A Body in Motion

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By Rene’ Steelman, Platinum Director, Get Waisted Northwest 

girls day walking

The current fitness revolution has created quite a conundrum. It seems like it’s no longer enough to be healthy, flexible, and within an acceptable weight for your height. Somehow, slim is not good enough: muscles are a must, a six pack is demanded, and biceps are the new black. It’s no longer acceptable to simply walk, take a Zumba class just for fun, or hike and bike with the children. You have to have defined deltoids and triumphant triceps attained in the two-hour workout before the fun Zumba class.

I’m afraid we have set up a perfect scenario for disappointment, discouragement and depression. “Let’s get physical” has gone psychotic! Recently, I interviewed a physical therapist and asked her, “If you could ask the world to stop doing one thing, what would that be?”

Her response? “Stop sitting!”

Dang it, I thought. I expected her to say something about weekend warriors or the hazards of triathlons. This wasn’t the answer I was hoping for. Our bodies are not meant to sit, she explained. We should be moving. Even if you watch calories and take in only 1200 Cal a day, sitting at a desk and driving everywhere will on average only burn less than 1000 Cal.

If you wonder why you aren’t losing weight, ask yourself, “How much did I move today?” Sometimes, unrealistic expectations can keep us from moving around enough. Do these statements sound familiar?

  1. 1. I’ve tried walking and I didn’t see any results.
  2. 2. When I take the stairs, I get sweaty and breathless.
  3. 3. If I can’t have a body like Hugh Jackman, it’s not worth exercising.

Consider walking. I see you out there with your BFF, on your quest for 10,000 steps. The weight might not be falling off because you are chatting away and not one bit of mascara smudges because you ain’t sweaty! Passing through the Starbucks and exiting with something “frappe” doesn’t help either. When you first begin any exercise program, you may see amazing results. Your regular walk has helped you drop some pounds, but unfortunately our bodies are clever monsters that always demand more. Once they adjust to a certain stroll, it isn’t going to work. You have to change it up, pick up the pace, add more miles, and – I dare say – change your trail to a non-Starbucks route.

With the stairs, the whole point of taking them is to get a little sweaty and breathless; that’s why it’s called “cardio.” The goal is actually to keep it up until you have to climb even more stairs to get sweaty and breathless. (Remember: your body will adapt.) Take Hollywood stars for example. Hugh Jackman in a movie doesn’t look like Hugh Jackman in real life. He trains hard for a movie. (And, given his age, one should consider the possibility that hormone supplements facilitate his impressive physique.)

Also, consider Bradley Cooper, who put on forty pounds of muscle for the movie “American Sniper.” When I saw him in a Broadway production a year later, he was back to his normal, fit, much smaller self. The amount of time and effort that it takes to maintain a very low amount of body fat and to keep those muscles pumped and primed is not realistic for most adults. The problem is that such pristine awesomeness may be attainable, but it isn’t sustainable – unless you do it for a living.

Let’s get back to sanity, move a little, eat a little dark chocolate, go for a bike ride with the kids, stop drinking soda, and enjoy the beautiful gift of a healthy body, just a nice healthy body that does what you ask it to.

Rene Steelman

Rene‘ eats and moves in Portland, Oregon. But not obsessively.

Posted on by Mary Clifton, MD

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