Friday, June 26, 2009

Healthy, wealthy and thighs

All right, back to those headlines that raise my blood pressure. Besides being tired of media messages whose purpose is to make us feel inadequate (in order to sell products, of course), I'm also troubled by the amount of misinformation and outright disinformation they convey.

The big myth behind those gut-busting headlines is that you can "spot reduce." That is, that by targeting your abdominal muscles — or whatever body area happens to be causing you misery — using the exercise-du-jour, you can transform fat into lean mass. That's simply not true.

Regular strength training will make muscles stronger, but if you're still carrying a lot of extra fat, no one is going to notice those muscles.

The only way to get rid of fat is to burn it through aerobic exercise, by expending more calories than are consumed. And even that's no guarantee of wonderful abs, arms, legs, or whatever. First In First Out is an accounting principle, not a fat-loss phenomenon: when you're burning fat, you just have to hope it comes off where you want it to.

I also hate to mention that dreaded word genetics, but all of us all have favorite storage areas for excess fat. If the abdomen happens to be your spot, all the crunches in the world won't reduce it.

None of this is meant to discourage anybody from exercise. I just hate to see people have unrealistic expectations, because those can only lead to an exercise in frustration. It is possible to transform your body composition, but it's not as easy as the magazines might like you to think.

So keep on exercising, but not because "they" tell you it will make you look like "this" or "that." Do it because it makes you feel stronger, healthier, better.

By the way, in case you're wondering about the headline: I'm healthy, and in my mind, that makes we wealthy.

And those thighs? Well, let's just say that even though I've been lucky enough to have had good abs all my life without even trying, anytime I've carried excess weight, I knew exactly where it was going to end up.

I don't worry about it anymore. Those legs of mine might not ever be invited to a photo shoot, but they're strong and take me where I want to go.

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