Most people are not, broadly speaking, careful enough in matters of personal safety. I have completely unreasonable and unbalanced behavior in many contexts, but as a pedestrian I’ll almost always take a long time before crossing a street. In general, if there’s some chance that something very, very bad can happen, healthwise, then be cautious. This goes for relatively mundane activities: driving on fast, crowded interstates; experimenting with drugs; taking part in high-risk sports like skiing and snowboarding. When you’re driving, proceed as if your life is always in danger. In particular, never take any risks involving a side-impact collision. No matter how many people are honking wildly behind you, if you can’t see well enough to assess a traffic situation in full, simply don’t move. With regard to decisions about safety, never look to other people for guidance, because terrible decisions are the norm…

…As you age, managing weight fluctuation becomes increasingly difficult. Only one aspect of this is easy to see and measure: People get fat, and their weight goes up when they’re consuming excess calories. There’s a subtle aspect that’s difficult to see and is underappreciated: Many adults go through cycles where they keep their weight relatively constant but see their muscle mass decrease substantially. Some of this is related to hormone changes and slight decreases in the ability of the body to break down sugar, but these factors might not be primary. What happens to many people is that they gain weight by, for instance, overindulging in short periods of time—say, on a vacation, or in a busy month full of work dinners. The pattern is that weight is added, but almost all of this new weight is fat. Suppose that, after this month of work dinners and limited workouts, you have managed to gain a full ten pounds. A typical response would be to go on a diet to cut the weight. But even if you are successful and manage the weight-loss process well, the absolute best you might do is lose six pounds of fat and four pounds of muscle. 

This cycle—gaining mostly fat, then losing a combo of fat and muscle—is the norm. One consequence is that most people will experience an increase in their body fat percentage even if their weight remains stable. Fighting this typical pattern of aging requires a huge amount of work. A good starting point is to strive to keep your weight as stable as possible, and to think of binges as being especially costly…

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