How Not to Act Old On a Diet

Hint: mall walking-old. Vampire Diet-young. You decide.

By Pamela Redmond Satran • Guest Writer
Photograph: iStockPhoto

Before I turned 40, I never went on a diet. But since my 40th birthday, I’ve rarely been off one. Losing weight can make you look and feel younger. Just beware you don’t act older while you’re getting there.

DON’T  BE ON A PERENNIAL DIET – Always on a diet, yet never at the weight you want to be? Yup, that’s me, and I suspect it’s a lot of you too. But dieting for decades on end and never being thin thing isn’t just old, it’s depressing. Younger (and more cheering): Work hard to get to the weight you want to be. Then stay there. (Please note: I know this is excellent advice. I just can’t manage to follow it.)

DON’T WALK –  I walk, alone or with my girlfriends. And we’re not alone. All over America, middle-aged women in running shoes and lite exercise gear are walking on streets or in parks or on tracks or in malls, to exercise and lose weight. It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s free . . . but it’s not that effective at knocking the pounds off.  Walking burns 130 calories an hour, less than eating at 140!  Younger (and more effective) exercises: Tae bo, Bollywood dancing, strip aerobics (bedroom pole optional).

DON’T COOK FOR EVERYONE ELSE – Buying snacks for the kids, cooking your husband’s favorite meatloaf, going all out for the dinner guests is the downfall of many an over-40 female dieter. The solution: Stop putting everyone else before yourself and cancel the Saturday night dinner party.  Give the kids money for individual treats (and tell them not to come home till they’ve finished eating them). And get the whole family on board with your diet plan: they’ll be healthier for it.

DON’T CHEAT ON YOURSELF – Recently, I bragged to my husband that I hadn’t cheated at all when I recorded what and how much I’d eaten that day (for my most recent diet), and he looked at me as if I were insane. "Why would you cheat on yourself?” he asked wonderingly: Obviously, the words of a man who’s never been on a diet. It might be long experience with rationalization and prevarication that makes us more prone to dietary cheating as we get older. But whatever the reason, don’t neglect to count the bite you take here, the sip there. And yes, even when you totally deserve that impulse chocolate treat, it still counts against you.

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BE SENSIBLE – When my 20-something daughter wants to take off a few pounds, does she cut out desserts and eat more vegetables and lean meats? Of course not! She goes on the Vampire Diet – eating whatever she wants, but only after dark – or she adopts a raw vegan regime for a few weeks. She takes, in other words, the kind of extreme weight-loss measures we all used to take when we were young, before we turned into smart, sensible, health-conscious moms. 

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not advising you to experiment with bulimia or start popping your kid’s Adderall to curb your appetite. I’m just saying that the sensible, measured greens-and-lowfat-protein diet is old and the juice cleanse is young.

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Along with this exclusive column for, Satran offers additional up-to-the-minute tips at

Check out Satran’s hilarious book, How Not to Act Old.

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First Published Tue, 2009-07-28 08:28

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