Sunday, September 6, 2009

Exercise Won't Make You Thin

While it's true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger, reports. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder. ... Time Magazine

Well, that's good to know. Now we learn we can sit around all day, play at the computer, watch TV, read, and still lose weight. Oh, goodness, where do they come up with these silly ideas? But I do think, sometimes, that people are fighting a losing battle. We are all genetically different.

The female body is classified in four body shapes -- "banana", "apple", "pear" or "hourglass". A study of over 6,000 women carried out in 2005 found that almost 51% of the women were banana, 23% pear, 16% apple, and 10% hourglass. Another study has found "that the average woman's waistline had expanded by six inches since the 1950s" and that today women are taller and have bigger busts and hips than those of the 1950s. So women are dieting and exercising themselves into shapes that are unnatural to them. The hourglass shape is the most desirable shape, and yet only 10% of all women have a natural hourglass shape. How many of you recognize your shape in this picture, and how many try -- unsuccessfully -- to morph it into one of the other shapes, through exercise?

I would love to be tall and willowy. Tall women always seem to be smarter, more capable, more talented -- everything -- than shorter women. It's true. The shorter women struggle more to be seen and heard, "Over here, over here; me ... me ...!" We can't change our height, and for the most part we cannot change our body type. Diet and exercise won't change us from a banana into an hourglass, or an apple into a pear. We can eat healthy food, get fresh air and aerobic exercise such as walking or playing sports that we enjoy, and let the potato chips fall where they may. And occasionally we should curl up with a good book, exercise our mind, and stop fretting about the fact that we may not be perfect, as most of us aren't.


Land of shimp said...

I can attest to the fact that my hunger is ramped up by exercise. I do work out, and the ratio of hunger to exercise is pretty much what you would expect, seeing as food represents fuel to our bodies.

Luckily, I'm not exercising to try and lose weight, but because I feel happier, sleep better and have better overall health when I work out regularly.

Reports like that are illustrative of our currently sick relationship to weight, and body size. Maintaining a weight within your target BMI isn't supposed to be about how other people view your butt, but about your overall health.

People who exercise regularly tend to be healthier. If it makes you hungrier? Woo hoo! If you don't dwindle to a size teeny? You'll be far less likely to care that much that you aren't a tiny size.

Weight and exercise are about heart health. Our current thinking directly equates it to achieving some society approved jeans size.

Our current thinking isn't very healthy.

Jo said...

Alane, "Maintaining a weight within your target BMI isn't supposed to be about how other people view your butt, but about your overall health." Oh, yes. Too true! I think a lot of people enroll in gyms, and then don't go -- which does no good at all. A long, brisk walk on the beach would probably be just as beneficial, and it's free. And I agree, it should be about health, not looking like "Barbie". :-)

lovelyprism said...

I can attest to the fact that exercise doesn't necessarily help you lose weight. I get a good bit of exercise and I kept gaining weight, to the point that I was actually worried about my health. I love my body shape, just not its actual size,lol. It took me 5 years and several doctors to figure out what the problem was, I've lost 10 pounds in the last month and I FEEL so much better, that was my main goal. I don't understand the body morphing thing, you are who you are. The worst example I have seen is Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston when "Friends" was on the air. In the early seasons they were both beautiful and shapely, by the end they both had stick thin bodies with muscles... they looked like teenage boys. Men found it attractive, I found myself feeling sorry for them. Who decided we all need to be a size zero? Shame on them!

greenpanda said...

'Never in a million years! Not that I will live that long! Particularly because I don't exercise very much!
But I don't like exercising, so it's worth it!'

-Capt. Widdershins from a Series of Unfortunate Events. I happen to completely agree.

susie said...

I am the apple shape right now. And I know that I'm overweight. It's taken me 3 months to lose 5 pounds, but I've never liked dieting. I do, however, feel better when I exercise, so I've been getting up early most morning and hitting the nordic trak for 2-3 miles a day. Then I stopped eating chocolate chip cookies (well, mostly. just about once a month now.) I'm feeling better, I don't have high blood pressure or high colesterol, and I'm not a tired as I was. I consider that successful!

DUTA said...

My conclusins based on my own experience:

- exercising doesn't help loose weight; it helps put the body in some shape by toning the muscles.

- exercising outside in fresh air stimulates hunger; exercising at home doesn't produce hunger.

Brenda said...

I couldn't agree more. I used to collect old magazines, patterns, etc. and look at how thin and small waisted these ladies were in the 50's and 60's. Also when you watch the movies made in those years, just look at how thin they were. They didn't look sickly nor did they have over worked muscles. I also don't believe that every over weight person necessarily eats any more food than a thin person. We really do inherit how our bodies are designed. Exercise can make me hungry and so do vitamins. Not a good thing when both can give me such good benefits.
I also love how men can lose weight so much quicker than women...NOT!

robert said...

Allow me as well to tell you that even I was/am concerned about my silouette.
Before having my wife arriving in Germany to see me/her for the first time in real, went jogging for two weeks through the forest, which is probably the most common thing in the world - only that I was wearing a backpack filled with stones ;)
After realising that it doesn't change much, started to wipe away the dust from the bookshelve as well.
Please have a nice new week.

TomCat said...

To add a male perspective, virtually no woman I have known has been truly satisfied with her own body. You are up against Madison Avenue, the advertising capital of the world. They present you an image impossible to attain so you will spend money trying to approach that image.

The sooner women (and most men) understand that the most beautiful part of a woman is between her ears, the better the world will be.

Thanks for the visit Josie. You're on my blog roll.


JeannetteLS said...

How refreshing to see your entry today. It's hard to find the balance that is healthy, especially when you CAN'T "Take a walk." I miss the gym. It made me hungry, though, and the hard part was that when I could not longer workout, I was STILL Hungry for quite some time before it all settled down--thirty pounds later. But the comments reflect something you reflect in your column. It is about health. I have the okay to try a truly recumbent bike. I miss the way I had more ENERGY. And my doctor said that losing weight is about turning patterns that no longer work around--into new eating patterns that work for ME. Five pounds in one year may not be much to others, but it was a pattern broken to me. I was obsessed with it all. Turning back to art, to writing, to being in the world, even though I don't move too well? THOSE things turned my health around.

THANK YOU for your words and those of the people who commented. It's hard in our culture, even at 57, to hear the judgments and not internalize them.

Alissa said...

I'm a banana shape, and while I do exercise, am hardly a gym rat. I don't know if exercise makes me hungrier or just gives me different cravings.

It took me awhile to become comfortable with my body, but being single definitely helps, in my opinion. Guys I've dated, who hardly had perfect bodies themselves, have always felt the need to make comments about my body or comparisons to certain waif-like Hollywood stars.

Russell said...

Hard for a man to know what to say after reading this post - it is extremely dangerous ground!! Heh!

I agree with Tom Cat's comment.

I will add that I think it is sad when people spend so much time and energy being upset or frustrated over how they look or think they look. Most of us look about the same all and all.

On a Seinfeld episode they were discussing this topic and Jerry said he felt about 4% of all people are actually attractive. I think they later decided it was more like 2% - heh!!

If you don't believe it, walk around a shopping mall or down a city street some time! People are people are people! Let's just live and enjoy life!

Brother Tim said...

My wife is a hybrid, a pear-shaped hourglass. ;)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Oh, no, I didn't know that tall women were smarter and more talented than short ones. I am 5'1" and I am clearly screwed.

tinkerbell the bipolar faery said...

It's simple, really ~ to get thin, one must think of intake and output as an equation: intake less than output. That's all. It needn't cost anything, including all the fretting.

tinkerbell the bipolar faery said...

One more thing ~ personal fitness IS NOT a consumable! It's not the destination. It's the friggin road map!

Firefly said...

Just saw an article this weekend about one of the fashion magazines posting a pic about an oversized model with her tummy showing (actually she was naked but not in a porn way) and how positively people has reacted to it.

pranksygang said...

Thanks for the tip Jo!! I'm definitely not banana or an apple!! I'm happy about that:)

Carla said...

I love to walk and it seems to help my bad back. For health reasons, I've changed my diet for the better and really don't have to worry about weight. But I'm so unhappy about what age and worry have done to my face...and neck. Yuck!! And dang, I'm only 5'3" now. Used to be an inch taller.

Love Russell's comment. Especially the last part.

PhilipH said...

Although I no longer worry too much about exercising, (mowing my lawns and other gardening is ample for me!) it is a definite worry about all the obese youngsters in the western world today. Exercise would certainly help these kids, but also their intake of fatty food and fizzy drinks is their worst enemy. Some parents, it would seem, are actually killing their own children nowadays.

ivan said...

I especially like the quote from an author from the l940's, Philip Wylie. He noticed already that the subway ads were very Madison Avenue and very sexy.
Way back in l940, Wylie was wondering if the question was, "Madam, are you a good lay?"

Jo said...

LovelyPrism, men found Jennifer Aniston attractive? I can recommend a good ophthalmologist. :-)

Stephen, what a great quote. I love it!

Susie, I love walking, but unfortunately with my job I also do a lot of sitting. It's not healthy.

DUTA, yes, I think you're right. But no matter what, we do need exercise.

Brenda, "I also don't believe that every over weight person necessarily eats any more food than a thin person. We really do inherit how our bodies are designed." Absolutely! *sigh*

Robert, what a great story. I love it...! I can relate. :-)

TomCat, "The sooner women (and most men) understand that the most beautiful part of a woman is between her ears, the better the world will be." Omigoodness, you're every woman's hero!

Jeanette, "Turning back to art, to writing, to being in the world, even though I don't move too well? THOSE things turned my health around." That is wonderful...!

Alissa, "Guys I've dated, who hardly had perfect bodies themselves, have always felt the need to make comments about my body or comparisons to certain waif-like Hollywood stars." That is because they're accustomed to the air-brushed, artificial women and not the real ones!

Russell, you're so right. If we look around at other people, almost no one is perfect, or even close...! Certainly not me...!

BrotherTim, LOL! I think a lot of women fall into that category. :-)

Hearts, I am only 5'2" and I can relate. But you know, for some reason I thought you were really tall. Who knew!

Tinkerbell, you're so right. It is simply a biochemical equation. I think the equation varies a huge amount from person to person, though. *sigh*

Firefly, I saw that article too. My goodness, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, doesn't it!?

Pranksygang, you're very lucky. You must be close to an hour-glass. :-)

Carla, yes, unfortunately things start to go south after a while, don't they? *sigh*

Philip, I was read the other day that for the first time in generations, the age expectancy for this generation is actually lower. Gosh!

Ivan, LOL. That's the important thing, isn't it? Oh, goodness. :-)

Nancy said...

Yay!! You said it all!

Katy said...

Also, have you ever notice that the riduclous expectations women have of their bodies extends even to their feet? I can't tell you how many women I know who regreat their large shoe size.

Women with big feet aren't suppose to be femine or graceful. They are ugly clumsy baffoons. Nevermind that if you are going to be 6 feet tall you need something to balance yourself on...

I have never been extremely skinny and the only time size bothers me is when I go shopping and can't find anything cute in my size... everything seems to be too big or too small.

Paula Slade said...

I like the way you think Jo! Life is short, let us all appreciate being who we are!

日月神教-向左使 said...