I like science. A lot. So a few months ago when I read this article in Time, I got very intrigued. Turns out there is a correlation between people who engage in regular cardiovascular exercise and weight gain. "What the What?!" you might be asking. Well, yes, it's true. Now here come the Personal Trainer Police to take away my license to make people sweat. But before I get hauled off, let me explain.
Most people join a gym, go 2-3 times a week for a few weeks, hop on a treadmill until they break a sweat (15-25 minutes) then leave, only to discover a few weeks later that they have gained weight instead of losing it. The reason is not the time they spent on the treadmill, it's what they did when they left the gym. Hitting the treadmill for 25 minutes at 6 mph burns about 300 calories. But some points: a) that's faster than a lot of people go (hint: if you are reading while you workout, you aren't trying hard enough) and b) that's not a lot of calories burned. So you've burned 300 calories, but because you sweat a little and got to put on your special shoes, you feel like you've done a good thing. And you have! But feeling this high, as well as the acute insulin response one gets after cardiovascular exercise, you swing by Jamba Juice on the way home and pick up an Power Protein Berry Workout w/ Whey. Well, congrats because you just consumed 490 calories: 190 more than you just burned. And that doesn't include the 490 calorie muffin you pick up at Starbucks now, (because I work out!) or the 250 calorie extra martini you grab on fridays (I earned it!). 6 weeks later, you could weigh 2-3 pounds more than you did before you bought your special shoes.
So what to do? Well the LA Times published a little blog entry today that summarizes some more science that was in the Times article. The answer: just freakin' move more. Walking to work, taking the stairs, not using the remote (heresy!), these are the things that lead to long term weight loss. That is because this type of chronic continual movement does not lead to that "I earned it!" response that acute cardio causes. Now, you should totally do cardio too (that's for your ticker), as well as resistance training to build the muscle that burns the fat to begin with, but it's these life changes that make weight loss permanent.
So thank you, science. Put down the beer, get up, move around, and repeat.