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.