So how many calories does this burn…?

Oh dear, what a long week!

I’m clearly not meant to be a painter, because I don’t think it should take this long to complete such a small room.  And today I’ve spent all my time in the waiting room at the oral surgeon (my wife was getting her wisdom teeth removed, but is now sleeping, allowing me an opportunity to make a quick blog post).

I’m not expecting you to care about all this, mind you – I just can’t resist a good sob story.  So I’ll digress and get back to more fitness-related things…

Today I just need to quickly address a pet peeve of mine.  You see, I get asked a lot, how many calories do your workouts burn?  Even though it’s a well-intentioned question, I can’t help but want to answer their question with a question.  Like, “I don’t know, how many unicorns does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

I don’t actually respond this way, mind you – I’m not that much of a jerk.  But that well-intentioned question is, nonetheless, completely irrelevant (just as is the case with the unicorns and light bulbs… I don’t have a good guess on that, by the way, as I imagine their horns would prevent them from being able to reach the lights, not to mention they don’t have thumbs – but I’m probably going a little to far imagining this in the first place).

So, why is it irrelevant?  Because in spite of what we’ve been told all our lives, it’s not about the calories.  It would take me (and keep in mind, I’m probably heavier than most of you reading this) nearly four hours to lose one pound from running.  Yay exercise!!!

You may now be asking yourself, “isn’t this guy supposed to be a fitness professional and expounding all the reasons why we should be exercising?”  Well, I’ll get to those reasons momentarily, but in the meantime, I’m just going to ask you to realize that exercise is a lousy tool for weight loss.

If you want to lose weight, you’re going to have to eat right (and defy some of the “prevailing wisdom” of the day).  I’m not going to spend another several paragraphs turning this into a nutrition post, so you’re just going to have so sift through some older posts or wait for a newer one on that front.

Anyway, since I do want you exercising, I figure I’d better give you those reasons.  I just want to let you know that only one of them has even the slightest to do with fat loss.  Here they are, in order of least to most important (in my humble opinion):

4. Exercise decreases insulin resistance, which aids in weight loss
If you want to lose body fat, you need to be able to get the insulin (your storage hormone) out of your bloodstream.  Intense activity makes your muscles more sensitive to insulin, so they can help get fuel to your muscles, rather than storing fuel in your fat cells.

3. Exercise increase your cardiovascular capacity
When done right, exercise is a great challenge for your heart.  Your heart is a muscle, and it gets better when you train it.

2. Exercise strengthens muscle and can increase muscle mass
If you want to look better without even losing fat, add muscle – it will change your shape and look completely.  More strength will not only make your life easier, but it will make you more confident.

And the number one reason to exercise…

1. Exercise makes you feel good!
Look, even if there were no measurable benefit to your body, you should still exercise because it makes you feel great!

So, to reiterate what we’ve learned today:

• Calories burned don’t mean jack (read that as many times as necessary)
• Exercise is still great even though it’s not going to help you lose much weight
• I spend my spare time thinking about the household skills of unicorns

I think we’ve all learned something today (even if it’s something disturbing about ourselves).

‘Til next time!


1 Comment

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One response to “So how many calories does this burn…?

  1. Mark, Love your BLOG ! Also am interested to read about how exercise affects your insulin levels since I have become a type 2 diabetic

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