Hating Exercise

Manila Bulletin, August 22, 2009 | Go to article overview

Hating Exercise


“To grunt and sweat under a weary life” — William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English poet and playwright Hamlet Act iii Sc. 1 (1601)One of the most searched articles in Time this month is John Cloud’s “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin.” You won’t see it posted on gym billboards anytime soon. He hired a personal trainer who works him “like a farm animal for an hour,” applies the Puritan work ethic to fitness yet wonders why he is the same 163 pounds all his adult life. He writes “but like many other people, I get hungry after I exercise, so I often eat more on the days I work out than on the days I don’t. Could exercise actually be keeping me from losing weight?”Sobering fat math. According to Obesity research (Columbia University), a pound of muscle burns approximately six calories a day in a resting body. A pound of fat burns two calories. But let’s say, you swallow in a manner of speaking, the fitness culture whole and muscled up. That is, if your previous 10 pounds of fat is now 10 pounds of muscle – you can only eat an extra 40 calories a day (roughly a teaspoon of butter) before you start gaining weight again.Entitlement. Why doesn’t exercise make us thin? The answer is entitlement. “ I can eat anything I want!” particularly after the huffing-puffing, sweating, grunting cardio, and weights. That’s sisig (pig cheeks and ears) after swimming, tiramisu after treadmill, beer after biking. An 18-month study in the International Journal of Obesity of 538 students who started to exercise showed they ate more (about 100 calories more) than they had just burned.One must imagine Sisyphus happy. Well I guess to Albert Camus, gym rats are a special subset of Sisyphus.Instead of pushing a boulder uphill, watch it crash down and then start all over again, gym rats (that’s you and me), exercise obsessively then eat like there’s no tomorrow and then start all over again. …

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