Saturday, January 22, 2011
This is the title of a great song recorded by Frank Sinatra but it has little application to weight control and fitness. People who attempt to lose weight or get fit in “their” way are flying in the face of reality in my opinion. Just as the mantra “an experiment of one” it has some limited validity. That validity is about how each will develop the proper mental attitude and make the commitment to follow though with a programme however it is not valid for self selection as to method. The research has been done multiple times, peer reviewed and proved by application with everyday people in a non laboratory setting.
In the formula to lose weight the primary requirement is to control nutrition (diet), the second requirement is strength building exercise and the third requirement is cardiovascular exercise. Nutrition is 80% of the formula and exercise is only 20%, the mantra being you can not out exercise a bad diet.
To accurately assess exercise calorie consumption requires measuring oxygen uptake in a laboratory during exercise. Using a heart rate monitor or something built into an exercise machine results in using “guesstimates” rather than accurate readings since the algorithms used to assess it have a plus or minus validity factor. For the everyday evaluation of calories in the diet it is best to use the calorie values assigned to the foods consumed in the portion sizes cited. Calories count but count those in and not out if you want accuracy.
The numbers between our toes on a scale measure only the force of gravity on us and give no assessment of our level of fitness based on our body composition, the percentage which is muscle and the percentage which is fat. Muscle is denser than fat which can negate the scale reading when we increase muscle at the expense of body fat and shrink in size. Measurements are the best evaluation tool to use to monitor loss of body fat. Using before and after pictures will also demonstrate progress since we see ourselves everyday we do not note the gradual changes as they occur.
Muscle is the foundation for everything our body does when it comes to function. Muscle requires more fuel to perform it duties which correlates to the better your muscularity is the better your basal metabolism is meaning you use more calories just sitting around doing thumb presses on the remote. Improved muscularity helps to prevent injury by strengthening tendons and ligaments for women strength work increases bone density. The better your muscle function is the more efficiently you can move which means your ability to exercise is improved. Improved ability to exercise results in the ability to handle more intense exercise resulting in better quality and less time spent working out. Better muscle leads to better workouts in less time which creates a win win. Strength workouts continue to consume calories after the workout ceases which is called afterburn.
Steady state cardiovascular exercises improve your heart, lungs, circulation and over time your endurance. While they use calories the moment you cease the exercise that increase calorie use ceases meaning no afterburn. The exception to the no afterburn with cardio is doing interval cardio of some form. The anomaly is that the training effect occurs after the exercise not during it and with interval work the recovery intervals are when the training effect occurs as the body responds to repair and replace.
What all of this means is that the formula for success is set out and deviations from it will inhibit progress. While you will hear anecdotal evidence that X lost Y amount of the force of gravity on them by doing Z are they also fit or simply skinny fat? Being fit is being healthy and that is the true function of exercise not reducing the force of gravity we measure with the scale.
The way is the way and the way is nutrition, strength training and cardiovascular training in that order. Trying to modify this and do it our way instead can lead to frustration and disappointment and potentially cause us to quit.