Oh Really Time magazine?!?! (with apologies to Saturday Night Live)

Just finished reading Time magazine’s Aug 17 cover story  “Why Exercise won’t make you thin”. Oh Really?!?!

The author of this polemic starts by describing his workout routine as follows:

Tuesday – 35 minutes of cardio “5 minutes warming up on the VersaClimber” and “30 minutes on the stairmill”

Weds. – “a personal trainer will work me like a farm animal for an hour, sometimes to the point that I am dizzy, an abuse for which I will pay as much as I spend on groceries for a week.”

Thursday – one hour body wedge class “a large foam wedge from which I will push myself up in various hateful ways for an hour”

Friday – 5.5 mile run “the extra half-mile my grueling expiation of any gastronomical indulgences during the week.”

Since the author’s attitude towards his own chosen routine is so overwhelmingly negative, one wonders why he does it, especially since he’s not getting the results he desires: “I still have gut fat that hangs over my belt when I sit. Why isn’t all the exercise wiping it out?”  Only the most optimistic (read: delusional) individual would expect to get any kind of meaningful results from the above described routine under any circumstances, despite the author’s non-specific assurances as to it’s intensity.

Upon further reading, the fact that this routine doesn’t allow the author to recklessly eat Italian desserts, French fries, Starbuck’s muffins, greasy burritos washed down with limitless quantities of Gatorade means that exercise is somehow pointless or worse. According to numerous citations throughout the article, exercise only makes you hungrier therefore increasing your desire for poor food choices as a reward for having punished yourself in this manner in the first place.

So exercise => hunger/punishment => eating more => overall weight gain

according to John Cloud, the author of this dubious piece of so-called journalism.


Of course there are studies and so-called science to back up his premise.

One of the sillier correlations this article makes is that between the increased number of people belonging to a health club with the dramatic rise in obesity statistics. Oh really?!?! You mean the typical western diet full of highly processed; high glycemic index refined carbohydrates; saturated fat; chemically modified faux food; low in nutrients isn’t the cause? It’s the fault of health club memberships? Oh really?!?!

The article addresses the concept of motivation or willpower in this manner: “Evolution did not build us to do this (use our self control) for very long.” “If you force yourself to jog for an hour, your self-regulatory capacity is proportionately enfeebled.” Oh really?!?! Evolution did not build the human species to work eight hours a day in an office either, yet somehow countless numbers of adults are able to overcome this same enfeebled self-regulatory capacity and show up for work five days of the week throughout the year.

A “prominent exercise researcher” who happens to hold a chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University states “In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless.”

Oh really?!?! One wonders if all of the people who manage to stay thin with their chosen exercise routine were too busy working out, and making healthy food choices to participate in any of the studies or share their results with the author.

The fact is that when you select an exercise routine that alters your body composition to contain a higher percentage of muscle and an eating plan that alters your body chemistry to be less insulin resistant you will get thinner, you will lose body fat, and you will eat lots of food that will satisfy your hunger. How? To build muscle you must lift weights, working all of the major muscle groups of the body, a minimum of twice a week as the foundation of your routine. To adjust your body chemistry and boost your metabolism you must eat whole foods in the form of vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, nuts and seeds as the foundation of your diet.

A desire to eat endless quantities of nutritionally empty calories in the form of refined carbohydrates, sugar and saturated fat and expect a few hours of assorted random exercise during the week to keep you thin – no matter the intensity – is completely unrealistic if not more than a little crazy. Sugar cravings are usually the result of a diet low in nutrients and can be modified or overcome.

It is lack of knowledge, not the inadequacy of exercise, that keeps people from losing weight. The amazing human body rapidly and positively adjusts to a well-designed exercise program that incorporates weight and cardiovascular training, allowing it to work harder, faster and more efficiently. Will it make you hungry? Of course! Satisfy that hunger with whole foods and your body will reward you with increased energy, a speedier metabolism, increased disease resistance, and yes – it will make you more physically beautiful because of the increased muscle mass, lower bodyfat percentage and better overall circulation, among other things.

So ignore this obfuscating article, despite it’s appearance under the aegis of TIME magazine and find an exercise routine that gives you the results you are looking for.

Your desired results are what matter most and if you are willing to learn, and incorporate that learning into your training, you can achieve those results.

My advice to John Cloud – Stop whining and get ye to a Crossfit affiliate!