Diet: Exercise – Aerobics

I’m going to lay it out on the line – if you’re a large person who is not just looking to lose weight, but also looking to improve your health and change your life, then most of your exercise is going to have to consist of aerobic exercise. 

Do you see what I did there?  With the underlining?  Because I said I’m going to lay it on the –

Fine, fine.

Aerobics are going to be your main exercise for awhile because it is going to improve one thing you need for all exercises: Endurance.  I have seen people run out of breath while getting up, going to the kitchen, returning and sitting down.  It took less than three minutes, but I could see the red complexion and tiny beads of sweat that people get after a twenty minute hike.  I have mentioned the concept before, but exercising and getting fit is not about weight loss.  I don’t want to pigeon-hole anyone, but if you’re trying to lose thirty or more pounds, odds are you aren’t healthy.  If I have to explain to you why it is better for your overall health and well-being to be able to jog at least twenty goddamn minutes as opposed to passing out from exertion trying to get out of bed, then you know what?  I get to be hella-sarcastic while doing so.

Because who likes breathing fresh air and seeing sunshine, or living long enough to see your grandchild graduate from high school, am I right?

Until you are strong enough to be able lift your own bodyweight and or walk up a flight of stairs without vomiting, you’re not ready to start losing weight.  But enough nagging.  Suffice it to say, aerobic exercise is about training your heart, muscles, lungs and mind (i.e.- your body) to be able to handle the stress of weight loss.  Now let’s get to the part where I list off some shit, spout some scientific facts that I’m sure I’m using incorrectly, and put funny captions to pictures that may or may not be related to what I’m talking about.  Besides, that nagging tone makes me feel like an asshole.

Oh, hardee har har.

I found one place on the internet saying the literal definition of aerobic means “living in air”, but that sounds like a load of new age bullshit to me.  Another definition I found said it meant “of oxygen”, which sounds a little more likely.  Whatever the literal meaning is, aerobic refers to the use of oxygen in cellular respiration, which is a fancy way of saying metabolism.  I could try to explain the chemistry behind aerobic metabolism but I’d have to understand it first, and since I need to be naked to count to twenty-one, I don’t think my understanding is going to deepen anytime soon.  Just know that aerobic is synonymous with oxygen, and anything that uses oxygen to grow is called an aerobic organism.

Now in regards to fitness, “aerobics” is just a shortened version of “aerobic exercise”, the definition of which is “exercise that derives most of its energy from aerobic metabolism”.  It’s not hard to understand the shortening of the phrase but it sure does make for a bland article.  I have used the word in one form or another more than ten times since the beginning of this article, and I haven’t even reached one page yet.  I’m going to choose another word for it for the time being, just to add some color.  How about . . . . . . . . looperdafilic?  Looperdafilic exercises are ones that can be maintained at a constant pace for a prolonged period of time.  Neither working too fast nor too slow, these exercises will keep you working at about 60% – 70% of your Maximum Heart Rate.

"The Zone."

It’s important to note that TIME and HEART RATE are crucial to successful looperdalific exercise.  If your heart rate gets to high, you stop fueling looperdalfic metabolism, and starts fueling anaerobic metabolism and you’re not ready for that kind of intense workout yet.  You’ll hit a wall long before you do any kind of long-lasting benefit, and to burn through your energy stores too quickly could have a reverse effect (something to do with burning so much sugar that your body floods your system with more insulin than it needs).  Keeping your heart rate “in the zone” is going to be vital for you to start making progress.

As for time, if you want to get better at whatever exercise you choose you’re going to have to aim to do it for at least twenty minutes.  While all movement of your body burns calories, many of those calories are just going to be the ones on top (the calories you have consumed that very day).  To start working off of your stored fat, your body needs to be burning calories for a minimum of twenty minutes and it only starts burning fat after those twenty minutes.  This means you’re shooting for a workout time of at least half an hour if you want to see results.

The key to aerobic exercise.

You could up the intensity of your workout to save time, but then your heart rate goes up and you start to get closer to burning out.  Endurance is not about going as hard as you can, it’s about going for as long as you can.  You’re just going to have to commit half an hour of your life a few times a week, and maybe even a little more, if you want your body to adapt and get stronger.  That may seem like a lot of time, but it’s better than watching that rerun of The Dick Van Dyke show for the eightieth time.

Honestly, how many times can you watch him fall over that thing?

It’s not just about the calorie burn, it’s about building up the muscles, training your heart and getting your head used to spending that amount of time constantly moving.  Even if you start just by briskly walking for half an hour (which is a great way to start), just getting used to being active for that length of time is going to help you.

While many exercises are actually consider aerobic exercise, I’m just going to list what I think of the main four because I’m getting close to three pages and I just can’t see people sitting and reading my blather through more than that.

Jogging

One day, Running and Walking got together, fell in love, and had a baby.  That baby was named Jogging, and he became the ultimate aerobic exercise that can be done anywhere and at anytime.  You don’t need much to do it (theoretically you don’t even need shoes), and can be done in any kind of weather and on any kind of terrain.  Providing a much higher heart rate than walking, and yet slower than running and providing the jogger with more time to enjoy the scenery, jogging is almost the perfect exercise.  Although the primary focus is on the legs, when done correctly it gets every part of your body moving.  The pace is easy to adjust, and it trains you in moving your body at the drop of a hat in case dinosaurs ever reemerge as the dominant species on the planet.

The downside is that jogging is also the hardest on your body.  You are constantly throwing your weight around and stopping your weight with your legs, and the impact can just kill every single one of your joint below the waist.  It is also torturous for people with back problems and, if attempted, will leave them lying in bed and writhing in pain.

If jogging is your exercise of choice, start by mapping out a route around your neighborhood.  The route should take no more than forty minutes for you to walk.  When setting out to exercise, power walk (walk fast) the route.  At the last stretch (when you can see your house, or about 50 yards), up your pace to a slight jog until you reach the end.  Do this everyday, and as the route gets easier lengthen the route and up the entire pace a notch.  Keep doing this until you are always jogging.

Bicycle

As opposed to jogging, cycling is a very low impact exercise.  It’s also great as it can double for a mode of transportation, preparing you for the day when that automobile of yours breaks down (which it will eventually do).  It’s main and only focus is the legs, and boy howdy will it make a difference on those.  Thanks to riding my bike everyday during my school years, I have calves the size of whole chickens.

The downside is that you have to by extra equipment.  While a bicycle is cheap, riding on the streets isn’t always a work out (especially if you have to wait for traffic lights) and can often times be hazardous.  And the alternative of buying a stationary cycle will set you back at least a couple of hundred dollars.  Cycling is a great way to lose weight, it just starts in your wallet.

To start cycling, you do pretty much the same thing as jogging only the distances are greater.  If you have a stationary bike, start by going for a half hour at an easy pace and slowly going for longer and harder as you get better.

Stairs

Climbing stairs is the most intense out of all of these four.  Its one thing to push your body forward, but it’s another to push it up at the same time.  What momentum you have while jogging is completely dissipated when going up stairs, which means every step feels like the first.  But it also gets your heart rate up tout suite, which means you will be able to spend more time exercising in “the zone”.  It’s also relatively low on impact, since you don’t have to stop your own weight on your foot.

The bad news about stairs is that when you get to the top, you have to go back down, which also adds the high impact back into the exercise.  If you live in a city near tall buildings, you can take the elevator down, but be prepared for some extremely odd looks.

The best way to train at stairs is to record how many times you can go up the stairs in a certain time period.  Then every workout after that, strive to fit more and more into the time frame.  If you fall short during a routine, screw the set time length and keep going until you finish.

Swimming

This is an exercise that uses the entire body, has absolutely zero impact, and it is just downright fun.  It also puts more attention on your breathing, as having air in your lungs helps keep you from drowning.  Needing even less equipment than jogging (theoretically, you don’t even needs clothes).

The downsides are that, unless you live near the ocean (the temperature of which is dictated by the weather) or a pool, you’ll need to go an extra step to get to a large body of water.  Using a kiddie pool or a bath tub simply doesn’t work.  It is also the most revealing and can cause major anxiety problems if you have body image issues (don’t worry, most people do).  It’s one thing to be large and jogging down the street in sweat pants, it’s another to take your shirt of in public and dive into water.

I’ve never swam strictly for exercise, so I don’t know how to start.  I figure it’s like everything else (set a distance, speed and time) but just done in water.

Not quite what I meant.

Are there more?  Of course!  But my job is only to open the doorway a little and insult you a little while doing so.  Have I insulted you yet?  No?  That’s a silly haircut!  HAHA, job accomplished!

. . .

I’m sorry, that was mean.  Your hair looks fine.  Happy looperdafilic exercise, everyone!

Diet – Exercise: Breathing

“But Nic,” you say to me, an incredulous grin spreading across your face, “I know how to breathe.  I’ve been doing it, literally, since I was born.  I don’t need your help on this.”

You fool.  You poor, ignorant, and yet extremely beautiful (who says you can’t score friends with flattery?), dumb bastard.  My heart goes out to you, it really does, for when I am jogging up my 30thflight of stairs with 25 lbs of paper strapped to my back and singing “Tea for the Tillerman” by Cat Stevens, you will still be laying a few yards from our starting point, face down in the dirt, flecks of dust working their way into every crevice of your features and with sweat and tears running together and mixing with the soil to create a sad, sad, sad mud mask.  “It’s not that you don’t know how to breathe,” I will laugh once I reach the top, “it’s just that you’re doing it wrong.”

FITNESS!

I’m not going to use this article to extrapolate on how breathing keeps you alive.  If you haven’t come to the conclusion that breathing in oxygen isn’t one of the most single important acts you will ever do on this planet, then I have nothing I can teach you.  Nor will this be an article saying that you can lose weight simply by breathing.  Yes I’ve seen the websites and have heard the claims, but until all the doctors around the world agree it works, I’m going to stick with the things I know work.  Besides, we are starting to talk about exercise and working out, and how you can use these activities to lose massive amounts of weight and change your life, and when it comes to that the status quo or fancy-ass, new-age bullshit is simply not enough.

You'd have better luck losing weight by using the sword to chop off a limb.

You have to realize that this journey is not just about weight-loss, it’s about training your body and making it stronger because losing a lot of weight is hard work.  Start thinking of weight-loss as an Olympic sport; it’s something you need to aggressively prepare for, and something you will have to work long hours for weeks and months on end to even be ready to play in the games.  And before you lift one weight, take one step on the running track, you have to be able to control your breathing or it will take you twice as long to achieve your goals.

THE SIMPLE RUN DOWN OF YOUR BREATH WHEN YOU EXERT YOURSELF

1. You start to do some sort of physical activity, maybe with the idea of exercising in mind.  Jogging down your street, or walking up some stairs, or running away from a bear after you have stolen one of its cubs; whatever.

2. As you start to move your body more and use muscles in your legs and arms and many other places (because while running away from the big bear you’re also fighting off the enraged bear cub in your arms), those muscles are going to start calling out to your brain saying that they need more resources or else they’re going to fail and you’ll be eaten by a large ursus arctos.

Large Angry Animals - The Best Motivation Around

3. Your brain, calling out to the other stations in your body, declares that the legs need to go faster and so require more energy.  “But the normal batteries are almost drained, Sire,” the metabolism will scream back in a Scottish accent.  “THEN USE THE RESERVES, DAMN YOU!”

4. So the body starts dipping into the reserved fuel it has kept for such emergencies, created by fat and carbohydrates.  But to process the fuel and turn it into energy in the quickest way possible, it also has to up the oxygen levels in the body as well as use up more stored water to start the important chemical reaction to create more power.  “LUNGS, WE NEED YOU TO WORK HARDER SO WE ALL DON’T DIE!!!”

5. The lungs, one of the postal workers of your body as they never get a day off, shoots back a, “Righteo!” and starts gulping more oxygen to meet the body’s demands.

6. But the muscles also scream, “WE NEED MORE AIR TOO!  WE’RE SUFFOCATING DOWN HERE!!!”  So the lungs start taking in even more air and redirecting it to both your energy-processing plant and your muscles.

7. To get the oxygen everywhere it needs to go in time, the lungs call out to their brother-in-arms, the heart, for back up.  The heart wastes no time and starts beating faster, delivering oxygen and water to the entire body through your blood.

8. Your metabolism gets the air and water and begins to transform the carbs and fat into energy, which it sends to your muscles.  The muscles also get a big dose of oxygen and water which give it an extra boost.  The brain, who’s really just a big, smart drug dealer, also sends out endorphins to the rest of the body to help numb the pain of the physical labor.

"Trust me, this is the shit!" - Your Brain

9. The brain, also sensing your body is beginning to overheat, activates the hypothalamus and begins redirecting water to your skin via your sweat glands.  As the sweat evaporates into the air, the skin cools, and the brain is able to monitor your temperature via a control panel right behind your eyes.

10.  As the muscles use up the energy and oxygen, they also create some toxic waste in the form of lactic acid (a kind of  . . . uh . . . acid, that can be processed by the liver to create more glucose) and carbon dioxide.  As the blood delivers fresh oxygen to the muscles, the muscles say, “HERE!” and throw this waste into the blood stream.  From there it is taken back to the lungs, where the blood says, “Uhhhhhh, we don’t know what to do with this,” and the lungs take it and breathe it out as you exhale.

And so this cycle continues, allowing you to keep running from the bear for as long as you can keep this system in balance.  You’re probably still gonna die because the bear’s system is a hell of a lot stronger than yours, and there’s that whole “Mother’s Instinct” thing at play, but at least you won’t shame us all by dying in the first five minutes.

This is the basic routine your body goes through every single time you exercise and it’s important to learn because it stresses the need for two things.  One, which is water, I have already spoken about.  The other is oxygen, and it’s vital that you understand how important it is to creating energy.  To keep with the over-simplification theme I’ve got going on today, here’s a simple equation:

WATER + OXYGEN = FAT BURN = ENERGY = MORE STAMINA & STRENGTH

Your body needs to use water and air to process fuel into energy, so if you’re breathing right, the above equation is bound to take place inside of your body thereby setting of a chain reaction that will feed itself.  But if you aren’t breathing correctly, if you don’t have enough oxygen in your system, the equation simply doesn’t happen.  Like, at all.

So what are the wrong ways to breathe?

  • Breathing too shallow (not breathing in deeply enough), which will not supply enough air to your body.
  • Breathing too fast (short rapid breaths), which will not give the body enough time to absorb the oxygen.
  • Breathing too slow and/or deeply, which will not give the body ample time to expel all the carbon dioxide and cause the lactic acid to build up in your muscles.

And it’s not just with aerobics; you also need to breathe correctly while lifting weights or stretching.  The things that can happen to you by not breathing properly include, but are not limited to:

– A side stitch (intense-stabbing pain under the lower edge of the ribcage)
– Lightheadedness
– Dizziness
– Nausea
– Full muscle failure, which is what happens when too much lactic acid builds up in the body
– Cramps
– Nose Bleeds
– Blacking Out
– Passing Out
– Organ Damage and/or Failure
– Overheating
– Death (I mean, you’d probably die if all of these things happened to you at once)

That's how the dinosaurs went extinct.

So what is the right way to breathe?  Well, not doing any of the above, for one thing.  But it’s also about control, not just the speed at which you’re breathing.  While doing aerobics, you should be able to hold a leisurely conversation without having to gasp for air.  And after you are finished exercising, you should be able to return to a relatively normal breathing pattern within thirty seconds or so.  While lifting weights, you want to exhale while exerting (e.g. the push up part of the push up, or when you life a weight instead of lowering it), or else you might burst a blood vessel in your eye, among other things.  While stretching, you always want to exhale going into the stretch.

I have no joke for this, I just wanted to show a cute girl stretching.

But this also has to do with how hard you push your body, which is why you can’t go balls to the wall when you first begin exercising.  Take a look at that equation again.  Do you notice how burning fat is not the final step in the process, but rather it is the second step?  The people who believe that weight-loss is at the end of the equation end up working too hard when they start off, and they either fail or injure themselves.  That is because their bodies had not been trained enough to handle the stress.  You need to focus on making yourself stronger and increasing your stamina so that you can one day race up a mountain without stopping.  But the extreme feats come at the end, not the beginning, and if you make your goals about strength and vitality, when you finally achieve those goals, guess what?  YOU’VE LOST TONS OF WEIGHT!

"OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!"

But that’s for later.  For right now, just concentrate on your breathing while taking a walk.  Focus on breathing in and out in a constant, steady stream.  Don’t try to fill your lungs too much, nor exhale all the air out either.  When you get the hang of it (when you start to breathe that way automatically whenever you begin to move), up the speed of your gait.  You will find that you will need to speed up your breathing as well, which is fine, just always keep control.  If you find it hard to carry on a conversation (or if you’re alone, singing a song), don’t try to compensate with your lungs.  Instead, slow down to a simple trot again.  If you ever feel dizzy or light-headed, stop walking, sit down and breathe normally until the dizziness goes away.  The day will come when you find yourself pushing your body to its utmost limits, but for today just focus on breathing in and out.  In and out.

In . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and out.

 

Diet – Exercise: Stretch, Lift, Move

I’ve been looking at this picture I threw up in my last post for a week now, and it’s sort of depressing me because it takes a lot of things I wanted to talk about and quickly summarizes it with bold capital letters and bright colors.  I need to keep these posts lasting for another six months, at least, and that graph is stealing my thunder.   Frankly, I relieved.  I’ve started to sweat just thinking about exercise so I am going to use this time to play some solitaire and maybe do some whittling.  Goodnight!

. . .

Trust me, that graph has everything you need.  Just keep looking at that graph, aim for one of the yellow zones, and go at it.  You’ll figure things out.  Good luck!

. . .

Look, just put on some sweat pants and start moving!  I’ll be back next week to cheer you on, or whatever.  You’ll get a lot of things wrong, but don’t worry, I’ll let you know what every little thing is in extraordinary detail.  NOW GO FORTH AND EXERCISE!!!

"But you said . . ."

All right, Mr/Mrs SmartyPants.  If you’re going to use my own words against me, then I’ll just have to put my whittling knife back under my pillow next to the brass knuckles and baby teeth (the Tooth Fairy pays up no matter where they came from), and talk about the different types of exercise so you don’t feel so “neglected”.  But this is a two-way street, fella; if you’re making me ignore my much beloved whittlin’ to talk about exercise, I’m gonna make you do some.  So start jogging in place.  I’ll even do it with you.  Right now.  I mean it.  START JOGGING!!!

Almost all exercises can be categorized into three different groups; Flexibility, Aerobic and Anaerobic.  Each one focuses on different areas of your body and each one is needed to make your body as strong as possible.  It is important to note, once again, that none of the forms of exercise are designed to help you to lose weight.  The main goal is to make your entire body be able to last longer, get stronger and move in every single way it can without causing pain.  It is also important to note that, although your body will be incredibly sore for a long time once you start exercising, it should not be causing real pain.  The saying “No Pain, No Gain” really should be changed to “No Hellish Unending Soreness That You Would Kill Your Parents and Most of You Loved Ones to Never Feel Again, No Gain” because anytime you feel pain higher than the ‘I Got An Owey-Boo-Boo’ level, you should stop and sit down.  Get used to reading this because I’m gonna say it as many times as I said that starvation is not dieting in the food portion.

It's an epidemic, not a regime.

HAVE YOU STOPPED JOGGING WHO SAID YOU COULD STOP JOGGING GET UP OUTTA THE CHAIR AND JOG, YA BASTARD, IF YOU THINK READING WHILE JOGGING IS HARD, TRY TYPING AND JOGGING.

So let’s start off on the three kinds of exercises you’ll need to be doing to make your body stronger, leaner, faster and more capable of helping you burn fat.  Let’s begin with the one I really should have had us do before we started jogging in place.

Flexibility

*Sniff Sniff* "Who smells like ass?"

Your flexibility refers to your body’s range of motion, which is how far your body can twist, extend and bend, and the act of exercising your range of motion is called stretching.  The image that probably pops into your mind is a person trying to touch their toes, or a gymnast performing splits, and your impression might be that stretching only has to do with muscles.  But I said at the beginning I’d point out when you were wrong as fuck and I’m not going to disappoint.  Yes, stretching has to do with muscles, but it also has to do with tendons, ligaments, joints and a slew of other things that all impact your range of motion.  If you have ever pulled a tendon or bruised a joint, you understand how much these things can inhibit (or allow) how well you can move.

The point is that stretching is not just something you do before and after exercising (which you should do each and every time, without exception) but something you should do for its own virtue.  Not only can stretching be a preventative measure against injuries and act as healing factor for sore muscles, but it also helps improve balance and agility which are things that a lot of large people entirely lack.

More importantly, and forgive the new age lingo, but it helps you to get in touch with your body.  When I was large, my connection to my body was something I tried to deny and forget; that it was merely a large and fatty vessel housing my brain.  The result of this was that I stopped sensing my body, stopped feeling it in real time.  Unlike many exercises in which speed is a big factor, stretching is meant to be taken slowly and the process of taking your time with a stretch will make you feel parts of your body you had not even realized were there.  This is a very important sense to redevelop if you are trying to lose weight because you can not improve something about yourself if you don’t know what it is.

Aerobics

Aerobic exercises are ones that are generally low in intensity and that get your heart pumping, but not too fast.  The term aerobic refers to how our bodies use oxygen to help give us energy when our heartbeats reach a certain rate.  These are the kinds of exercises people think of when you say exercising: Jogging, biking, swimming, jumping jacks, climbing stairs.  Any activity that is hard enough to make you breathe heavily and yet easy enough for you to be able to go at least twenty minutes without stopping is aerobic.  Hell, even sex can be aerobic.

And if you can keep the same pace for forty minutes straight, I suggest you exercise no other way.

But the key terms here are “low intensity” and “long lasting”.  Things like sprints, or jumping as high as you can over and over, are too taxing on the body.  Aerobic exercises have to be things that can keep your heartrate up for a prolonged period of time, which means your heartrate can’t get too high or you’ll end up vomiting or passing out or both at the same time.

FITNESS!

The main benefit of aerobic exercise is endurance.  The human body is extremely adaptable, and the more you push it the further you will be able to push it.  Today you’re jogging around the block and barely able to keep your breath, but in a couple of weeks you will be jogging around the neighborhood and wondering how much further you can go before you have to go to work.  This is because aerobic exercises strengthen the muscles that control your breathing, the muscles that pump your heart, your circulation and blood pressure, and how efficiently your body absorbs and distributes oxygen.  It can even stimulate bone growth, leading to a stronger skeleton than can absorb higher impacts.  Aerobic exercise is not so much about making your arms or legs stronger, but making your insides stronger and able to endure more strain.  I know it sounds like people who like aerobic exercise are madmen who want to run across the entire continent, but once you start you’ll marvel at how you ever went without it.

You know what?  Start jogging in place again.

Anaerobic Exercises

Unlike aerobics, which you do to help you last longer, anaerobic exercises are the ones you do to help you perform physical activities that require massive amounts of energy in a short period of time.  Things like lifting a 50 lbs weight over your head, or sprinting up a hill, or punching a charging rhino in the face, or swinging an axe into the armored skulls of you enemies, anaerobic exercises are the ones that bring you from 0 to 180 mph in the matter of seconds.

These exercises get their name from the type of metabolism that is caused by such strenuous activities, called . . . anaerobic metabolism.  I wish I could say there was something more romantic to it, but anaerobic metabolism is all pretty technical.  Whereas with aerobics, where energy is produced by a tremendous intake of oxygen, anaerobic exercises derive their energy from glucose and things called high energy phosphates, which I have no clue about as I just started researching them today.

The fools think I actually think I know things! MUAHAHAHAHA!

Lifting weights, resistance training (lifting your own bodyweight, e.g. push-ups), and eccentric training (which has to do with a specific stage of lifting weights) are all included in anaerobic exercise.  The benefits are increased strength, faster reflexes and increased accuracy.

You may think that you don’t need to do these kinds of exercises, right?  I mean, they’re only for bodybuilders and athletes and show-offs, yeah?

In all actuality, anaerobic exercises are more likely to help you in your day to day life than the other two categories.  When was the last time you jogged for twenty minutes to get where you needed to go?  Just use your car, stupid!  When was the last time you stretched your arm behind your back and grasped the top of your butt?  Only at Christmas parties!  Now when was the last time you accidentally knocked over a glass and caught it before it shattered on the floor?  Or the last time you tripped and corrected yourself before you fell face first into the pavement?  Or the last time you lifted a couch for a former friend who tricked you into helping him move by saying he’d take you to Disneyland?  All of those activities use muscles that are developed and trained by anaerobic exercises.

So there are the three kinds of exercise.  And yet I must stress again that the point of these exercises is not to lose weight, but to make you a stronger and healthier person.  To include each of these in your work-outs (in fact many exercises can fall into all three categories, or be easily modified to do so) will help you lose some weight, but more so it’s going to train your body to be able to lose massive amounts of weight.  If you are trying to lose a lot of weight (50 lbs or more), at some point doing jogs around the block and lifting a few weights aren’t going to be enough.  I will talk about “Amping Up” in a later post, but the human body is very adaptable and you will need to go far and beyond the norm to lose lots of weight.  Losing ten to fifteen pounds is one thing.  Losing more than fifty is not just changing how you look, it’s changing your life, and you’re going to have to sweat for it. 

Diet: Exercise – Exercise

Geez, what a shitty title.

All of these posts on diet and exercise are serving a two-fold purpose:

1.  You, faithful and most beautiful and most extravagantly genius reader, get to have some insight on weight-loss and diet, and perhaps learn to step around common pitfalls every valiant pursuer of a healthier/thinner body tends to fall in a few times.

2.  I get to review all of these topics as I write them and perhaps find what I have been doing wrong or what I have forgotten.

I am more than happy to share my “knowledge” with all of you, but you have to understand how much that second point pisses me off.  I hate learning things, let alone RElearning things, as I find it akin to back-tracking, and fuck that shit.  Unless you’re trying to lose some pirates by walking into a cave and then going back by stepping into the footprints you have already made in the sand as a form of misdirection, back-tracking is simply infuriating.

This has nothing to do with the today’s topic; I just wanted to let you know if my tone sounds a little angrier than usual, that is the reason.

"I hate getting smarter!"

As you had to do with food, you’re going to have to learn some vocabulary and classifications before you start putting together an exercise plan.  Most of these will be words you are already familiar with (muscle, aerobic, pulse) but we’re going to have to make the definitions a bit more clear cut if you are going to start exercising properly.  Now you may say, “Running is running, and I hate running.  I don’t need any other definitions other than knowing running is something I hate.”  But remember that one of your biggest weapons in the battle of the bulge is knowledge and understanding and loose terms never helped anyone.  Also, after some research you will realize that running may not be the best form of exercise for you (in most cases is actually to be avoided, depending on your size) and that there are many ways to get your heart pumping.

Also, watch that mouth.  I’m smart-ass enough for all of us.

Almost all modes of exercise fall within three categories (flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic, which I’ll talk about in later posts) and each are important to your overall health and strength.  Notice how I didn’t say “important to weight loss”?  That’s not because you shouldn’t focus on working out (which, if true, would make this one of the shortest and dumbest posts I’ve written), but because you need to change your ideas about exercise.  It’s not just for the person who wants to lose weight, or for the training athlete, or for crazy people who like to do these kinds of things for the hell of it.  Exercise is something for everyone and should be done by everybody.  And it’s a lot easier to do than you might think.

Like taking long walks at the end of a long day to unwind?  Guess what?  You’re exercising.  Do you ride your bike to your friend’s house because he lives close enough that to use the gas in your car to get over there would be absurd?  Voila, you’re exercising!  Are you one of those people who try to get all of your groceries bags into your house in one go by placing eight or more bags on each arm and rushing indoors before you cut off the circulation to your hands?  Presto, you’re exercising, albeit for the silly reason of acting macho when no one is paying attention.  A lot of what we do during our day can be considered exercise.  This begs the question, “Well, what is exercise exactly?”  And I’ll tell you.  Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight . . . . . . . . . . . .

We can’t talk about what exercise is until we have a clear definition of what exercise isn’t, and we can do that with a little science experiment.

"You mean we can be interactive on the internet? AMAZING!"

HEART RATE

Do me a favor and go lie down on your bed.  For those of you who aren’t near your bed, wait until you get home.  If you have to do something like walk upstairs or fight with the lion that you keep in your hallway, lay down for a good ten minutes and relax before starting.  If you’re already in bed while you are reading this, what, you don’t have a desk?

These can double as a desk, and people are practically GIVING them away.

Now as you’re laying down, all calm and collected, go ahead and take your pulse:  Two fingers to either side of your jugular, count the number of times your heart beats for ten seconds, and then multiply by six.  Don’t press too hard as you may feel the pulse of your finger tips and end up miscalculating.  If you can’t find your pulse, then I’m sorry but –

- you're probably dead.

This is your Resting Heart Rate, the speed at which your heart beats while doing nothing extraneous or exciting whatsoever.  The Mayo Clinic lists the average resting heart rate to be anywhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm), which is a really large gap for something as renowned and official as the Mayo Clinic in my opinion.  But every single body can be drastically different in this regard, depending on how much you work your body during a normal day, what sex you are, your age, blah blah blah.  In general, 80-90 bpm is what the normal heart beats at.

Now seeing as laying down isn’t exercise no matter how many birthday wishes I waste trying to change it, we are going to have to calculate another number.

220 bpm is the highest an average heart can beat before it simply explodes like C4 and burns with the heat and fury of hell.  No, I’m not trying to get you to exercise until your heart bursts from your chest –

– but if you take this number and subtract your age from it, you will get a general idea of what your optimum heart rate is.  Your Optimum Heart Rate (otherwise known by its much more awesome name, VO2 Max) is the speed at which your heart beats when you are exerting all of your effort into moving your body.  Think of it as the rate at which your heart beats when you are running for your life.  From a bear, perhaps, or maybe from that lion you keep in your hallway.  It’s the heart rate you achieve when your “Fight or Flight” instinct kicks in and your system is flooded with enough adrenaline to run up a tree or brain-punch a gigantic cat.

This is not the heart rate you should be aiming for when exercising either, but with it we can make some more computations to help figure out where you should be.  Now to spare you having to plug through equations and shit, such as:

THR = ((HRmax − HRrest) × % intensity) + HRrest

I’ll just go ahead and throw up a chart that explains it without all that pesky mathematic mumbo-jumbo.

You . . . you all know how to read a graph, right? If I need to explain this to you then you should just go back to school. They have PE in school.

Hmmm.  I’m starting to realize I could have just posted this chart and skipped all the writing I’ve just done.  Man, even being lazy takes a lot of work.

Remember that Resting Heart Rate I had you find out earlier?  If your bpm is between that and the first row of numbers on the bottom of that chart, you aren’t doing anything.  You’re not getting exercise, you’re not working out, you’re not losing weight.  If you’re heart rate is not in the light yellow area (aka – the Moderate Activity Zone, aka – Spinning in Your Chair Really Fast For At Least Ten Minutes Zone) you’re doing nothing for yourself.

However, once your heart rate is in the SIYCRFFALTM Zone, you’re exercising!  Anything between taking a five minute walk and running a five hour marathon is considered exercise.  By taking this view of it, suddenly being more active doesn’t seem so terrifying.  You don’t need to go to a gym, to don’t need to wear sweat pants.  Other people don’t even have to realize that you are doing it!  And it includes fun stuff too, not just running and lifting weights.  Jumping on a trampoline is exercise!  Chopping down a tree is exercise!  Chasing after the birds in the park is exercise!  Sex is exercise!  Hell, even masturbation is exercise!  Anything, anything, that gets your heart beat up into that light yellow zone and keeps it there for a prolonged period of time is exercise.

Of course, exercising doesn’t necessarily mean losing weight, which is why we are all here.  But you have to start somewhere and you can’t just jump off by trying to run five miles everyday.  If you have been large for a long time and you trying to sprint for as long as you can you’re going to end up hurting yourself.  Your bones and muscles and heart simply aren’t prepared for the stress, and you’re dooming yourself for failure and the depression that comes with it if you attempt exercise so haphazardly.

It’s infuriating having to take it slow, I know.  It drives me bonkers when I’m not able to do something physical because I know I’m not strong enough yet.  To hold yourself back when all you want to do is get rid of the shame you feel about yourself, or to feel healthier day by day, is frustrating to the point of tears.  And I’m sorry, I really am, but you can’t force this.  It is too easy to injure yourself, to permanently damage your body with improper exercise.  If you work hard and keep at it, the time will come when you will be able to do things with your body that you never even dreamed of, but you’re going to have to start off with baby steps.

In the meantime, start going for walks, even if it’s for ten minutes.  Go into your backyard and kick a soccer ball against the side of the house.  Dust off those rollerblades and go skating in the park.  Sure, you’ll be dating yourself by at least a decade or so, but you’ll also be working up a sweat and if it’s a clear day and there’s a slight breeze, you won’t even know it is happening.

. . . . .

P.S. – You really should do something about that lion in your hallway.

Honestly, why did you even buy the god damn thing?

 

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.