Saturday, May 22, 2010

Week 18 - In Praise of Excercise!

I'm sharing a bit about EXCERCISE this week. It's truly amazing what you find out when you are open to learning. I feel so refreshed each time I can add more to my mind in regards to benifitting my body and using it to share with others.

I am referring to the interesting stuff I was reading in the Courier Mail weekend magazine ("Stand to Lose" by Gretchen Reynolds, May 15 2010). "The newest science suggests that exercise alone will not make you thin, but it may determine whether you stay thin, if you lose weight." In general, exercise by itself is pretty useless for weight loss, and that's because people often end up consuming more calories when they exercise.  The body likes to remain at whatever weight its used to. So even small changes in energy balance can produce rapid changes in certain hormones associated with appetite.

However, thankfully there has lately been some more encouraging news about exercise and weight loss, especially for women.  If you can somehow pry off the kilos, exercise may be the most important element in keeping the weight off.  "In an experiment 97 healthy, slightly overweight women were put on an 800 calorie diet until they lost an average of about 12kg each.  Some of the women were then assigned to a walking program, some were put on a weight-training program, and others were assigned no exercise; all returned to their old eating habits.  Those who stuck with either of the exercise programs regained less weight than those who didn't exercise and, even more striking, did not regain weight around their middles. The women who didn't exercise regained their weight and preferentially packed on these new kilograms around their abdomens" (very unhealthy).

The most important things about excercise (to me) is that 1) it helps get heaps more oxygen into my body - which is a great and healing thing;  2) it helps to strengthen my muscles and bones, hence helping avoid certain problems later on in life (my oma had shocking osteoporosis, and I have always struggled with back & neck pain);  and 3) it is a physical and emotional stress release that is invaluable in my crazy life.  So, even without the "losing weight" issue it is imperative to me.  Reading another article tonight reminded me again that I won't be able to ever stop the excercising if I want the benefits, as, if the muscle stimulus is not continued, the muscle starts to go back to its original form.  May sound slightly depressing, but I can only see it as more motivation to LOVE it!  If I only see it as a chore, then I will never truly want to be doing it.  Thankfully, it now comes a lot easier to me - to enjoy it, that is.

Also, you can't "spot target" fat reduction!  You can't just decide to do 100 crunches a day to get rid of tummy flab.  It comes off gradually from your total stores as you slowly change the energy/calories-in vs energy-expended-out equation.  And that is why it can be so discouraging when you first start out with an excercise/muscle building program - it takes a while to activate the muscles enough to start to change.  And chances are, you will increase the muscle density (put on added weight) before it begins to work on decreasing your fat stores.  I was pretty discouraged that my weight loss barely changed in the first 9 months I was at the gym (even tho I felt better for it) but that was because I hadn't changed my diet.  Now, after 4 months of really concentrating on the gym and the food intake, I know I am maximising the benefits to my body and can claim 10 kgs weight loss! YAY! 

You cannot convince me otherwise.  If I, a mother of 4 kids, who still has disrupted sleep and who has never in her life been able to get up early for anything & has never really ever frequented a fitness establishment for very long, can look forward to getting up at 5am to go to the gym  - ANYONE CAN!

(And thank you so much to all my sisters who knew all this before me and have lead such a great example!)


  1. Have to agree that it has to be an integrated approach - diet and exercise together. And will add that extremes don't work - Kellie used to go to the gym and do the heavy work-outs every weekday for the endorphins, but didn't lose weight and eventually over-taxed her body so that she can't do her favourite programs anymore and is stuck on the treadmill or bike (boring!!).

  2. Very Dr Amanda - Don't Go Hungry. Finding ways to reduce your weight set point, is tricky and exercise is critical.

  3. Vik, that's why I think PTs are so good - they really know how to train you up and challenge you, without going too far and also knowing how much is enough. Also, give you an overall workout, rather than focussing on what area more than the other - I reckon I'd be an abs queen if left to my own devices......