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Bob Wilcher: All Bodies Are Not Created Equal

No matter your size, shape or fitness level, get moving to boost metabolism and burn fat

How come I’m not burning as many calories as she is during the workout? I get this question quite frequently, and it’s important to understand how our bodies were designed.

Bob Wilcher
Bob Wilcher (John Conroy photo / www.johnconroyimages.com)

If we take a look at nature, we can see very fundamental rules that have always been in place. Simply put, animals that are active — such as bobcats, cheetahs, lions, etc. — are always leaner, more muscular and more fit than animals that are less active, such as cows and sheep.

If we take a look at humans, the same is true. Triathletes, runners, cyclists and cross-country skiers are more fit and leaner than people who only walk or stretch for exercise.

What do I mean by more fit? This means their metabolism is faster and more efficient at using fuel. The animal that doesn’t move much or expend energy on a regular basis becomes an excellent fat storer while the animal that is moving constantly becomes an excellent fat burner.

Walking on a regular basis and doing yoga and pilates are great practices, but if a large portion of one’s exercise routine is not spent sweating by elevating the heart beat primarily through lower body cardiovascular exercises, then the central core of one’s body is not being trained to be a metabolizing machine. As a result, these people tend to be softer, more overweight and less fit.

For someone who doesn’t sweat during exercise or hasn’t done it for a very long time, this can be a little scary and uncomfortable, but it must be a regular practice in one’s life if they want to have a metabolism that is trained to burn fuel efficiently. Sweating is simply a response the body makes to internal heat. It’s a cooling mechanism. It tells us that we have raised our temperature and changes are happening.

Sweating during a sauna is not the same as sweating during cardiovascular exercise because you’re not generating the heat from your muscles during the sauna. It’s an artificial sweat originating from outside. You should be able to sweat in cold weather if you’re moving major muscles in your legs continuously. You will not see cardiovascular benefits from using a sauna or hot tub.

So, why are you not burning as many calories as the next person? First look at your workout ethics vs. theirs. Are you chatting a lot during your workout? Are you just going through the motions, or do you have a purpose on each machine? Are you sweating enough to drip on the floor? Are you going at the same speeds and exerting a similar effort as the next person? Do you transition quickly from one machine to the next, or do you take your sweet time? These are the first things to look at.

If, in fact, many of the above are similar between you and the next person, then the difference in calorie burn could be related to your physical size vs. theirs, or even their watch is set different than yours. Basically, I would say don’t worry about the next person. If you’re getting a great workout and seeing the results you want to, then keep up the great work. Not everyone burns calories at the same rate, but there are similarities based on how fit and efficient you workout.

Just remember that we don’t make the rules, but if we follow them then we’ll see great results. No matter what size, shape or fitness level you are, you can boost your metabolism and become a fat-burning machine. You can change your weight and health significantly. Take everything you have read about ab toning and butt sculpting and throw it in the recycle bin.

You must become an animal that moves all the time. If you do this, you will see great results. Just give your body a chance to accept the change. It could take a few weeks to months, but once you start seeing the great results, you’ll never go back. It works every time.

Instead of making excuses and feeling sorry for yourself, get some help and make a change. America is still getting fatter and less healthy. It doesn’t have to be that way, but you’ve got to understand the basics of how to change your body. There is no magical pill or surgery that will make everything all better. It’s entirely up to you. No health-care bill will ever solve the problem. You must take responsibility and get committed.

Being healthy means having discipline. If you need help, call me!

— Dr. Bob Wilcher is a chiropractor and personal trainer in Santa Barbara. He owns Killer B Fitness, a personal and group training studio also located in Santa Barbara. Contact Wilcher at www.killerbfitness.com or 805.448.2222.

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