Thursday, August 06, 2009

Sweeter Words Have Never Been Spoken

"In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless."
- Eric Ravussin, Chair in Diabetes and Metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher.

That excerpt is from an article I recently read in the latest issue (08/17/09) of Time magazine titled, "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin" by John Cloud.

I guess hearing those words from a prominent exercise researcher means more than hearing it from me. I've been saying this very thing for years but I didn't get quoted in Time magazine. Granted, I'm not skinny, but apparently I've saved myself from spending hours on the dreadmill, years on the StairMaster and hundreds of dollars on gym memberships. The article went on to say, "In short, it's what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that matters in losing weight."
I proved this very point a few years ago when I did an eight week weight loss challenge with a few friends of mine. My friend "Gwen" was fiercely competetive. She was determined to lose the most weight and I know for sure she thought she'd be the one to collect the money we had all been pooling together for the winner; four hundred dollars worth of money.

She worked out five days a week, hired a power-lifter to teach her how to do squats and crunches, dead lifts and cardio. She did extra cardio at home when she wasn't at the gym and pushed herself until she was so red in the face, sweat pouring down her neck, that I thought she was going to have a stroke.

I commented to another friend of mine that I was so surprised that she wasn't kicking ass in the contest because she worked out more than anyone, as far as I knew. I even stayed at her house for a few weeks and knew she wasn't indulging in treats she shouldn't be having; not in front of me anyway.

But she lost. Not the weight, the contest. At the end of eight weeks, I lost twenty pounds, she lost eight and I had an extra four hundred dollars in my pocket.

The way I lost weight was to decrease my caloric intake. I didn't want to exercise. Hated to exercise. I would rather do without, food-wise, than to sweat on a treadmill for an hour. I think it bothered Gwen that she was working probably three times as hard and not getting anywhere. She always had some excuse as to why she wasn't losing. She was retaining water, or drinking sports drinks that had sugars she didn't realize it had, or muscle weighed more than fat and she must have been bulking up, or she was sick, or her sinuses were bothering her or she pulled a muscle and couldn't work out as hard. Every time she weighed in and didn't lose, there was a reason for it. Nevermind that she was busting her ass with her power lifter friend. Her muscles must have weighed as much as the barbell he was lifting because as my pounds melted off, hers stayed the same. Bummer.

As the article stated, and as I've read in several places recently, it seems they are finding out that working out stimulates your appetite and because of that, people who work out tend to eat more. They think they can "reward" themselves because they sweated like swines in their spinning class. I do believe some exercise is beneficial and offers some health benefits, like maybe loosening up your joints so things like elbows, knees and hips don't ache; but the article also stated, "You should exercise to improve your health, but be warned, fiery spurts of vigorous energy could lead to weight gain." Hmmm.

And my very favorite part of the article, which brings me such glee as I can continue to sit on my ass, because it's so efficient at burning calories, was this passage:

"According to calculations published in the journals Obesity Research by a Columbia University team...a pound of muscle burns approximately six calories a day in a resting body, compared with the two calories that a pound of fat burns. Which means that after you work out hard enough to convert, say, 10 lbs. of fat to muscle - a major achievement - you would be able to eat only an extra 40 calories per day, about the amount in a teaspoon of butter, before beginning to gain weight. Good luck with that."

In conclusion, I may not be thin today or anytime soon, but I'll tell you right now that I am not willing to join the workout nation on their treadmills and stairmasters, in their step-aerobic and spinning classes and during their crunch and sit-up counting sessions just so I can have what amounts to three-quarters of an Oreo cookie.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
More Proof I Ate At A Sushi Place
North Sally Port
Holy Cow!


Evil Pixie said...

A few years ago I went on a diet. I lost 80 pounds in roughly 6 months. How did I do it? I stopped eating. Seriously. I actually stopped eating. I consumed no more than 800 calories a day - if even that! - and absolutely no exercise. Of course, the minute I upped my intake to 1200 calories, I started gaining weight again. My point is I knew exercise wasn't going to cut it. In fact, everyone I know who has dieted knew exercise doesn't matter. It's nice to know the "experts" are catching up with us. :)

Hedon said...

All I have to say is... muwahahah!

Like we didn't all know that all along. Stace is going to be tap-dancing around the truck when she reads this. Oh wait... that might be viewed as exercise...

Stace said...

Definitely NOT tap-dancing. I am, however, feebly waving my arms in the air. For like a second.


Decorina said...

Stace, somehow I missed this. But I knew it already...just like the rest of you. I always lose weight by cutting calories. Exercise? Rather run through hell in gasoline underpants.