Exercise to feel better, not to lose weight

May 1, 2014

Lose Weight, Feel Better.

Many people are motivated to lose weight in order to look better so as a chiropractor at A Spinal Health and Movement Center, I am often asked “What exercise is the best for losing weight?”  The question seems backward to me, I don’t like the idea of recommending strenuous exercise to lose weight.

For successful weight loss, I suggest healthy nutrition and smart food combinations (avoid simple refined carbohydrates, sugary drinks, and fast food) and include fruits and vegetables as much as possible.  This is usually a good start, and many people will lose weight this way, and keep it off long term. So rather than focusing on hours of strenuous exercise that will leave you frustrated, fatigued, and possibly predispose you to injury if done too quickly without allowing the body to adjust to the new demands and forces on the joints…focus on exercise as a part of your lifestyle and weight management, not weight loss.

Of course, it doesn’t mean you should not exercise, in fact, exercise is so much more important than just having the “right” body image.  Exercise, when done consistently, no matter whether it’s biking, swimming, hiking, running, dancing, or yoga is so much more beneficial to the mind and body, than seeking the image people want. Alternatively, some people diet without exercise, which I think is a mistake- because you will likely gain the weight back if it is done for the wrong reasons and without thought to the benefits of proper and routine exercise.

I was reminded of this today as I read an article in todays in Shape Magazine stating the many benefits of exercise such as reduction in anxiety, boost in immunity, reducing disease (heart disease, diabetes), helping sleep and improving overall mental health.

I totally agree that these reasons alone are sufficient motivation to get moving.

Use it Or Lose It!

In my opinion and experience, when people are trying to exercise to lose weight or to get the “right” body image, their brain is really subconsciously trying to get them back to a time and place when they were more fit, had more time, and possibly better mental health.  To be sure; stress, pain, and disease take a toll on a person, and the mind seeks a place and homeostatic set point (sort of speak) of another time when the body was better able to move and function.

In fact, when one is in chronic pain, the brains neurons will decrease dendritic connections and will actually result in a reduction in the body image of the limb or body part that is in pain, missing, or immobile.  This is a kind of phantom pain syndrome on a functional level and our somatic blind spots will only increase if our bodies are not moving, and we are not aware of the area that is not being used.  And as far as the brain is concerned, a part that it is not aware of is the same as a part that doesn’t exist.

Use it or lose it applies to neurons as well as muscles.

Warning Signals!

Our minds tell us stories in order to  think we want to look better when we are actually seeking more movement, and attention to our bodies, and possibly time to enjoy the things we used to.  Advertisers and Marketing Corporations are aware of this and will feed into and exploit this real biologic warning signal that comes from a bottom up unconscious awareness of body neglect.

Our brain’s neurons will fire signals much like a car will signal when tire is low or engine maintenance signals.  Only we have difficulty seeing them as signals.  We misread what the brain is alerting us to do.  Our ego’s filter neuronal information and we misread what the brain is saying.

We need to reassess our thinking from time to time and have the courage to make the changes needed to improve movement, attend to our bodies, and make real lasting changes in our lives daily in order to stay healthy, and truly alive.

This is the vibrancy that we remember from our youth that our brains subconsciously whisper to our conscious mind but our ego mis-interprets.


Dr. Ramirez

A Spinal Health and Movement Center



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