I thought we would start off this weeks ‘Keeping Fit’ column, with a story, from best selling author and exercise physiologist, Covert Bailey—
"At a recent party, a medical doctor with a good sense of humor gave us all some sample pills. They tasted very sweet and looked suspiciously like M&M's. He insisted that each one of us would feel better if we took his pills if we followed the directions carefully: Take two pills with a glass of water immediately after a half hour of aerobic exercise."
Covert called these magic pills "King Muscle Pills" in his excellent book, Smart Exercise, and rightly so! After spending the last several weeks writing about weight management in the context of our diet and attitudes, we finally get to the good part—the REAL sheep and goat separator—exercise!
Why is Exercise so Important?
So many reasons! For starters, exercise makes demands on every organ in the body—improving the metabolism and efficiency of them all:
• The Liver produces glycogen better.
• Pancreas fine tunes its regulation of insulin and sugar.
• The lungs and heart deliver more oxygen.
• The circulatory system builds more capillaries.
• Blood fats (triglycerides) decrease, good “cholesterol” (HDL) increases.
• Even bones become denser.
• And of course, the muscles themselves change. Their energy producing structures enlarge and their enzymes increase.
"So what?” you may say. But those enzymes are what enable you to burn fat, and the more you have them, the more the muscles learn to burn fat as a fuel (instead of sugar). That means, as Covert Bailey says—“You become a better butter burner!”
Most of us are very out of shape. That means we burn mostly sugar for fuel when exercising, and don't use oxygen well. That puts a very serious dent in our efforts to keep weight off long term.
Dieting Alone vs. Exercise
We already discovered in past columns that restrictive eating or "dieting" kicks on the starvation mechanism. That is, you immediately shed water, your body catabolizes (nibbles on) its lean weight (muscle) for extra energy and to lower metabolic needs, and burns fat s-l-o-w-l-y. That same mechanism, when you go off the diet and eat more food is what restores the fat and stores more if there is insufficient activity. Muscular activity on the other hand, immediately uses up extra energy, and then keeps the body's metabolism burning hotter for an extended time afterward.
So many complain of a slow metabolism, and go looking for better diets—but the "best" diets are the one's that cause you to lose weight the quickest—and that slows your metabolism even more! Only EXERCISE revs up your metabolism, and keeps it burning hotter.
You can see why, then, people who diet only, but don't exercise have such a hard time maintaining their weight loss. Their metabolism has lowered, so that they have to eat too little to maintain the weight loss. In the meantime the starvation mechanism is always sending messages of "feed me" or little cravings because you refuse to eat enough. And...sure enough, either little by little, or in a big binge the weight starts coming back. Statistically, 2/3rd gain the weight back within the year, and most of the remainder do within 5 years. But that doesn't have to be you! Through a proper understanding of a supportive diet for a lifetime and a commitment to exercise, you can take off the weight, and keep it off!
Bradley Wellness Center has put together a supportive plan including exercise, diet and motivation strategies to help you in their “Choose to Lose” class starting in January. If you need help getting your weight under control, we’d love to hear from you! Find out more by calling 706-278-WELL.
Submitted by: Thomas Morrison, Fitness Coordinator, Bradley Wellness Center