Respect Your “Largers”

Dr. Reubin Andres passed away September 23, 2012 at age 89.  What makes Dr. Andres special to me is his controversial theory that as we age we should both expect and plan to get heavier. Now, he didn’t say to let yourself go; he said that some additional adipose in our aged bodies would give them extra reserves to fight off disease and injury.   For too long we’ve been focused on all the stuff we lose as we get older:  hair, hearing, sight, mind, telomeres. So take heart in the thought of gaining something (besides the elusive Wisdom).

Here’s my favorite quote from Dr. Andres in a 1985 interview with the New York Times:  ” For some reason the idea had grabbed us that the best weight throughout the life span is that of a 20-year-old.”

Maybe the diet industry thinks this is their hook:  the idea that we should still weigh what we did as we entered adulthood.  But really, would you characterize the health habits of your 20-year-old self as ones that would sustain a long and productive life?  You eat crap and function on woefully few hours of sleep.  In short,  you abuse your body all sorts of ways just because you can thanks to those seemingly bottomless reserves that young bodies take for granted.  As my pal, Billy the Exterminator, says, ” With age, comes wisdom.”  … and a more discerning view towards food and drink.  I’ll bet most of us smarty-pants Napsters can say we follow more self-care now in our prime than we ever did in our collective, callow youth.  (unless I have some elite athlete followers I don’t know about — you guys just keep your medals and thoughts to yourselves for now.)  Our bodies are machines, and you have to keep up the maintenance and fuel for optimum performance ~especially as the mileage creeps up.

I will also share the wisdom of the late OG, Estelle, who herself was a life-sized woman.  Towards the end of her life she was very insistent that older folks just looked better heavier.  They filled their skin better, as it were.  She was clear-eyed and honest in that she felt the same as she did at 30, and it sometimes came as a shock when she’d see herself in the mirror and an “old lady” looked back. I don’t think her shock was motivated by vanity insomuch as how surprised she was that the physical changes of aging happened so subtly.  My goal is to follow in her footsteps and embrace the changes as the price of admission to living a long and happy life.

Dr. Andres obit did not mention his weight at his death, but the NY Times link is here.


6 thoughts on “Respect Your “Largers”

  1. I agree with yr m-in-law, may her soul rest in peace: after a certain age, as the French say, a person must choose between her face and her fanny – if you fill out a little in the fanny, it keeps the face smoother and more cherubic. I’d love to drop a couple of pounds in various spots, but I have no desire to weigh what I did @ 25.

    I’m in a cheerful mood today, no desire to gripe, but when I am the first thing that gets under my skin is the way our culture somehow equates low body weight with virtue, as though somehow you achieving moral superiority by denying yourself a cupcake and fitting into a smaller size. There are hefty people with healthy habits, and there are skinny people who get that way via all kinds of red-bull-drinking-cigarette-smoking-artificial sweetener-consuming habits. I’m not making the case for chronic obesity, mind you, but it’s overly reductive to automatically attribute a tiny physique to noble behavior.

      1. Double amen…. I don’t want to sink into the trite mindset of “50 is new 30”, because there is something creepy about thinking past ages are the only credible benchmark for your future.

  2. I dated a guy who told me while we were at dinner on either our first or second date that it was just natural to get fat as you get older. Not sure if he was trying to excuse his own lack of a six-pack, or the fact that I don’t resemble Twiggy (although, come to think of it, when we were going out, I was in pretty good shape still, working out regularly and so on). I always thought it was an excuse to get lazy and turn into a slob. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect to keep your college weight, but at the same time I at least need to make some effort not to turn into my grandmother.

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