Everyone can now exhale. A new article in Time titled “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin,” has claimed that contrary to what we all think, exercise can make you fatter.
The author, John Cloud, makes the point that because exercise makes you hungrier, you end up eating more than the calories that you burn. According to him, people working out can’t help but be consumed by the “lip-licking anticipation of perfectly salted, golden brown french fries after a hard trip to the gym.” He argues that because exercise makes you hungrier, you start to view food as a reward for doing it and later on, you are so exhausted from doing it that you just sit around. For instance, if you go on a 20 minute run and slam a 32 oz. Gatorade afterwards, you’d be better off from a weight loss standpoint just “sitting on the sofa, knitting.”
Cloud goes on to state that willpower, like a muscle, “weakens each day after you use it. If you force yourself to jog for an hour, your self-regulatory capacity is proportionately enfeebled. Rather than lunching on a salad, you’ll be more likely to opt for pizza.” Really?
The author cites a lot of studies throughout this article and does mention that exercise is good for you in other ways and that we all do need to move around more – taking the stairs, walking, etc. However, I can’t help but cringe when I read this. To me, it seems like exercise is not bad for losing weight, but exercise followed by acting like an idiot certainly is.
To the average overweight person reading this article, it says “Don’t worry about exercising anymore, it’s way to difficult to do that and eat right at the same time. So, just focus on eating right. And don’t feel bad about it either; we as humans just can’t help it. We weren’t meant to exercise.” I think this attitude sells Americans short. Why the hell shouldn’t we be able to exercise and eat right? Is it really that hard? Could claims that 60-90 minutes of exercise most days of the week is “a level that not only is unrealistic for those of us trying to keep or find a job but also could easily produce, on the basis of Church’s data, ravenous compensatory eating.” I’m sorry, but I think that completely depends on what your priorities are. I know plenty of people who do this and they are not superhuman ultra-willpower possessors. They just prioritize exercise.
To me, this entire article is just another way Americans are trying to justify not doing something that is perceived to be hard. It’s hard not to eat french fries or Starbucks muffins after you work out. It’s hard to find time to workout. Because of this, let’s just say that strenuous exercise is bad in general.
I’m not arguing against the facts of this case. Exercise does indeed make me hungrier. It does take effort to find time to exercise. If you sit around all day and then workout furiously for 30 minutes after work, you will probably be sore. What I disagree with is the tone of this article. The attitude that “if we do this right, it will help, but we can’t because it’s hard, so let’s not do it.”
So, if you’re trying to lose weight, and you feel like jogging, think twice. Maybe you should just sit on the couch and skip the Gatorade. We’ll all ride into the sunset together.
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