Thursday, April 18, 2013

Too Much Cardio

I’m not sympathetic.

When I look at the fat guy in the gym wasting his time doing forearm curls to lose weight, I feel no sympathy.

When a big tough meathead gets stapled to the bench by 365 pounds—after trying and failing with 315—I don’t feel any sympathetic pangs there, either. Even when I see a girl spend a half hour bouncing back and forth between the yes-no machines—the adductor and abductor units—only to have trouble walking the next day, I can’t muster even an iota of pathos.

Nobody told these people to do these things.

Then, however, I watch my friend Jessica running on the treadmill—day after day, year after year—like a madwoman, and going nowhere. Her body seems to get softer with every mile, and the softer she gets, the more she runs. For her, I feel sympathy, because the world has convinced her that running is the way to stay “slim and toned.”

There’s a Jessica in every gym. Spotting them is easy. They’re the women who run for an hour or more every day on the treadmill, setting new distance and/or time goals every week and month. Maybe they’re just interested in their treadmill workouts, maybe they’re training for their fifth fund-raising marathon, or maybe they’re even competing against runners in Finland via some Nike device. Doesn’t matter to me, because years of seeing my friend on the treadmill has exposed the results, which I’m not going to sugarcoat:

She’s still fat. Actually, she’s gotten fatter.

I’ve tried to rescue her from the clutches of cardio in the past, but my efforts didn’t work until a month ago, when she called to tell me that a blood test had confirmed her doctor’s suspicion: She had hypothyroidism, meaning her body no longer made enough thyroid hormone.

Her metabolism had slowed to a snail’s pace, and the fat was accumulating. This was her body rebelling. When Jessica asked for my advice, I told her to do two things: To schedule a second test for two weeks later, and to stop all the goddamned running until then...

Read more: Athlete IO
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