“There are three kinds of lies,” Mark Twain famously said. “Lies, damn lies and statistics.” In questioning the validity of statistics, the iconoclastic Twain may have been foreseeing today’s outcries about “fake news.” But we can thank the news media—specifically, the not-so-failing New York Times—for debunking one statistic that has long haunted those of us who start out every New Year by resolving to lose weight.
The Times examined a much-touted finding: 95 percent of dieters will regain lost weight, often within a few months. That figure came from a 1959 clinical study, and for decades it was quoted as gospel in seminars and books and even during Congressional hearings. But it turns out the study looked at only 100 people and was never replicated. A newer study by the National Weight Control Registry paints a brighter picture. Through newspaper and magazine articles, researchers asked people to share their long-term weight-loss experiences. They found it “surprisingly easy to collect success stories,” the Times reported. The average respondent had lost 67 pounds and kept it off for five years.
That’s good news if you’ve resolved to get fit and healthy in 2019. That’s far and away the most popular New Year’s resolution, according to a 2017 study of Google searches, with “getting organized” a distant second. And as Su Byron reports in this issue, we couldn’t be in a better place to make that resolution come true. With beautiful weather and so many parks, beaches, golf courses and sports courts—as well as one of the state’s best bike trails—Venetians can exercise outdoors all year round. And maybe just as important, we have a growing community of wellness experts, who offer instruction and encouragement in meditation, yoga, barre, nutrition and other healing arts.
In her story, Byron highlights some folks who tapped into this network to reboot their bodies and health. They told Byron they not only lost pounds and inches; they found new energy, verve and confidence. I loved all their stories, but 88-year-old Gloria Turnberg is my hero. When she started having dizzy spells that doctors couldn’t cure, Turnberg decided to take action to prevent a disabling fall. She enrolled in a movement class that helped rebuild long-atrophied muscles and restore her balance. “I feel stronger than I have in years,” she said.
Turnberg’s story inspired me to sign up for my own movement class, and I’m happy to report that after just three weeks I can already see a difference, whether I’m navigating stairs or the dance floor.
I’m still thinking about something else Turnberg said. A former science teacher, Turnberg understands the realities of aging. But she’s not cowed by the process. “The human body gets old,” she told Byron. “That’s going to happen. But how soon it does is in your own hands.”