treadmill. It feels a little like admitting defeat to say that. I mean, the weather here in Santa Fe is about a million times better than it is in DC -- why not just go outside for a walk? Yeah, well, I've been here for about a year and a half now, and going outside for a walk is just not happening on any sort of regular basis. It's partly due to the pandemic; when I lived downtown, going outside was a little scary, what with unmasked tourists of unknown vaccination status wandering around every time I stepped outside my building. But another part of it that I need to have a purpose for a walk. Walk to the library or the post office? Sure. Walk to a museum, or around inside a museum? I'm so there. Take a walk around the block for exercise? I've got better things to do. 

Then, too, as I mentioned last week, the annual legislative session has begun. So for the next month, more or less, I'll be working seven days a week with no breaks during the day. Essentially, I sit at my work computer for nearly every daylight hour.

So if I had any hope of getting exercise at all, I knew I needed to get a treadmill. Here's what I got.

Lynne Cantwell 2022
It's a Urevo 2 in 1 under desk treadmill. I don't intend to use it as an under-desk machine, as I don't have a sit-stand desk, but it will definitely work that way. The handle folds flat around the back end of the machine.

This machine has very few bells and whistles. It has no programmed routines and no incline adjustment -- not even a manual one. There's a power switch under the right front edge, and a tiny remote that starts and stops the belt, as well as raising or lowering the speed in .2-mph increments. With the handle in the upright position, there's an additional set of controls: incremental increase and decrease buttons; a pause button; two buttons to bring the speed immediately up to 3 mph and 6 mph, respectively; and a big orange emergency stop button. There's also a tiny ledge for your phone.

For me, the ledge is an excellent feature. I'm not big on watching videos or listening to music or podcasts while I walk, but I do like to read, and my Kindle Paperwhite fits fairly securely on that ledge. (The backrest would fit the Kindle better if it were a little taller, to be honest; I may jury-rig something eventually.)

I hear you, fitness fanatics: "If you can read while you exercise, you're not doing it right!" Yeah, well, pish-tosh. My legs are moving, aren't they? Is this better than sitting on my butt all day or not? That's what I thought. Go away.

Anyway, I've had it for about a week and it's working out great. I'm glad I got it.

The second thing I want to talk about tonight is Noom. You may recall -- although you probably won't -- that I signed up for an app called Noom Coach back in 2017 and told y'all that I'd report back on how it went. Then I never did. Want to know why? Because I didn't lose any weight on it -- or at least none to speak of.

I was reminded of my brief fling with Noom earlier today, when I read a BuzzFeed News story about the app. Like many other things that started out as weight loss programs, Noom now promotes itself as a "health and wellness tool." In the article, they interview the authors of Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. (Intuitive eating was also mentioned in an article in Bon Appetit this month; that one is a fun read about how diet foods have evolved since the 1980s, and I highly recommend it. Although the BuzzFeed article is fun, too. Heck, read 'em both.)

One of Noom's marketing claims is that the program is based on science. It includes a lot of psychological tips and tricks for sticking to the plan, most of which I knew before I started using the app. But at bottom, Noom requires its customers to lose weight by severely restricting calorie intake, just like every other diet. And as Resch told BuzzFeed News: "They’re telling you it could be mind over matter, but it’s not possible. The survival part of the brain is going to do whatever it can to keep you alive... You can learn how to have power over [other habits] but not something that's so physiological and neurochemical. You cannot overcome that unless you're priming yourself for a very serious eating disorder."

One of the biggest dangers with this program -- or really, any weight loss program -- is the emphasis on the number on the scale: if it's not going down, you feel like a failure. Back when I did Weight Watchers (which now calls itself WW because it's about "wellness," doncha know), we were told about ways to track our progress when the scale wouldn't budge (waist circumference and so on). But the weekly weigh-in was a much bigger thing, and it was demoralizing when I hit a plateau. Noom requires a daily weigh-in, which is ridiculous for women -- our weight fluctuates with the time of the month.

Interestingly, Noom is changing tack -- it's marketing to men now. It turns out that men haven't heard all those little tips and tricks that are so ingrained in women's diet culture. But the risk of psychological damage is just as real for men as it is for women. 

Diets don't work, folks. Regardless of whether the purported aim is "health and wellness" or weight loss, you're being set up to fail. 


Oh, hey, here's another thing I learned this week: If you're a woman who has hit middle age and you're suddenly struggling with belly fat? Don't make yourself crazy over it. It's a physiological change that hits nearly all of us in the years leading up to menopause, and not only are researchers just now beginning to understand why, they've yet to figure out how to get rid of it. Swell, huh?


These moments of walking blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed! And get some better masks!

1 comment:

Lynne Cantwell said...

Thanks, Jo!

I did Jazzercise for a while back in the '80s, which was fun. I've thought about doing something similar now - Jazzercise has an on-demand plan now - to be honest, I'm worried the music will be a bunch of modern stuff that I won't recognize (and might hate). I guess I could put the radio on, or play a CD. Might try that once I finish the book I'm reading right now (it's Endgame by Chris James and it's really good!).