Getting results is the big motivator for exercise isn’t? When you see the scale, your measurements or clothing size go down, when you look better in the mirror it means exercise is working. Yet, the lack of these results means it’s not working and your motivation takes a nose dive.
We all want results. Its the whole reason we are motivated to do anything. The more instant and the more tangible, the more your brain lights up. But exercise results are not instant. The scale, measuring tape, and clothing size makes them feel tangible. But, have you ever stopped to think about who decided those are the results of exercise?
We live in a culture where being fit is a look. We measure exercise by the calories it burns or the steps you get (which is another way of measuring calories burned). We have been led to believe that the feeling of the burn in muscles is your body burning off fat. This has led to a whole list of exercises and machines for the sole purpose of burning fat off certain areas of your body so you can sculpt it into the shape you want.
Along the same lines of melting fat, sweat has come to mean a ‘good workout’. It has been assumed that if you are sweating you are burning more fat, melting it off your body.
Pain has also been associated with progress. The ‘no pain no gain’ mantra that was invented to tell athletes pain is just a side effect of gaining a competitive edge has morphed to mean that you need to feel pain to make progress.
So we are inundated with media images of people doing exercises and looking ‘toned’, sweating and looking trim and in pain and looking fit. These images trick our brain into believing that our body can be molded, trimmed and sculpted if you are just dedicated and tough enough to push your body to exercise in this way.
Keep in mind, the whole premise of marketing is to make you believe you are not enough. The way the body changes slowly is just not marketable. The facts about how you really cannot choose where your body burns fat is also not going to make anyone millions of dollars.
With this awareness, you can look at everything you see in the media and question if its marketing science or body science.
The fact is exercising a certain area will not make you lose fat in that area of your body. That means toning is a term that is marketing based not science based. There are only a handful of scientific evidence that you MIGHT be able to change the look of your skin through strength training. Cardio machines that ‘work’ certain areas of your body and ‘toning’ exercises’ made to give you long lean muscles have no scientific basis.
Another fact is that more is not better. Exercise does not need to be high intensity for weight loss. Soreness does not mean you are making progress, it means you have slowed progress in getting stronger. High intensity and muscle soreness make more work for your body to heal and repair. More than is needed for health and for weight loss.
Exercise works best when you do it consistently. Your brain is hardwired to avoid what makes you feel worse. If high intensity exercise leaves you feeling physically or mentally worse, it will not work for lasting weight loss. Real results come from consistency not intensity.
The results you really want from exercise for weight loss is to feel and function better. What good would it be if you got to a goal weight but felt worse and could not do all the great things you wanted to do? The purpose of exercise is to make you feel better now, and function your best in the future. Those are the real results from exercise, based on body science.
Take a moment to question what you consider results from exercise. Define your own results based on how you want to feel and what you want to be able to do. Any time you see results in the media and are tempted to do an exercise that looks hard and painful but that promises to change the look of your body, question the motive. The job of marketing is to tell you all the ways you are not enough so you have to keep coming back for more, never feeling satisfied with how you look. The job of exercise is to remind you that you ARE in fact enough, no matter your size, so you want to keep coming back for more because it makes you feel better every time.
Keep moving, be well