Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Exercise Myth / Self Control As Muscle

Yes, the point of doing 3 posts in an afternoon is so that Katy can come back from vacation and think I've been blogging while she's been eating. Don't tell her I've actually just been eating this whole time. 

TIME had an article in the past week or two that was interesting but ultimately misleading. It posits that you end up gaining weight when you work out not because muscle weighs more than fat, but because of the "compensation effect." This means that you work out super hard, but then spend the rest of the day eating, and are probably less active for the rest of the day. Essentially, you end up with more calories in than calories out, despite a big burn of calories at one point in the day. 

What the article doesn't suggest is that people just watch out for the compensation effect. It basically says that after you go to the gym, you will get a muffin that has more calories than you just burned as a reward. Hey TIME, maybe people should work out and then not get a muffin, huh? I feel like Weight Watchers should be paying us at this point, but Weight Watchers really helps with this. 

I have seen several studies before comparing diet v. exercise v. diet & exercise. They basically end up saying that people who just exercise lose almost no weight. They also say, however, that people who only diet don't improve their body composition either--skinny fat. need to do both. In my own experience - I drop pounds when I diet, even with zero exercise. I feel good after excising. And I look and feel good after doing both. 

What I found super interesting in the article though was a little tidbit about a study on self control. Researchers have found that it essentially works like a muscle - it gets tired and worn out. So if you are really controlled for several days in a row, it may be damn near impossible to keep it up by the weekend. Self control fascinates me because there are absolutely times when I want to be in shape so badly it hurts, and know that what that takes, and yet still find myself gorging on an entire fast food restaurant before breaking into houses in search of guacamole. This idea kinda lets you off the hook in terms of personal responsibility, which I don't like, but it does make a pretty good case for at least using your bonus points. 

Also, it makes me feel better about the past 3 months. I have nothing to be ashamed of...I just sprained my self control. You know...I just worked it too hard. I'm hardcore.

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