Thursday, August 16, 2012

Flattening the Spare Tire

Since last September, I have been working out regularly to reshape my body.  Long story on the motivation on that one, but part of it involves superhero costumes and dressing up for Halloween. 

It's taken a while, but results are starting to show up.  I've increased my bicep measurement from 13.5" inches to 15.5".  Chest has gone from 42" to 44".  When I stand up straight, I've got a two pack, and that's where the frustration comes.  The spare tire around the mid section.  Nothing has seemed to work on that thing.

Believe me, I've tried.  Core exercises have been done repeatedly.  Diet has been changed: high protein, lower carbs, lots of vegetables--only one vice, a can of Dr. Pepper per day.  Extended cardio work performed.  Not much shrinkage.  Frustration.

But now, I'm trying something different.  Well, two things.  Most of the reading I have been doing suggests scrapping extended, paced cardio work for interval training.  Supposedly it burns fat better.  Made me start thinking.

I know several people who eat like things are going out of style and never gain weight.
I know others who eat like birds and can't lose a pound.
What's going on?

I've talked before about how the chemical Cortisol affects the body, and I'd like to revisit that little tidbit--at least as it was explained to me.

On the African savanna, when a lion approaches a herd of zebras, anxiety gets raised.  Fight or flight kicks in.  One of the chemicals produced in such a situation is cortisol.  Whenever a zebra bolts and sprints away from a lion, the cortisol gets used up.  This is a good thing because if cortisol remains in the body, it actually produces fat--particularly the fat which gets stored around the mid-section.  In people-the spare tire.

Many of the homeo-sapiens clan do not experience such acute cases of anxiety.  Instead, we have a much more malicious form of anxiety we experience: chronic anxiety.  We tend to be in a heightened state of anxiety throughout the day.  Work, family, reading or watching the news, closely following politics, feeling like we have to be busy at every waking second, all of these things produce some form of anxiety.  Most of the time, we worry about the possible outcomes in all of these areas.  We try to plan and prepare for the unexpected, and our anxiety levels rise.  Guess what, so do our cortisol levels.  And what do we do to expend that cortisol? 

Usually, not a lot.  And so, it helps us gain fat around the middle--no matter if we carefully watch our diets or not. 

So, what's the answer?  A lot of exercise gurus are saying interval training.  Short bursts of hard exercise followed by a more relaxed pace over and over again.  My theory: the short bursts are just like zebras running on the savanna--they are burning up the cortisol produced by our bodies.  As such, perhaps the interval exercises aren't so much burning fat as they are using up all the cortisol produced by our anxiety.  The result is the same--flattening the spare tire.

For my (hopeful) benefit, not only am I addressing the "flight" part of cortisol by incorporating interval training, but I am also using the "fight" portion.  Months ago, I bought a punching bag and then didn't use it much.  Because of this thinking, I've started knocking the stuffing out of it.  Three times a day. 

We'll see how the theory plays out in the next few weeks.


Kathy said...

Oh my my. Now you're really going to get it from a person who has never done an hour of exercise in her life -- well maybe an hour. Back in '74, I signed up for an exercise class, but I quit after the 2nd class.

Now, Pastor Kevin, this is just crazy. Maybe you don't believe in the Shroud of Turin, but I'm sure you have seen it. Was Jesus fat? Did he have a "spare tire"? Or big biceps? The ones who were doing exercise and filling up the gyms were the Greeks! Just do the Work of God. Fulfill your vocation and eat as much as your body needs. This is what Jesus did.

A punching bag??? I am shocked. Here in Miami we have something called a Guayabera -- it's a sort of baggy shirt. As Cuban men approach middle age, they start to wear them. There is a saying in the Bible: A Guayabera covers a multitude of sins.

Kevin Haug said...

We honestly don't know what Jesus looked like or what His body style was. It's pretty irrelevant as far as things are concerned.

I enjoy seeing the results of exercise and weight lifting. Would Jesus do the same? Probably not. Does that mean I shouldn't: no.

You see, I don't want a Guayabera to cover a multitude of sins. I'd rather be walking around in a tank top at 50 and have people say, "Dang, and he's old!" --in a good sort of way.

Laura said...

Go paleo! Haha. Or primal. Chunk the grains at least!

Do you have a kettlebell? Talk about short bursts of fight or flight. They are cheaper than weights and so much easier to store! We don't have time for long runs or anything time consuming anymore but we will go outside on the porch while V is napping and do an EMOM workout for 10 mins. Every minute on the minute. Example: for the first 60 seconds we swing our kettle bells (I use 25lb he uses 55lb) but only for a certain number of swings, usually 10 or 12. It doesn't take the whole 60 seconds so you end up resting until the next full minute. When the next minute begins we do burpees in the same fashion. We go back and forth like this for 10 mins, 12 if we can.

0-1 min: 12 kettlebell swings then rest
1-2 min: 10 burpees then rest
2-3 min: 12 kettlebell swings then rest

If your heart isn't about to burst at the end, just adjust reps or weight.

Give it a shot and get ready to be soooorrree! We love this bc it requires little equipment, little space, and little time.

Kevin Haug said...

LOL! Laura, I was wondering if you'd see this, and I was taking bets as to how quickly you'd suggest the paleo/primal diet. I haven't hit that desperation point just yet. :-)

I actually have done kettlebell workouts, and I agree: they kick butt! Yet, right now, I'm in bulk up mode. Using kettlebell doesn't quite help me in that department. Maybe others it does, but not yours truly. I'll keep it in mind for maintenance though.