Posts Tagged overweight

Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin

Here is a challenging article that John Cloud wrote for Time Magazine’s August 9, 2009 edition. (http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1914857,00.html)
A summary of the main thesis is as follows:

“…The conventional wisdom that exercise is essential for shedding pounds is actually fairly new. As recently as the 1960s, doctors routinely advised against rigorous exercise, particularly for older adults who could injure themselves. Today doctors encourage even their oldest patients to exercise, which is sound advice for many reasons: People who regularly exercise are at significantly lower risk for all manner of diseases — those of the heart in particular. They less often develop cancer, diabetes and many other illnesses. But the past few years of obesity research show that the role of exercise in weight loss has been wildly overstated…

“…The basic problem is that while it’s true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder….

“…Yes, it’s entirely possible that those of us who regularly go to the gym would weigh even more if we exercised less. But like many other people, I get hungry after I exercise, so I often eat more on the days I work out than on the days I don’t. Could exercise actually be keeping me from losing weight?…”

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What’s Your Choice? 50 Years of Denial or 30 Years of Pleasure?

I met a 40-year-old woman yesterday whose husband used to go to the gym religiously and turned into quite a hunk, she told me. She knows what a fit body can look like and the work it takes to make one.

She is now 30 pounds heavier than she was 20 years ago, has a serious cholesterol problem and really intends to start exercising and cutting calories. She’d like to have her old, slimmer shape looking back at her in the mirror. Her only concrete effort so far is cut back her three-cokes-a-day habit (at 150 calories each) to one a day.At least it’s a start.

I told her how I gave up everyday cheese, my favorite source of protein, when my own cholesterol shot up. She said she loves cheese too, and can’t yet stop eating it regularly. Why is it so hard to take those steps to better health? Are we all just too busy? Or too lazy?

My son was impressed by the web site I found of a man who lost over 200 pounds. He found pictures of a different man who lost 400 pounds. Clearly those are horribly unhealthy cases of obesity. Those heavyweights can barely walk to the bathroom is my guess. It’s easy to see that they finally decided to alter their limited, immediate daily activities.

But if you are only 30 pounds heavier than you used to be, what’s the big deal? It’s not that bad, and the food tastes so good, and maybe you won’t continue to gain just a pound or two a year. And maybe the cholesterol won’t keep rising up and blocking arteries and lead to a heart attack. Just maybe.

Last night we went out to dinner, and I ordered the only soup—potato. I started to send it back after it arrived, because it was half cream. I need to avoid dairy products, because I want to keep my cholesterol down. My son said he would eat it, so it stayed.

Now here comes the silly part. With recent stories of two people dying of heart attacks, a friend who says he eats extra calories, because he could die in 10 minutes, and a woman telling me how much she likes cheese, I am sitting at the table wondering why I don’t have at least a taste, one spoonful, of this incredibly delicious-looking soup. After all, I rationalized, I just did 5+ hours of exercise in the last day—more than enough to offset the cholesterol damage that might result.

Absurd, right? No moderation here. Pretty extreme. One damn spoonful. Will I die on the court? If I am going to die, I may as well enjoy some potato soup. So I did. Had four spoonfuls. And swallowed each one so slowly and lovingly that you might have thought I was tasting fine wine or rare caviar. Swirling the juice around on my tongue. What a nutcase I am.

What is the goal, really? Read the rest of this entry »

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