Monthly Archives: October 2010

No Energy to Exercise

Wild animals sleep every chance they get

Many of us want to incorporate exercise into our daily lives but we’re so tired by the end of the day, that it just seems like another form of stress.

Stress is cumulative. It’s a systemic (whole body) response to mental, emotional, and physical exertion. Exercise is a form of stress, but we intentionally use it to our benefit to be able to handle greater mechanical stress. We can only handle so much stress, however, no matter what the source. For example, it’s next to impossible to be the CEO of a company, an Olympic athlete, and raise four kids without experiencing some degree of burnout.

It’s important to get regular physical activity, though. This can obviously be a problem if your work doesn’t involve much physical activity but tires you out.

If you’re tired at the end of the day, you might want to try taking a half hour or so to completely rest. Lay down, turn off the lights, clear your mind and your environment of any noise or distraction, and just be there. Some call this meditation; you can think of it as relaxation or just decompressing.

I wouldn’t suggest artificial stimulants such as coffee, as these only decrease your perception of fatigue; they don’t reduce your need for rest, if that makes sense. Exercise, however, is a natural stimulant. I can tell you there were many times when I was sitting in my car in the gym parking lot thinking, “maybe I’ll skip today”. But realizing that my body needs movement, I take the hardest step which is walking through the door, and half an hour into the workout I’m feeling great thinking, “was that really me that wanted to skip today?!”

Obviously, if the rest of your life is stressful or exhausting then you might need to limit the duration of your workouts, but the good news is that you can get great results in just 1 or 2 high intensity sets of any exercise. Exercise also increases the quality of your sleep, so even if you want to crash at the end of the day, “pumping out” a few sets will help you sleep restfully and release tension from the body. You just need to overcome that barrier of getting started, but once you get the ball rolling, things will flow with less resistance.

Do this often enough, and you might even find your available energy increasing.

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“How Do You Eat So Much Yet Stay Lean?”

You know some lucky individuals who can seemingly eat anything under the sun yet not gain weight (as in fat mass).

I have a few hypotheses why this is the case. The usual story is they have a “high metabolism” or they’re “young”, and there is some truth to this.

However, this is my #1 reason why the “eat so much and stay so thin” phenomenon exists:

1. The lean person simply hasn’t seen the result of eating a lot.

That’s it. Whether the person under scrutiny is starting out lean or is currently in a lean state, observing that person’s eating habits in the present moment is not an indicator of what got them there, and certainly not where they’re going.

Imagine two opposite ends of the dieting spectrum:

1. An overweight individual who is interesting in losing fat adopts a calorie restricted diet. Because fat loss takes time, visible results will come slowly so even though they are eating less, it may seem like the diet is not working and smaller portions are just keeping them fat.

2. On the flip side, if a very lean individual (at the end of a diet) begins eating like a sumo wrestler, a casual observer would put the two together and it wouldn’t make sense. How does this person shovel it in and not have significant fat mass?

Simply, the overeating hasn’t done its “damage” yet. Even immediately after a big meal, a person with a full set of abs will still have a full set of abs, just bloated. The food hasn’t yet worked its way through the digestive system to be stored as fat. Furthermore, you don’t know how that person eats when you’re not observing them, and in a very extreme case they may very well be fasting and/or exercising like an Olympic athlete when they’re not scarfing down mega calories.

There is also the perceptual distortion of what people look like in clothes. As a general rule, you can hide a lot in clothing than you can without.

I’m not denying that some people have a higher metabolism, but this is a rare exception. And a high metabolism is not necessarily a desirable trait, despite what some people might believe; an inefficient digestive system is less apt to utilizing nutrients for general growth and repair. Talking to a doctor or nutritionist is the first priority in this case.