September 24, 2009

Cranky Fitness Goes Political

I had lots to write about, things that seemed really interesting before but now they're all really, really stupid. In fact, all ideas are stupid. Because I'm stupid...
blather, wince, and repeat for a few pointless cycles

hugh laurie

Have you ever gotten yourself on the Stupid cycle? The soundtrack gets going in your mind and the next thing you know you're blaming yourself for the Great Potato Famine and the invention of 'child-proof' medicine caps. (Children are about the only people who seem able to open those dang things.)

So, since I was feeling stupid... I decided it was time to go into politics.

Must... resist... urge... to ... include... pertinent... picture of a certain politician... not shown here...

Cranky Fitness Goes Political

I'm thinking of forming a new political party: The Cranky Fitness Party.

Our Platform: freedom of whining about exercise, and a cupcake in every kitchen.

Or maybe that's our motto, and our platform should be something that people can actually stand upon. Since standing on cupcakes is usually a short-lived and mushy enterprise at best.

Stand up for your rights ... and walk for them too...

Included in our constitution is going to be the right to a daily constitutional.

Look, newsflash here, but you have the right to exercise. It wasn't officially enshrined in any kind of political constitution, but that's because it was so basic a necessity those guys figured we didn't need it in writing. I mean, why do you think a walk is called a 'constitutional', eh?

If you look up the word "constitutional" the first two definitions have nothing to do with any kind of government.

1. (adj) constitutional
a regular walk taken as a form of exercise

2. (adj) constitutional
of benefit to or intended to benefit your physical makeup

What's wrong with just taking a daily walk? It might not have the cachet of a whole marathon, but a brisk walk can get you breathing faster -- especially if hills or stairs are involved.

Want to sneak in exercise?

Sneak out for a quickie at lunch

- tell your husband/wife/significant other that you want to meet them
for a quickie at lunch. They don't need to know that it's a quick walk until you get them outside enjoying all that fresh air.
- stuff the kids in a stroller, side-bicycle, or car trunk, depending on whether they're toddlers or teenagers and just get out the door. Once you're at the park, it'll be easy enough to encourage them to get out and run around.
- tell the boss that a walk at lunch will save heaps o' money, since you'll be more awake and productive and not drink so much coffee in the afternoon.
- tell your friends that walking and talking is a great way to lose weight /and/ gossip at the same time.

And if they like science, you can throw studies at them.

Remember the researchers who got obese mice hooked on exercise and
then took away their wheel? They found an amazing 100% increase in fatty liver disease. (I'm still amazed about that. It's rare to have 100% in any study.)

Now some other researchers have gotten smart and studied the reverse
in people, i.e. what happens when you get people to exercise.

I didn't like the size of the study, 19 is a small group, but I liked some other things that they did.

- They studied people who lived a sedentary lifestyle and were obese, i.e. with body mass index >30 kg/m2 (Yes, I know some people can have a high BMI and still be fit, but those people are not living a sedentary lifestyle)

- Some of the group did the placebo route, with some stretching thrown
in, while the rest did aerobic cycling for four weeks.

- The scientists measured specific, quantifiable stuff like "hepatic triglyceride concentration (HTGC) and hepatic lipid saturation index (SI), intramyocellular triglyceride (IMTG) levels, visceral adipose tissue (VAT) or amount of fat stores in the abdomen, cardiorespiratory fitness, blood biochemistry..."

After four weeks, they checked the results:

- Body weight and BMI didn't change

- cardio fitness was up in the cycling group, though not the placebo people

- There was a 21% reduction in HTGC (bad triglycerides) and 12% VAT volume (fat in the abdominal area) in the group that did the aerobic cycling.

"Our data provides the first direct experimental evidence that regular aerobic exercise reduces fatty liver in obesity without concurrent changes in body weight or abdominal fat," explained researchers.

I thought this study was important because I know a lot of obese people who figure they'll lose weight only by weight lifting. That way of thinking seems especially common among men.

A lot of women, small or large, think it's "icky" to do aerobics because they'll get sweaty. (Someone please introduce these women to the concept called "a shower"!) Likewise, a lot of larger people don't want to get up and move around because of wobble issues.

Merry's philosophy, summed up in two lines

"People will point and laugh," they say.
"Screw 'em," I say. "Work out anyway."

Not a rant against Fat Acceptance

This is not an anti-Fat Acceptance rant. The people in the FA movement, so far as I understand it, believe that it's possible to be healthy even if they're not thin. I'm just saying to be healthy, especially if you're obese, you need the aerobic exercise.

Especially when you know it has a direct influence on your health.

Exercise your constitutional right today!

Speaking of stupid, or at least strange, here's a video. I am not sure what it is supposed to be advertising, or why the people in the clip behave the way they do, but the special effects were kinda cool.

Washington at night photo credit: Laura Padgett
Washington and a bunch of other presidents photo credit: Loscili


  1. I forgot to mention that it's
    National Punctuation Day!

  2. Absolutely! I'm reading the absolutely marvelous "Slow Fat Triathlete" at the moment and have once again been inspired to "live my athletic dreams in the body I have now" and forget about how I might look!

  3. The video is called something like "dissolving office" - its about an insurance company and their client. :)

  4. As a fat girl :), I find it funny that you have to put a disclaimer up there for FA so that you don't get people freaking out at you. Regardless of how you feel about or treat overweight people, sedetary is not a good thing! I'm just frustrated by people getting their panties in a bunch lately. Excuse the rant :)

    Fatty liver, huh? The stuff you never think about but should!

  5. Part of your post had me imagining moms arriving at a park in a car, opening their trunks, and teenagers bounding out and running and leaping over the grass much like a puppy just taken off his lead. :)

    Very cool info that you shared today. Thanks!

  6. Very sneaky, Merry! Somehow if you frame exercise as a "right", I get to feeling all protective about it, and even irate at the idea of imaginary people trying to take it away from me.

    I usually think of it as an obligation, which has a whole different feeling to it.

    But if I try to picture a couple of big belligerent anti-exercise state troopers trying to block the entrance to my gym, maybe that will make me want to walk through the door.

    Or maybe not, but it's worth a try!

  7. I love this. I know so many people who refuse to exercise because they don't think they need to lose weight, and don't understand that there's a lot of reasons to work out that aren't related to aesthetics.

  8. Loved this! I already exercised my constitutional right today! I did both cardio & weights! So, there, I was political today... crap, I am every day both exercise & politic wise! :-)

  9. Were the mice drinking liquor? I hear that's a slippery slope down the banks of fatty river.
    Oh, you said 'fatty liver'? (Actually that was just dumb..the poor attempt at a joke on my part.)
    But liquor will get you there quicker.
    So I guess if I'm thinking of drinking, I could exercise while I'm at it.

  10. And yay for punctuation where would we be without it

  11. Power to the People!!! and all that Jazz!

  12. Great post Merry! So true about people thinking of exercise as something you do to lose weight, and not considering how important it is for health - whether you lose weight or not.

  13. I love punctuation.

    And I loved that video clip - wish I could do that sometimes at my job!

  14. Love this post. I've been having the "extercise" discussion with my almost 3-year old lately. We have been walking to the football field for the local games and papa told him it was because mama needed some exercise. (It's true, I do.) Now he keeps asking *why* we need extercise. It's so damn cute.

  15. Nice post, although you could actually have a quickie for the quickie - it is a form of exercise and all. ;)

    I'm personally trying to figure out how you do a placebo exercise routine. Do you just tell people that they're exercising and they believe you even though they're not breathing hard or sweating?

  16. Methinks the 'placebo' group just did stretching and not anything that got the heart rate moving faster. (While I have learned -- from Cranky Fitness commenters! -- that yoga is good for you, it's usually not in the 'aerobic' category.)

    And Anna, thank you for explaining the background of that video. I imagine the guy who walked in was trying to put in a claim or something shocking like that? :)

  17. Exercise is a right, not something to whine about. Well said.

    And that study about the effect of exercise/no exercise on liver fat was jawdropping. Way to scare me into sticking to maintenance.


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