October 31, 2012

"Calories In = Calories Out" May Not Be the Language of Health

I remember, not too long ago, when I would slave away in the gym for 2 hours a day without thinking much about it. Although I enjoyed it, the truth of it was, I was doing it to either burn off the calories I consumed or all those stored in my muffin top. Needless to say, my collection of exercise injuries was growing and so was my distain for the gym. It was at that point something clicked in my head and I realized, if I wanted to sustain physical activity for the rest of my life, I had to change my routine.

Now I exercise about one hour a day (and that includes 10 minutes of stretching) and I don't believe I have been fitter or have looked better (but that could be due to my fading eyesight or penchant for self-protective beliefs).  What I did do was focus on healthy eating (as I have reported on at nauseum in this blog). Nothing has changed as I continue to eat well, enjoy the odd junk food binge (and my wine) without much change in my girth.

Unfortunately, just like the ex-smoker or born-again exerciser, I am more aware of overexercisers or "exercise bulimics" than ever before;.the language, the behaviour, the negotiations. Take my friend "Anna"...she's a recovering (and I use that term very very losely) anorexic. The language of eating and body disorders usually includes equations such as calories in is less than calories out. For the anorexic in recovery, however, calories in must be equal or be greater than calories out. Thus begins the life long negotiation between what to eat and how to exercise. She's been making deals with herself and family that if she doesn't exercise, she must cut down her calories for the day. Unfortunately, this type of discourse doesn't just stay within the culture of disordered eating, but extends to the culture of health, exercise, diet, and pretty much all concerned wtih maintianing or achieving a svelt silhoette (oh, and of course the ignorant medical professionalis who still believe that fat is unhealthy).

This notion of exercising to eat fun foods will lead to nothing but a disordered relationship with exercise (and food). Exercise has a slim chance of being fun or enjoyable when it is a must if one wants to enjoy the junk. So what is a recovering anorexic to do? The language of exercise bulemia is everywhere; our television commercials, fitness classes, and even mothers....but that's a topic for my next post. Why, I just overhead a recreational specialist comment that the only reason she works out is so she can enjoy her junk food. What kind of role model is this? I would hazard a guess that most health promoters, nutritionists, and other self-proclaimed health practitioners treat exercise the same way...and who can really blame them when we live in a society that dry heaves when they are faced with fat.

I have no answer. I just feel very sad when I hear this young girl making deals, with fear in her voice, on calories and exercise at such a young age. You just know that this will be her language (probably) for the rest of her fat-fearing life...but then again, eating disorders aren't about fat (it just sounded like a good concluding sentence).

K

4 comments:

  1. Exercise has a thin possibility of being fun or pleasant when it is a must if one wants have fun with the trash. So what is a recuperating anorexic to do? The terminology of work out bulemia is everywhere; our tv advertisements, health and fitness and health sessions, and even moms....but that's a subject for my next publish.

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  2. Thus starts the prolonged settlement between what to eat and how to work out. She is been making offers with herself and close relatives that if she doesn't work out, she must cut down her calorie consumption for the day. Unfortunately, this kind of discussion doesn't just remain within the lifestyle of disordered consuming, but expands to the lifestyle of health, work out, eating plan, and fairly much all involved with maintaining.

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  3. Exercise has a slim chance of being fun or enjoyable when it is a must if one wants to enjoy the junk. So what is a recovering anorexic to do? The language of exercise bulemia is everywhere; our television commercials, fitness classes, and even mothers.

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