As I travel through the weight-loss blogosphere, I keep hearing the same themes constantly: fight your instincts (limit calories/carbs/sweets/etc.) and its opposite number, listen to your body; and exercise, exercise, EXERCISE!!!!!!!!
I've talked a lot about fighting/listening to your body, so today I'd just like to take a few minutes to muse on the role exercise plays in the weight-loss battle.
First, don't get me wrong, I think exercise is a wonderful thing. And I admit to some serious envy, since my arthritic knee seriously limits the kinds of exercise I can do to burn energy (cue violins, tears and sad music). But I have noticed that you have to have LOTS of free time to keep up the kind of exercise regimen that many of my weight-loss sisters are on. Weight lifting, running, cycling--good grief, where do they find the time? It's all fine and dandy, but I get the impression that these people have way more time to get sweaty and out of breath than most working stiffs.
It all comes down to moderation. I think there's something wacky in the American mindset (and probably in the Canadian and British mindsets too) which leads people to go overboard in what they do. It might have its roots in Puritanism gone wild, but people either restrict themselves totally or stuff themselves silly. They either spend their days on the couch watching soaps or build their worlds around exercise. I really don't think it's the same in the rest of the Western world.
Whatever happened to moderate eating (yes, dear, you can have a sweet if you really want it)? And for pity's sake, whatever happened to making exercise just a part of your life, rather than the focus of your life? I am lucky to live in a big city with excellent public transit. I don't have to take the car to get a litre of milk. And I can choose (as I am about to this morning), to take a 30-minute walk to the clinic to get a blood test done, rather than taking my car. I can also take the subway, which will still give me a 10-minute walk. I'm lucky to have the day off today, but if I were working in town, I could also choose to take the subway rather than my car to get to work. In so much of North America, this simple choice does not exist.
In recent days, I've been beating myself up psychologically over the fact that I'm not doing enough EXERCISE. I have put the word in caps intentionally. And just as I have consciously chosen to stop putting myself in a diet straight jacket (hard as this approach may be), I will also have to start getting out of the mental straight jacket that tells me that without a world-class programme of exercise, I am not serious about my health. OK, I'm being a bit over the top, but that's the vibe that I'm getting.
Wouldn't it be nice to move to Europe, where portions are normal sized, there is less junk food and public transit more plentiful (not to mention a whole array of wonderful foreign languages to savour)? I guess multi-cultural, relatively transit-friendly Toronto will have to do for me right now!