Wednesday, September 13, 2006

On one hand … we have four fingers and a thumb

The title of this post refers to an old friend who, whenever one started a sentence with the words "on one hand," would interject the four-fingers-and-a-thumb remark, often leaving one speechless for a moment or two.

The Shrinking Knitter is all about amusing blog post titles. [NOT!]

Greta pointed to an interesting – and more than a little confusing – article in yesterday's New York Times. On one hand, it definitively answers my treadmill vs. outside calorie-burning question. On the other hand … well, there are lots of other hands in the article, and if you were just starting out with an exercise/healthy eating program, you might get discouraged.

So, if you're well into your routine, go read it. Information equals knowledge equals power, and this article is packed with information.

But if you're looking for inspiration? Ummm, not so much.

Jane Brody, the Times health columnist, discusses Ralph LaForge's analysis of factors that 'influence the effects of exercise on weight loss.' LaForge is the managing director of the Duke Lipid and Disease Management Preceptorship Program at Duke University Medical Center.

His contention is that the number of calories we think we burn, based on exercise machine readouts and commonly held beliefs, don't always add up. For inefficient metabolisers like me, the information in the article is somewhat comforting.

I've always known that I don't burn a thousand calories an hour on the rowing machine, although that's what the little computer screen tells me when I wipe the sweat off it. For one thing, the rower doesn't take body weight into account when it calculates. Neither does my treadmill.

When I was in top form 10 years ago, and working out at a gym, I would burn 1000 calories per day, according to the machine readouts. In fact, I wouldn't leave the gym until I'd done my 1000 calories. I frequently ran to and from the facility, but those calories were icing on the cake, so to speak, and I didn't count them toward my daily goal.

Ignorance is bliss. I was probably burning half that. And now that I'm solidly in the middle-aged demographic, and more careful to protect myself from injury, I feel like I'm working twice as hard to burn half as many calories. No wonder it's taking me so long to lose weight this time around.

At any rate, I'm glad Greta let us know about the article. Eight months of this year have gone by, and one thing I know is true for me is that exercise matters. A lot. The smaller I get, the more it will matter. [Wo]man does not live by whole-grain bread alone.

S/he also has to work [out] for it.


Nancy said...

Not only does (wo)man have to work (out)for it, it being weight loss through exercise, but the last sentence of the article is very disheartening. "...woman have a harder time getting rid of abdominal fat than men do." Sheesh!

dg said...

i love your style debbit, you are so witty :)

and you row for a whole hour? i am in aaaaawe!

PastaQueen said...

Linky no worky.

Greta said...

I reread the article and it certainly contains enough information to make my head spin. The one thing I know for sure is that exercise is what makes me firmer and less flabby. Exercise helps me lose and helps me maintain. I feel YOUNGER as a result of exercise. I have always suspected that the calories burned attributed to exercise did not quite "work" for me though. Now I know why.