I was asked an interesting question by a friend on exercise and pain relief (for another article), or more accurately, post exercise ‘my thighs are killing’ and pain relief. This did get me thinking on the cycle many people seem to go through:
I see so many people go through the exact same routine. I was once working for a commercial gym who had on their books over 4,000 members. The building was only allowed 250! Gyms know this is how people behave and actively depend on it. So it got me thinking, is it possible to avoid all this by avoiding the part that people seem to fail on: exercise?
The answer is, yes, of course!
Now before you start shouting about body composition and genetic dependence on sugary food, let me remind you of those adverts you pretend not to see where they ask you for £ 2 a month. I can assure you the uncomfortable people in this situation do not exercise and they are far from overweight. You can claim of course that this is an extreme example, which it is, but it does illustrate effectively the point I’m trying to make: you do not need to exercise to lose weight.
In fact it also makes a second, more important point: if you are relying on exercise alone to achieve your results, you’re gunna fail. This is the crux of the matter for many people. You MUST get out of the mentality of food being a reward. While I was teaching I would see the overweight members of staff (they seem to concentrate in schools, maybe its something to do with gravity wells) do thirty minutes of ‘step aerobics’ or ‘body max pump’ or some other slickly marketed franchise garbage and follow it up with a chocolate bar and a cake with coke ‘because I worked hard, I deserve it’. The PT taking these sessions of course was secretly laughing all the way to the bank: you know those ladies are coming back week after week …
They would come in the next day and eat a few biscuits etc as a reward for working hard and wonder why they never lost weight. Fact is exercise, as a separate entity, is pretty useless at burning calories. Do not believe me, check this out …
As stated, if you’re relying on exercise alone to shift weight absolutely your going to fail. If you keep up with the eating habits that have made you fat, you’ll always get to a point where the amount of exercise balances out the excess calorie intake. This might be much sooner than you think, as the video at the end of part one demonstrated. This is the period of time where most people give up: they’re running three nights a week (usually on some crappy TechnoGym thing with a fan, get OUTSIDE !!) and simply cant shift any more weight. The amount of exercise needed to continue their weight loss is huge, way more than can be fitted into a normal day. So, after ten or so pounds, they give up and blame genetics.
Before we go any further, familiarize yourself with this.
Now, I’m not normally in the business of quoting the BBC given their laughable track record at presenting scientific studies, but I want you to go watch this. Most importantly, the bit with the activity monitor (I’m not concerned about Micheal Mosely pedaling as hard as he can in his living room, and neither should you). You’ll see that the amount of ACTIVITY done in a day greatly increases the amount of calories used. Activity, as opposed to EXERCISE.
We need to make a formal definition here. Exercise as a discrete entity is a relatively arcane thing. That is, movement for the specific purpose of losing weight. TRAINING, on the other hand, has been used for many, many years by many different people. You may think this is just splitting hairs, but I find its an important attitude adjustment people need to make. People glorify the one hour of exercise likes its secret to eternal life. Why is it always one hour (why do PTs seem to only offer one hour sessions?). Whats so important about those sixty minutes? This mentality completely misses the point: you’re so focused on that one hour that the other 23 in the day are almost forgotten.
I make sure that my clients understand the difference. They meet with me to TRAIN, but ACTIVITY has to be sustained on their own (I suspect anyone would want to pay a PT to hang round for eight hours every day). We’ll talk more about training next time.
So how do you increase your activity levels during the day? Well, exercise is a good STARTING point. I love going to the gym, contact its something so ingrained in me it’s actually a necessity. But I’m under no illusion that the 45 minuets I spend BTTW (balls-to-the-wall, if you were wondering …) will get me to where I want to go. So, during the day I remain as active as possible. Little bursts of activity during the day (I have a kettlebell next to my chair) maybe a few yoga poses and a few bodyweight exercises. I pay special attention to moving before and after I eat. And you should to. I lean away from the idea of ’exercise time’ as a distinct part of my day, and instead incorporated movement into anything where possible.
Even if your stuck in an office all day (and I do pity you). Lose the chair, or get a Swiss ball to sit on. Stand up and walk around to take your calls. Every hour or so go run up and down the stairs. Yes you’ll look stupid and yes people will laugh, but they’ll be the same people who complain they can never lose weight.
To be continued …