For as I can remember, people have asked me questions about exercise, nutrition and rehabbing new and old injuries. I love answering whatever questions people ask and here is why; when I can educate a person, they become empowered and empowered people take charge of their health. Healthy people build healthy families which invariably equals healthy communities. I don’t think I need to sell you on the value of a healthy community do I?
While everyone is a beautiful and unique snowflake (just like Mom told you!) MOST people tend to ask the same questions. For your reading pleasure, some FAQs and their answers.
Q: I want to lose weight, what is the best way?
A: You are not going to like this answer but this has very little to do with a strict adherence to exercise as we know it. You are right when you think that cardio ( jogging, biking, swimming…) uses fat as it’s fuel source however a good, hard cardio session simply doesn’t burn that many calories. For example, let’s say a 200 pound male (me) sets out on a run and is feeling dangerous! At an 8 mph clip and going for 60 minutes, I can expect to burn 637 calories. (http://www.prohealth.com/weightloss/tools/exercise/calculator1_2.cfm) 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories (4 for carbs and protein, 7 per gram of alcohol) so 637/9=70 grams. A pound of fat weighs 454 grams. So, long story short, you need to run 8 miles a day at a 7.5 minute clip, 6 days a week to lose 1 pound of fat. If 48 miles a week sounds like a bit too much effort for 1 pound, you and I are on the same page. What else accounts 637 calories? A small almond Coldstone ice cream cup, a slice of Costco cake and McDonald’s Southwest chicken wrap all clock in around 650 kcals each.
So what are your options? Eat less. Eat better.
Am I proposing that you shouldn’t do exercise and simply watch your caloric intake? No, I am suggesting both. For whatever reason, daily activities coupled with responsible eating isn’t the answer people want to hear.
Q: I don’t want to lift weights because I’m afraid I’ll bulk up. Is that true?
A: This is a common misconception and while I don’t know where it originated from, I have never heard this question from a man probably because most men would love to be referred to as “bulky”! The concept of bulking up scares a lot of conscientious women who would prefer to accentuate their curves and feminine figure but don’t want big veins, a thick neck and broader shoulders than Gaston. Yeah, that is a Beauty and the beast reference, so what? ;)
Ladies, believe me when I say it is extremely difficult to bulk up. If it was that easy, we would see a whole lot more jacked up women right?
Now, I have received a lot of question about women who want a “toned” appearance and for that goal, weight lifting is right up your alley. You see, muscles have something called fast twitch and slow twitch fibers and every muscle in your body is a mixture of the two. The only way to activate the fast twitch ( Type 2 glycolytic fibers for all you nerds out there) portion of those muscles is to perform fast, hard and heavy exercises. Like what? Sprinting instead of jogging, squats instead of the stair master and shoulder presses instead of swimming. I’m not telling you to ONLY do these exercises or to only weight lift but there must a High Intensity Short Duration (HISD) component to your regimen if you want that coveted “toned” body.
Q: My friend does Cross-Fit and keeps trying to get me to join. I heard it hurts you. What do you think?
A: As a 14 year rugby veteran, I don’t have much authority when it comes to pontificating about activities that are harmful to your health. That being said, if you do reckless things, expect bad results and usually sooner than later. I am not saying Cross fit is reckless but I will say this; poor biomechanics accompanied by a pre-existing reduced range of motion (I just described 90% of this country by the way) coupled with maximal/exhaustive exercise almost always equals injury. Do Cross fit, Rugby, mountain climbing, power walking, yoga or whatever else you want BUT, BUT, BUT make sure you are in a good position to handle the activity first.
Q: I hate going to the gym, what else can I do?
A: Lots of people feel uncomfortable going to the gym for numerous reasons (“it is overwhelming”, “it seems like an endless fashion show”, “people sit down to text on my favorite machines” or even the dreaded locker room experience. There is a plethora of activities that don’t require a squat machine and here is a couple examples of *free* sample programs.
My good friend Dr. Tommy John has a theory about working out that can only be explained by watching some of his movement videos. For example, he never lifts anything over 3lbs but performs each movement perfectly for hundreds of reps. Check out his page below but beware, he might blow your mind. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClnvIBpt74qXkkLVEERhOUw I have done body weight movements for a long time now and if done correctly, can be an effective method for maintaining your fitness with minimal risk for injury and thus, dropout.
As I wrap this message up, I have a couple points I would like you to remember:
All exercise is active however all activity is not exercise. Dancing, yoga, walking, gardening and shadow boxing are all exercise. Walking to the fridge to grab some Chinese leftovers may count as steps on your Fitbit but it certainly isn’t exercise.
There is no panacea for health but let’s be honest with ourselves, we all know how to get healthy. Daily activity, proper nutrition, positive mental outlook, quality sleep and correct spinal functioning have been and continue to be the only tried and true path to physical health. If you aren’t currently doing one of the above mentioned “pillars of health”, I would encourage you to seek out a professional in that field and fix your deficits. I have several personal trainers, dieticians and therapists that I would be glad to refer you to.
Lastly, no one is going to kick down your door and force you to make better choices. If a change is required, the change needs to come from YOU! That being said, you will need a support system moving forward. My advice is to find someone who knows what they are talking about and let them educate you. If you want to learn French, you get a French tutor right? Don’t be afraid to employ the experts, they are the experts for a reason.
All the best health,
Dr. Zach and the Foundation Chiropractic team.