Why do we exercise? (It’s not the reason you think it is).
Exercising to burn calories is total %$#&@&%*. The “reduce your calories and increase your activity” model is completely dead. It’s wrong. Always has been, always will be. Yet some doctors, nutrition experts, and fitness experts still preach it and practice it. While it is good practice to not consume massive calories and to exercise daily, it’s not what weight loss is all about.
You need calories to heal and for muscles to grow. Do not buy in to these low calorie diets. They will not work and your brain cannot handle them.
Here are the 3 reasons why you exercise: the real reason is for brain health, but blood sugar balance, and hormone balance are nice added benefits.
We are born to move. Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. They ate meat and what they could find or grow, which means they had to work. For us? We hunt at the grocery store and we gather at the fridge or at the drive up.
Our brain needs two things to survive: fuel and activation. Fuel comes from what we eat (33% of what we eat gets used by your brain and nerves). Activation comes from 95% movement and 5% use (grandma won’t entirely save her brain with Sudoku). We need to move our butts to grow stronger brains! What type of movement? That is a personal choice. My choice is Crossfit. I’ve been at it for about 3 years now. So much so that it has become automatic. My body just wakes up at 4:30 am to be there at 5 (unless it’s a specific workout called “Sally”. I would rather go have a root canal). I like the group setting and the variety. If you go to the right gym, with the right group of people, (I found both at Crossfit Edify in Ammon, Idaho) it can be a life changing experience. I also like the emphasis on range of motion (how far your joints move). Getting through your entire range of motion with a movement like a squat activates all of the nerves and fires the brain that much stronger! Do not for one second let the Crossfit games or your age stop you from doing it. I have seen people start from scratch and make massive gains (me). I have seen the elderly, the young, the fat, and the frail at the gym. You have to start somewhere.
Exercising helps us balance blood sugar. When you work out, your muscles use up a form of energy called glycogen, or stored sugar. Glycogen is stored in your muscles and liver. When you work out, these stores get used up and your body screams for more. This is why you hear people talk about eating sugar right after a workout (not from Swedish fish, Jesse!). The muscles and liver are starving to replace those stores and it sucks the glucose right out of your blood. If you don’t work out and then eat sugar? You can count on the inflammation train coming to town. If you are really a metabolic machine, your body can actually use fat as its energy source. This is called being in ketosis, or a ketogenic diet. More on that later.
The other part of blood sugar balance has to do with insulin receptors. Research tells us that if we exercise for 200 minutes per week, we grow new insulin receptors on the cells. When there are more insulin receptors on the cell, the better we uptake glucose into the cell. This will always be my excuse for riding my bike. You do not have to start working out for 40 minutes per day for 5 days a week. You just have to start where you are.
The last reason is hormone balance. Abnormal amounts of insulin, cortisol, testosterone, and estrogen over long periods of time is catastrophic to your body. Guess how you can buffer your hormones? Squats and dead lifts. These exercises target the largest muscle groups in your body, quads, glutes, and hamstrings. When those muscle groups are healthy and strong, they act as a hormone buffer and help keep you in balance.
What is the bottom line? Eat more good fats, delete refined carbs from your life, and get yourself moving in whatever form is fun for you, but move often and get all the way through the range of motion.
Please feel free to reach out to me.