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Exercise Philosophy and General E-Tactics: Key Concepts and Definitions for Weight Loss and Nutrition
February 16, 2010 - 9:03am — Matt Kegelman
Welcome to GettingOutside’s Weight Loss Philosophy Science and wisdom page. Let's begin our journey!
You probably might be saying to yourself, “I know what all these mean, show me the workout and diet plan already!” But I really do suggest you read this, because it might open your eyes to a truth about the world most people don’t realize. And that is:.
________We cannot help but exercise!
Did you know that brushing your teeth with a standard (non-electric) toothbrush burns somewhere around 5 calories? DYK Singing burns more calories than talking quietly? And the louder you get the more calories you burn! And did you know this: That the body’s normal involuntary processes constantly help — throughout the day and night — to burn up around 2/3 of the total number calories we use daily? (It's called your Basal Metabolic Rate. See WebMD's description if you don't believe me...) But it's true: The body’s involuntary processes use up about 60 – 70 of the energy we need to use in our daily functions; the exact number depends on the individual and the day!
Because how much activity one does determines how much this persons muscles have to perform work that day (doing anything requiring an input of energy, remember, however slight [like just talking or walking] or large [like doing aerobics, working out with weights, or going x-country skiing, all of these are many calorie consuming activities]), so if one forces the body to do added work, this will alter the percentage somewhat, and change your BMR.
But it's important to remember that even if you are sedentary, you still burn well over half of the calories expend each day just by breathing, letting your heart pump and by moving in any other way. All of these processes require energy; if you are more active the BMR percentage could alter, because if you gain muscle, which is great at burning up energy, then your body can burn up even more calories at rest! Nice concept, isn't it? The number of calories used up will go up as well! Pumping your heart and using your lungs to breath is not exercise, but it's close...
These normal processes—including our respiratory system (the muscles in the chest controlling the lungs going up and down), our cardiovascular system (the heart is the energizer bunny of muscles, it just “Keeps going, and going....”) and even our digestive, endocrine and nervous systems, too—all burn a significant number calories for us. Believe it or not, this occurs even while we sleep!
So we need energy—our “caloric requirements” met through our metabolism (beginning with the mouth, because of saliva actually begins the breakdown of food and prepares the body for what's about to come, and then the stomach being full will cause more enzymes, catalysts and even chemical hormone to be released, to inform the small intestine that it's about to have to do it's job, which is to take energy from food)—just to us keep going.
We are going to cover this question in more detail later, but for now, let it suffice to say that if we are overweight, then it probably means that we are taking in more calories on a daily basis than we are burning up. More than we need. In other words, we are going over our caloric requirements—for how much energy (which, again, is what food is—it is the fuel of our bodies) we need in any given day. Your caloric requirement is your need. You caloric expenditure is how much you use (in a day). There is a balance between the two.
The Balance Between Your Needs and Expenditures
Go over, by taking in more calories than you need, and you gain weight, because the body will store this excess energy as fat. This happens even if the energy source is not taken/ consumed as a source of fat; the body, amazingly, can convert other energy-rich nutrients—carbs, proteins, and alcohol—into fat. It takes what we don’t need, and does something to it chemically—so it can be potentially used later for some other purpose!
The average person needs between 1600 and 2400 calories a day... athletes and people who train very hard might actually require more. Let’s take a moment now to remember that our bodies are willing to burn about 33 percent of that naturally, just by our lungs continually breathing, our heart continually beating and everything else doing whatever it does that requires energy as well (our digestive system takes energy to work its magic as well—which would almost be like the fuel pump at the gas station asking you for some fuel for it, so it can pump the fuel [energy] into your car; but when you actually think about it, does the fuel pump work automatically, or does it have to get plugged into a source of electricity? Ever try to get gas when the power is out?
OK—enough of my techno-philosophical ranting—the point is:
We need to think of food as our fuel source, and be careful not to overfill the tank! (Only consume what you feel like you need.)
So, the next best question is:
If we burn all that energy effortlessly, what’s still left over?
If you take a 2400-calorie diet, and get rid of one third of that, you are left with 1600 calories. This is more than most people need. For a 1800-2000 calorie diet it leaves you with about 1200-1333 calories left to burn on your own! The real question is: How are we going to burn these extra calories up? Because, remember, there is a balance that exists—and if we tip the scale to the side of burning up more calories than we are consuming, then the scale tips in our favor as we will burn away fat cells—actually turning them into heat and the energy of motion (we create kinetic energy from bio-chemically driven pathways)—it is actually pretty simple... right ;)
Again, the balance works like this (only this time it’s reversed):
If you burn up more than you take in, then you will loose weight.
So, finally, now the question becomes:
How are we going to burn more calories than we normally would?
And the answer to this one is actually quite easy:
Do more activity and get more exercise than YOU otherwise normally would!
And the really good news is this: If you are like most people, you do not remain motionless everyday... you have to run errands, you have to get up to go to work, you have to brush your teeth, wash yourself in the shower, use the bathroom, do the laundry, water the plants, wash or unload dishes, and all kinds of other things throughout the day... and believe it or not:
All the while, no matter what we are doing, if we are moving around, we are using up energy (remember, the fuel from food) to power these processes—via the mighty mitochondria, the cell organelle where glucose is converted into usable energy (adenosine tri-phosphate, or ATP! Doncha jus luv xience!?)
So what are we suggesting? (As a tactic or plan of approach for making the weight come off:)
We are suggesting that you jump start your engine, and allow it to burn more fuel throughout the day (for the car guys and gals out there, we’re going to bore out our cylinders, increase displacement, and clean our intake valves + filters) during these very same NATURAL activities, but doing them in a special way so you are increasing your physcial involvment, by increasing repitions, duration or force.
By getting more exercise and trying to find ways to make what you are already doing even better exercise, you can get in the shape we want. Probably all you need to do is find a way to make your muscles move slightly more, and overall, eat slightly less—because this will reset the balance so it's in your favor; and it will eventually make your body even out your weight (or achieve whatever weight loss goal you have already set for yourself).This is a longter and proven approach. If you want to loose weight, begin getting outside or to the gym for more exercise, and if you are able to increase the activity level or the duration, that's better, and then make sure you eat nutritious foods consisting of a healthy well-balanced diet (not excessive in calories or fats); and then you will surely succeed.
All outdoor exercise will make us burn extra calories (because we're involving our muscles) and it will also tell them to grow! Adding muscle mass will mean you have more of a calorie burning capacity. (Mainly because calories are burned, or used up, as a fuel source, predominantly in the muscles). This is why doing some amount of weight training (using resistance bands, machines, dumpbells or medicine balls) is recommended for most weight loss plans:
By building and repairing muscle tissue, it actually gets easier over time to loose weight. Basically ou will be able to burn more calories without doing as much physical exercise; your body becomes more efficient at burning and using up available energy; but this only occurs if you workout hard and cause yourself add on muscle; this is where protein comes in... for more on that click here...Remember, before beginning any rigorous exercise program, CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR to Make Sure You Are Healthy Enough For Beginning a New Outdoor Execise Regiment.
For right now we need to address a final concept:
"The Naturalistic Workout”
In the above section the word NATURAL is capitalized because this needs to be made very clear—in our daily routines, we do things, such as grabbing a gallon of milk out of the grocery store or kitchen refrigerator, which burn calories. They’re aerobic exercises, in that our body needs a bit more oxygen to allow the muscles to function. And this is what we are going to call it from hence forth—a “naturalistic” workout! How much exercise—how much of an energy burn off, or fuel burning—you will get out of the naturalistic workout depends entirely on how you do it—with what intensity, form and duration. These are key words when it comes to pushing the envelope, and actually meeting the body's need and desire to coerce a change in muscle mass and fat content.
Specifically, here's a few examples of what I mean by a naturalistic workout: Lifting the full gallon milk jug (or really any large container, maybe orange juice, a tub of cat liter or large bag of dog food, even a 2 liter, but to a lesser extent since it's lighter). Lift it once and put it in your cart and you get some exercise; sit there and curl it 5 times and you give your muscles a challenge; you probably burn at least 3 times as many calories as you would in maybe 20 seconds.
Pick up 10 pound sack of potatoes one time and you get a workout worth a test point of 1, take a moment to slowly curl it or lift it above your head 3 or 4 times and all of a sudden – in maybe 30 seconds – you have at least tripled your workout! And you will have burned some significant number of calories, at the same time as you will have given your body's muscles a test, a challenge, and thus, they will be forced to rebuild if you do enough of them. One time my friend Dave Orga and I went to the creek near Pencader and lifted rocks from the stream bed up the bank, then ran and did some pushups, then ran up the steep incline of a 50 foot hill, then came back down and did situps, and then repeated the cycle all over again. This is what you call a Super-Natural-Set, or simply an intense naturalistic workout.
(We talk more about these type of True Naturalistic Workouts later—you'll need a creek or forest nearby your house—but for now we will just go with it’s a small workout that you get from doing things as you would normally, or how you naturally go about doing them). Here’s what will really help you really burn those calories while you work at your exercises:
When you consciously think about what you are doing with your body, you become more aware of the stressors we place on our muscles and ligaments. Too much stress (like trying to lift a 500 lb dumbbell) can cause serious damage to the muscles, ligaments and/or tendons. But putting some reasonable amount of strain on a muscle—causing it to tear slightly, but not irreparably—actually triggers the body to respond by building more muscle! So we want to push our bodies somewhat—to make sure we are telling our muscles, “Hey, I need you—So grow already!” When you add lean muscle mass to your body it not only makes you toner, it makes normal activities easier (you won’t be out of breath from climbing the stairs or walking to your car) and improves overall health and causes weight loss (even though muscle weighs more than fat). You might be thinking,
“That’s impossible. If you add on muscle you’re going to gain weight, not loose it!”
Well consider this:
By working out and focusing on making your muscles do more work you are going to build muscle, at first this muscle will make you heavier—so long as you don’t loose any fat (whether or not you will have to use up any of your stored energy depends upon your calorie intake and the amount of energy you use up). True. But as long as you are eating right (see Nutrition Section), you are going to make your body go to this storehouse of energy and use some of that energy up (well try to target the areas where we have the most fat cells hiding)! In turn, your body is going to be building and repairing more lean muscle tissue, making it so your body will burn even more calories during your off time. It's a two-faceted approach and it's been proven to be the most effective to weight loss (combinging strength training [even with light weights] and cardiovasuclar activities [or aerobics]), especially when combined with a healthy diet.
Now, let's review...
As we’ve said before:
Where does energy get burned up???
In the millions of tiny mitochondria in our muscles – and if we add more muscle to our bodies, we actually enable ourselves to burn more calories with less effort. (And it’s important to realize that it’s not tough to put on more muscle. All you have to do is use them; and the body takes care of the rest for you!)
It’s truly an amazing process how the body is able to repair itself, and adapt to meet new challenges. You might only be able to lift 5 pound weights comfortably right now today, but with a week or two of working out every other day with these weights, you will almost be guaranteed to be ready for more weight. The reason why is because if your body is functioning normally—by allowing the muscles to become slightly torn; not so much so that they are damaged beyond repair, but worked and tested just enough with those semi-daily weight work outs—if you have eaten right (especially enough protein, for muscle repair, see next section), your muscles are going to repair themselves and build themselves back bigger than before. The once you’re going to have added muscle mass, and the next time you go to lift those 5 pound weights, they might actually feel lighter in your hands. At this point you can go ahead and step it up to a 6, 7 or 8 pounder!
The last thing to mention is our metabolism (which can be roughly defined as the way we get energy from the foods we eat through our digestive system). Your metabolism can be effected by stress, sleep deprivation or excess, the foods you choose, and the portions you take them in. We are going to be discussing the basics of each of these in more detail later. For now all you need to know is that exercise and eating healthy foods will
Jump start your metabolism!
We’ll tell you how to do it!
(You guessed it: By Getting Outside!)
And, quite possibly, the best part is, you’ll be doing all of the things you love!
Doing things exercise - or sport - related outdoors is also good for the environment (not damaging to the environment, depending on if you have to drive there and what it takes to make the equipment for the sport; believe it or not even whether or not you have your AC unit on can have a significant impact on the environment and can increase efficiency when it comes to not overpolluting -- just imagine a hand carved canoe and paddle vs a modern plastic molded type that needs to be shipped across the ocean and then delivered to the store via 18 wheeler - NOT ECO-FRIENDLY, but such is the price we pay to have cheap / safe and reliable / cutting-edge personal water craft available to us at all times -- there's always a trade-off@!)
Read the Outdoor Exercise Log Book: (Link and downloads at bottom of page).