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Is that right? An extra 10 pounds won't hurt, might help?


Just when I start to make some real headway in my effort to lose 10 pounds before I turn 50, my friend sends me this article from the Wall Street Journal.

I'd been thinking that shedding those last few pounds would help keep me healthy -- and more attractive -- as I age. Turns out that might not be the case at all.

Citing various studies, the article points out that a few extra pounds carried in places other than your waistline don't increase your risk of heart disease, cancer or diabetes. Those pounds may in fact help ward off osteoporosis, as your skeleton might benefit from having to carry the weight around. And -- this one just kills me -- people with a bit of extra padding, particularly in their faces -- tend to look younger than thinner people do as they grow older. It's like built-in Botox.

That's not exactly incentive for continuing to try to lose weight. But I'm going to keep at it, anyway. As of five minutes ago, I weigh 140.5 pounds. My body-fat percentage is 27, and my BMI is 24. My pants are looser than they were two weeks ago, and I just feel better about myself.

More important than the numbers, though, is the fact that in working to lose 10 pounds (I'm nearly half-way there!), I've made positive changes, big and small, in my eating habits. I've stopped eating after dinner, stopped automatically taking seconds and picking at the leftovers while I do dishes. I've shifted away from foods that don't provide a lot of nutrition per calorie and rediscovered the deliciousness of yogurt, apples, clementines and bananas. I've also changed up my exercise routine, adding some fun stuff (hiking, biking and hooping) and some extra-challenging stuff (Bikram yoga, anyone?) Sustaining those habits throughout the rest of my life just has to be a good thing, weight loss aside, right?

For my part, I know that hanging on to these 10 pounds for the rest of my life would have been an exercise in complacency. I sure wouldn't dictate to anyone else how they should manage their own last-few pounds, but I know I'll feel better -- and healthier -- without mine.

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By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  April 30, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Aging , Cancer , Cardiovascular Health , Diabetes , General Health , Is That Right? , Me Minus 10 , Obesity , Prevention , Women's Health  
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Next: 'Lbs.' looks food addiction in the face


Thanks for the interesting article. It occurs to me that one could have a slightly higher BMI due to muscle mass, right? Unfortunately, we don't get to choose where our extra body fat winds up. You can have a normal BMI and still have a fatter midsection than somebody else with a higher BMI but flat stomach. It's frustrating.

Posted by: drl97 | April 30, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

A couple of generations ago, conventional wisdom actually held that you were supposed to have an extra ten pounds or so in case you got sick, and then you didn't have to worry about any weight loss that might result from not eating while you were ill. Admittedly that was in an age where obesity was nowhere near the problem it is now, but I do find it interesting that there's at least one article out there that's contradicting the "you must get down to 0% body fat and a perfect BMI or you are unhealthy" attitude that seems to be so pervasive (and, I would argue, destructive) these days.

Posted by: | April 30, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

If you are a former English major, then you must appreciate the importance of language. What makes these pounds "extra?" The terminology itself is misleading. Today we define a BMI of 25 as "overweight" but 15 years ago we didn't. There aren't any new data one way or the other, it's just an arbitrary category, not a magic way to define extra weight. Does someone with a BMI of 24 not have "extra" weight but someone with a BMI of 25.1 does? Almost anyone can lose 10 lbs if they are denied food - does that make those 10 lbs "extra" weight?

Posted by: Luciana1 | April 30, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

The mid-life multiple choice test: Pick One - a face or a waist.

Posted by: SlowRunner | April 30, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

What a lame argument for being fat! No matter what the rationalization, being fat is unhealthy and ugly.

Posted by: dbert4 | April 30, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Dear Jennifer
In the last 10 years I have lost 125 lbs. mainly from changing eating habits. Due to my husband heart attack had to change but just had to cut out mainly two things - Sodium and saturated fats and we went a lot of vegetarian. Get the weight off and you will feel a lot better. My husband and I are both in our 60's. I just have 25 more pounds to go

Posted by: basine | April 30, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

They aren't saying you shouldn't control your weight, just that weight in the 25-29 BMI range isn't a nail in your coffin.

Some people will put a bit of weight on throughout their lives and never pass that mark. Others will start off heavier, put that bit of weight on plus a few extra pounds and end up buying two seats on an airline.

Posted by: RedBird27 | May 1, 2010 6:48 AM | Report abuse

Its really about feeling good about your weight. There are hazards with being overweight or underweight. What we need to focus on is feeling good and being happy with our healthy bodies. For tips on how to get the body you want check out is a free online fitness tool that can help you get in shape, stay in shape, and lead a healthy lifestyle.

Posted by: gstallkamp | May 1, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

The only thing uglier than a skinny woman is a skinny man. There's a reason skinny women wear loose clothes: their bodies are horrific.

Posted by: HookedOnThePost | May 1, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

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