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A Few Words About Exercise

by on June 05, 2012

Everyday I ask patients whether they are exercising. Invariably the response is yes. But when I probe more, I find out that they are only working out 2-3 days a week.

Understand that your body is constantly working, it doesn’t take days off. So every day the rule of thumb for your body is “use it or store it.” If you workout on Monday and eat above your resting basal metabolic rate, you may not gain weight and may lose a little that day.

But when you rest on Tuesday, your body is going to store any excess calories to make up for the loss the day before.
Keeping your metabolism burning is absolutely essential to losing weight.

We are finding that a year out from a gastric bypass the body becomes very adept at slowing metabolism to whatever food you are consuming. So let’s say you have done great losing weight but suddenly you plateau.

The plateau is due to the fact that your metabolism has slowed to match your calorie intake. So you may want to lose a few more pounds and then decide to just decrease calories.

Guess what your body will do. It will just slow metabolism further, and at super low calories you won’t feel good so you won’t be able to move much at all.

It’s Not Always All or Nothing

Now, the reason people don’t like to exercise daily is our western concept of “all or nothing.” People go the gym and kill themselves. They watch “The Biggest Loser” and believe that they need to workout until they cry in order to lose weight. How long will someone stick to a plan that hurts that badly? And how can you get daily exercise if you can’t get out of bed the morning after a tough workout?

When they did the “Blue Zone” study looking at which civilizations were the healthiest, these societies they found got lots of “exercise,” but not in the western idea of exercise.

In Okinawa, they walk all day. They don’t have gyms and treadmills and weight benches. They simply walk. Can walking work for you? Of course it can! There are many studies showing that getting 10,000 steps a day leads to better weight loss than hiring a trainer.

Keep it Simple and Use a Pedometer

There are so many great pedometers out there to measure your steps. I love the FitBit and theNikeFuel. It becomes a game. Put your pedometer on in the morning and wear it all day. Go for a walk, take the stairs, park further away. Just get to that 10,000 and see how great you feel, and how fast the weight comes off.

Now I may be a bit of a hypocrite here because I do take exercise to the extreme. I do this because it makes me feel great and I have found the body will stagnate.

Get at least 10,000 steps a day. Once this gets easy, challenge yourself a bit. Try to break a sweat daily. Set some goals beyond 10,000 steps, like running a 5K. Then you will cross that finish line and crave a 10K.

Nothing feels as great as meeting goals and expectations, and then surpassing them. But you must start with the basics and slowly move up, or else you will burn out.

So write out a big sign that says “I will get 10,000 steps today” and put it on your bathroom mirror. Put on your pedometer and go and do it. You can do a zumba class, go for a walk, whatever, just DO IT!