mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Why I fight, err, exercise...

I was talking to a coworker over lunch a few weeks back who told me that she thinks I have exercise too much and that it's a sign of an eating disorder and poor body image, based on seeing my truck at the gym around 8pm and on my disappointment at my finishing time at the Baltimore Running Festival half marathon.

I typically get about 2 hours of exercise a day - I do about 90 minutes of cardio - precor/elliptical - and about 30 minutes of strength training (pull-ups, lat pulldowns, bicep presses, other circuit training, and a bunch of other stuff). But sometimes I do less, if I have other stuff to do, and occasionally I miss it entirely.

I will agree that I probably get more exercise than most people do. But I don't think it's an excessive amount - a study earlier this year suggests that it takes an hour a day of exercise just to maintain weight - and that was based on people eating a reasonable diet. I don't. I eat like food is about to be made illegal. I munch throughout the day, eat a huge dessert every night, and go out to eat sometimes or eat lunch at the all-you-can-eat buffet at work. Exercising daily is what lets me do that, and still fit into my pants. Yes, I could eat a whole lot less, and exercise a whole lot less, but I like to eat and don't see anything wrong with that. Besides, there are other benefits to exercise - I enjoy it, it gives me a chance to listen to music, watch the FOX News All-Star Panel (now with more Juan Williams!), is good for the heart and for building muscles. I notice when I skip or skimp on exercise, I tend to feel more run down. There is evidence that exercise fights depression.

As far as having a poor body image, I do. I also have a pretty poor body. I still have a bit of a gut, and I'm literally right on the line between normal and overweight based on height and BMI. While I realize BMI is not a perfect measure, it is a good rough guide, and it tends to be wrong mostly for people who are unusually muscular. I, on the other hand, have had my arms described as "spindly". I've got pale skin that turns red with the slightest contact with sun, a back that is permanently curved thanks to diagnosed too late Sheurmann's Kyphosis, which gives me the posture of a turtle with low self esteem. I'm short and unusually hairy. I've met women online who seemed interested in me, until either seeing a picture or meeting me in person. I've also contacted literally hundreds of women online, and heard back from almost none. So it's not exactly a leap to conclude that I'm not particularly good looking. I can't do anything about my height or my complexion or my back, but I can try to keep in decent shape. And if there is one point in my life I should try to look my best physically, it would be now - as a single 30 year old guy who would like to get married, start a family, ect - but is quickly passing the age where I have a chance of that happening, if I'm not past it already.

The other thing about exercising is that it keeps me busy. If I wasn't at the gym, I'd probably be at home, surfing the internet, reading online personal ads and getting more and more frustrated by my single-ness, or watching crappy TV. To me, being at the gym, working out, seems like a better place to be.

As far as my marathon time, well, I want to improve on my time. Running (err, walking) is an interesting sport, because you compete not only against the field, but against yourself. Now that I have a base time, I'm curious how much improvement I get for doing additional work - for actually doing some training, maybe entering some more races. I've never been good at a sport, and I probably won't start now, but I can become better than I was. It also brings up an interesting question - when people are good at something, how much of it is genetic, born into them, and how much is for training - and how much can someone who is well past the prime for being a top runner, age-wise, improve? Some people like to modify cars to get lots of speed out of them, some people like to overclock computers. I'm curious if the same can be done to the human bodies.

So while I may exercise more than most, I think if I'm going to overindulge in something, there are far worse things than time at the gym.


At 1:42 PM, Blogger tralatrala said...

All I'm trying to say is, stop looking at what you "should" have and look at what you DO have, and don't be a self hater. Embrace what your body is, and look at exercise as a way of improving it, but not as an absolute necessity to hit some number. What will hitting that BMI number mean to your life?? You get hung up in these goals and the path to the goals but don't stop and look around and what you already have.

It's a pattern, just think about it. The house was the answer, the weight loss was the answer, the degree was the answer. None of these are the answer. It's mindset and positive thought, and not hating on your accomplishments. Even a little hating is bad. Embrace what you have accomplished in your life and screw the grass is greener complex, or what you think you SHOULD have right now in your life.

It's good to have goals, but when you are only working towards something that will make your life better you don't stop to see what you have done and that what you have is good.

None of this is easy btw. I struggle with it every day of my life, but the more you think positively about what you've done the better you begin to feel about yourself.


Post a Comment

<< Home