“The men who made us thin”

Practicing warrior pose so that I can enjoy a bun later !

Practicing warrior pose so that I can enjoy a bun later !

Have you been watching Jacques Peretti’s series “The men who made us thin” (or indeed his earlier documentary “The men who made us fat”)? I’ve watched them all with interest and in a slight departure from my usual blogs, today I’d like to pick up on a point made quite strongly in last week’s episode.

Jacques Peretti reported that exercise will not help us to loose weight. Wow! This made me really prick up my ears. I cannot get my head around the logic or science behind this message at all. How can this be? All my life I have been led to believe that if you want to loose weight, calories in need to be less than calories out. I fully accept that I am no scientist, but that to me is a very simple, logical equation.

At one point in the programme, it seemed that a leading scientist in metabolism was effectively saying that just sitting around burns 75 calories an hour, so why bother doing anything else? And furthermore, that if you did exercise, you would be less active for the rest of the day to make up for this surge of calorie usage. This really got me thinking! Why do I bother doing any exercise at all?

Actually the answers to this question came to me very quickly:

  • It lifts my mood.
  • Boosts my energy levels (I certainly do not find that I have to rest more if I’ve exercised, quite the reverse, for example, at Christmas, when I get less opportunity to exercise, the less I find I want to do and the more I feel sluggish and lethargic).
  • The boost exercise gives to my circulation enhances my immune system (if ever I’m feeling under par, 9 out of 10 times I feel better for exercise).
  • My skin looks brighter.
  • With the right balance of exercise I can tone and strengthen my body, build stamina and keep flexible, improving the condition of my back and joints – all of which make me feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.
  • I find that if I am exercising I am more inclined to eat healthier. I’m listening to my body and responding to it’s needs.
  • My quality of sleep is much improved.

As I write a yoga blog, it won’t surprise you that I have a daily yoga practice. Sometimes it’s dynamic, other times it’s still and restorative and it varies in length, dependent on what is going for me that day. On the occasions I don’t get chance to practice I can certainly tell a difference – I’m stiffer, I’m not quite as calm or focused and somehow my day just doesn’t seem to go as smoothly. This to me, is reason enough to do my yoga.

I also do plenty of dog walking and go to “Boot Camp” once a week (an heroic effort on my part!), and I generally eat a healthy diet, but if I fancy a cake I have one, and I feel I can do that, because I am using up calories by being generally active. If this is isn’t the case and exercise really doesn’t have an effect on weight, then how come long distance runners are always so lean?  I believe balance is the key.

Obviously, I can see the logic that it’s no good eating nothing but sweets and fast food, then doing an hour’s yoga class or one gym workout a week and wondering why you are not losing weight (it comes back to my equation at the beginning of this piece!). Equally though, I don’t think that just eating a reduced calorie diet and not doing any exercise is particularly healthy either. Isn’t it about embracing a healthy lifestyle? There are so many benefits to exercising over and above simple weight loss, that I’m not sure that giving out the message that exercise doesn’t work if you want to loose weight was particularly helpful.

I’m interested in hearing your views on exercise. If I’ve missed the point of the programme and someone can explain it to me clearly I’d love to hear from you too. Normal blogging service resumed next time 😉 Ix

 

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