Diet: Exercise – The Literal First Step

Huh?  Wha?  What’s . . . what’s going on?  Why is my alarm set to 6 am?  What the hell was I thinking last night?

What?  Jump rope?  What the hell are you talking about?

What?  No.  Get the fuck away from me.

Fuck you, running shoes.  I ain’t getting’ up for nothin’.

It’s 6 am, I’m not going for a jog.  No.  No!  Go bother my roommate, he’s an athlete and is into this kinda shit.  Leave me alone.  I said no!

FINE!  FINE!  You want me to go jogging, you pestering, inanimate footwear that is somehow alarmingly animate today?  I’ll jog!  I’LL JOG YOU STRAIGHT INTO THE GROUND UNTIL YOU’RE DEAD AND BACK ON THE HOOVES OF SATAN WHERE YOU BELONG!  AUUUUUGGGGHHHHH!

Just like I try to get out of it in the morning, I’ve put off talking about exercising since I’ve started blogging about weight-loss.  There are numerous reasons for this;

  • I wanted to emphasize on what you eat and focus on just how much more important it is to your health.  If you don’t get your diet right, no amount of exercise is going to lead to long-lasting weight-loss.
  • Unlike food, which everyone around you your entire life has either been wrong or lying to you about (okay, no gross generalizations . . . MOSTLY everyone), every single P.E. teacher and little league coach and surly grandfather has been telling you to shut off the television and go exercise more.  Even on television, people are telling you that exercise is a good thing.

    Granted, some didn't work as well as others.

So I wasn’t sure I’d really be giving any new information on the subject.

  • I didn’t want to distract myself by putting too many subjects on the table at once.  I can get side-tracked pretty easily.  For example, that cartoon I used of Goofy above took me twenty minutes to find.  I started off looking for an example to use from Captain Planet, but when I couldn’t find one I started researching the episodes one by one because I was sure they had a PSA type of message at some point.  Then I forgot what I was looking it up for, and then had to read my article from the very beginning to see what the hell I was talking about, and . . . wait, what am I doing again?  Give me a sec.

Oh, right.  Exercise.

  • Look, are you going to make me say I’m “really lazy” one more time?  I’ve said it at least a dozen times since starting this god damn blog, and I hope you would have gotten the message by now.

But despite all of those reasons, I have come to the point where I have to talk about working out because it is vital to weight-loss and there is no way around it.  I still maintain that what you put in your body is far more important than what you do with it, but that doesn’t mean that exercising isn’t important.  It’s not just a crucial part of losing weight; it’s a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle.

“But Nic,” I’m imagining you saying right now, “I do have an active lifestyle.  I don’t need to work out.”  Now, I’m not calling you a liar, but I’m pretty sure you’re full of shit.  If you are at least 25 lbs. away from where you want to be, you don’t move nearly enough, and what you consider “exercise” is a bunch of cow poo-poo.

No, Wii Sports does not count as fucking exercise.  Walking to the mailbox does not count as working out.  Dancing just until the point where you start to breathe is doing nothing for you.  Whereas the ideas you have had about food were wrong because you were taught the wrong things, your ideas about exercise are wrong because you don’t want to feel uncomfortable.  I understand the aversion to working out; the sweat, the hard breathing, the sore muscles, the fear of others’ scorn.  All of these things make exercising for a prolonged period of time a scary thing, but they are only excuses not to exercise and they are silly excuses.  There are no good reasons to forgo exercise.  The health benefits of an active lifestyle are too numerous to list, so I’ll just pick the most important points.

Shit, I’m going to have to do research again, aren’t I?  God dammit.

YOUR MOOD

One of the things that happen when you are regularly active for a prolonged period of time is your body starts to pump your system with endorphins.  Endorphins are neurotransmitters that act as an opiate, meaning they are essentially “liquid awesome”.  They help numb pain and discomfort and can cause a feeling of what Wikipedia describes as “Well-being” and I describe as “Feeling Really Really Really Fucking Cool”.

Yes, even cooler than this.

This feeling can last for hours, even days, after working out, leading to you feeling like you deserve sexual acts performed on you every where you go during that time.  You just feel good, and that makes you a happier person.  Now how long that lasts, especially once you realize you’re not going to get all those sexual favors you feel you so rightly deserve, is another issue and something I claim absolutely no responsibility for.

YOUR BRAIN

Along with filling your body with endorphins, exercise also increases dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine, and serotonin production in the brain which aides in your cognitive abilities (such as your attention span, your reasoning abilities and ability to apply knowledge).  It also promotes the growth of new nerve cells and synaptic plasticity, which aide in your memory and ability to concentrate.

It can also help reverse alcohol-induced brain damage.  There isn’t empirical proof of that yet, but I can say that before I started working out I could barely spell my own name.

Which was, honestly, the least of my problems.

YOUR HEART

The benefits of exercise and your body are extensive, but if I had to pick what the biggest benefit was it would be the effects of exercise on the heart, although that’s sort of a weak way of thinking about it.  The more proper way to think of it is “The Effects of Not Exercising on the Heart”.  How much you are physically inert has a direct effect on your cardiovascular system.  The less you exercise, the more likely you are to get coronary heart disease.  And this isn’t the “More Likely To Get” that you hear in some bullshit “medical” study about cancer (e.g. – the more you drink from water bottles frozen in a freezer, the more likely you are to get cancer).  No, there are many well-documented, peer-reviewed, and internationally accepted studies that show an inactive lifestyle is an independent risk factor (that means it’s really true) to heart disease, and lowers all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality.

Do you run out of breath getting up and going to the bathroom?  Do you legs get swollen and get sore for no observable reason?  Does walking, even for fifteen minutes on a level plane, cause you to feel like you brain is boiling and you’re going to cough up most of your organs?  All of these things are symptoms of congestive heart failure, which is a sciencey way of saying your heart is on its way to just stopping all of sudden, anywhere at anytime.  In the case of your heart the price for not working out is too high.

Remember, the journey to weight-loss has to start with the journey to getting healthy, and being active is crucial to being healthy.  I know it’s scary; remember, I’ve been there, so I’m not talking out of my ass when I say I know how hard it seems.  But what’s scarier is the idea that you could be in the restroom, on the toilet, reliving those enchiladas you ate last night, giving it one final push when your heart just decides to give up the ghost and stops pumping.  All because you refused to do some jumping jacks.

"I'm also stopping because you listen to shitty music."

I don’t mean to use scare tactics to get you to run a little, but you need to start to focus less on what exercise gives you and more on what you’re missing by not doing it, and it’s not even that hard.  Trust me, out of all the things I had to learn and do to lose weight, exercising was by far the easiest.  A few push ups are simple.  That banana cream pie sitting in the corner, on the other hand, is a much greater challenge by far.

And what I'm doing with this in the corner of my room is none of your business.

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