Friday, November 10, 2006

Muscling in on new territory.

I wrote this the other month in response to someone scoffing at my enthusiasm for working out with weights.

It's not love that makes the world go round, but muscles. Imagine if you had no muscles. Only skin, fat, sinew, bones. You couldn't do anything!

Yet, why is it that when you mention muscle toning to women, dieting women especially, that they tend to turn their noses up at you?

Sure you can diet down to whatever your goal weight is on the scale, but I bet you'll look scrawny and unhealthy after doing so. You know, kinda like those runway models. Sure they look good in magazines, or draped with the efforts of top designers and make-up artists. But they just look plain old skinny when you see them in the light of day. Skinny and HUNGRY.

Picture this, if you will. A beautiful racing machine, let's go with a Ferrari. Now, I'm sure we've all seen a Ferrari in action, somewhere, somehow. Imagine this Ferrari lined up in poll position for the last race of the season, and the driver is only one first place away from winning the season. Sponsorship deals await. Beautiful models for the driver. Better pit crew and products for the car itself. The thunder as the cars rev their engines in preparation for the green light. Knuckles tightening on steering wheels, and twitchy feet aching to press the pedal to the metal.

The... light... goes... green... and they're racing!

How far do you think that poll position Ferrari is going to get if he's got bicycle tires fitted in place of you beaut, super duper, fantasmagorical, racing tires? Even better yet, if he's got an engine that's never been serviced, ever.

You're right. Not very far at all.

But what's this got to do with skinny models or losing weight? I hear you ask.

Muscles. Muscles are what propel us through our daily lives. The fitter the muscle, the better equipped it is for its job.

Aerobic exercise services your engine. In other words it tones and strengthens the major muscle you need to keep living. Your heart. Weight training, or resistance work, strengthens your other muscles. The muscles you need to get through daily life. Climb those stairs. Get in and out of bed. Pick up the kids/pets. Cook your meal. Bring the shopping in and out. How about opening that jar of whatever that the male people in your life seem to so effortlessly do? More muscle mass.

You don't need to be a musclebound hulk to enjoy the benefits I'm talking about. No one ever accused a gymnast, ice skater or ballerina of being bulky... but they're very, very strong. Runners, swimmers, personal trainers, aerobics instructors. None of them look bulky. (Ok well, some do, but the majority don't.) So why the resistance to resistance training? Sleek, healthy muscles actually make you look slimmer than just cardio workouts and dieting in the long run. Your clothes fit better because they have substance to cling to. Clothes look better on a mannequin than a coat hanger, yes? Muscle is also denser than fat. A lot denser. This means you may weigh the same, but your clothes can be two or three sizes smaller. Muscle also works at a higher metabolic rate than fat. It burns calories just by being there. Fat does nothing except weigh you down.

So, you'll look better, feel better, be able to do things easier, and eat more than you ever thought a healthy person would be able to eat. Bet you're looking at resistance training in a whole new light now, huh?

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