Using exercise as a band-aid for crappy eating habits


I read an article this morning which was published in Time magazine last month. It created a small buzz when it first appeared but I don’t think it received the amount of attention and publicity it should have considering its importance…if only people would listen to what it has to say. It basically verified some strange things I’ve seen over the years with some overweight people I’ve been known.


The article, entitled Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin, takes on the popular and widely-accepted notion that exercise is a necessary ingredient to any weight-loss plan. It shatters the myth we’ve all bought into: namely, that if you exercise your ass off you will become skinny. I sorta bought into it also but with a large dose of skepticism. It seemed too convenient and there is nothing simple about weight maintenance.


I’ve known 2 people who were extreme examples of the failure of exercise as a weight loss tool…2 people who led such “active” lifestyles yet managed to maintain soft, mushy physiques.


#1) “K”, from high school and college years: The dude ran off to aerobics classes daily, it seemed. There was not a gym class he wouldn’t try. Yet…he was a large guy. He was not obese, but he was just a big, Fred Flinstoney kinda guy. I would have expected him to be cut as hell with 15% body fat. But no, to the contrary. He had no muscle definition. He was fleshy and lumbering and I would put him at 23-25% body fat. Summary: not “obese” in the typical sense, but you would expect more from such a gym rat as he.


#2) “J” from recent years. This chick was obsessed with fitness. She participated in marathons and -athlons of various types and sizes. She was fond of sending “action” photos of herself running in marathons. (What the hell is up with that man…who wants to see a picture of you frozen in time looking like you’re ready to keel over and smelling foul, most likely. What am I supposed to do, be impressed or aroused by that?). Anyways, J ran and swam and was also a gym rat. Once again, you’d expect her to be shredded and maybe hovering around a 20% body fat level (excellent for a woman). Nope, she had thunder thighs and was always battling the bulge. Summary: once again, not obese, but you’d expect that level of activity to leave her with something lower than a body fat level of 29ish.


So anyways, my real-life anecdotal experience always told me that exercise did not correlate with lean bodies. Beside J & K, I’ve known others who went down that route also. Worked their asses off just to be…chunky. Something wasn’t registering.


John Cloud, the author of the Time article, must have experienced the same disbelief because his article takes on our commonly-held beliefs about exercise and puts them in their place. He brings up several very interesting points about why exercise seems to fail as a weight reducer.


The primary reason and the one I found most interesting has to do with our capacity for self-control. Cloud pointed out a study which showed that self-control is like a muscle…that it will weaken shortly after you use it. And a lot of the researchers quoted in the article believe our capacity for self-control weakens after physical exertion. We exercise and consequently we become hungry. Since exercise is viewed as such an uncomfortable and evil necessity which we must bear to “look good,” psychologically we feel the need to reward ourselves afterwards. And we eat shit.


The article also points out that from an evolutionary standpoint, humans are ill-equipped to burn off excess calories. In other words, once we eat beyond maintenance, our bodies quickly store the extra as fat rather than work to burn it off, thanks to our lack of “brown fat,” a specific type of tissue which dispenses with fat more efficiently than “white fat.”


This adds up to one simple fact that dooms us to failure when it comes to weight loss: exercise cannot ever keep up with our food intake. Even when we think our food intake is small, it really is not. Our eating habits and food self-awareness are seriously flawed. Our palates have become so seriously desensitized to the scourge of bad food that we have lost the ability to judge our own hunger levels when it comes to survival and body maintenance. Cloud talks about how some of his wife’s friends complained about how they run for an hour and still aren’t losing weight. Turns out they are stopping at Starbucks for muffins afterwards. Even a full hour of running burns 300 calories, at the most and a brisk walk much less. Yet they are rewarding themselves with a muffin. That’s ridiculous. Even a “diet” muffin at Starbucks is still about 400 calories. Much of this is about awareness. And defeating self-denial. You can’t eat everything in sight just because you worked out last night.


It always comes down to the food. Eating less of it.
Unfortunately it is much easier for most people to go to the gym and jump around frantically and turn their work out into some kind of social dance activity than actually alter their bad eating habits. So they use exercise as a means to gloss over an unhealthy diet.



Dark Charm. A philosophy in progress. Part 1 of ?

Dark charm.
What the hell is that?
I don’t know, but I have an idea. Or two.
Dark charm. The concept took root in my mind earlier tonight.

Rather than lose the thought, rather than write it down half-heartedly in a notebook which would most likely disappear into the papery graveyard that is my computer desk, I’ve decided instead to gather my mental semen and unload it on you right now.

This is the torment I choose for you this evening.

You lucky people. Lucky.
You can watch and take this in…watch the machinations of my mind, get a rare glimpse of the gears turning in my thick skull.

Dark Charm. Back to the lesson at hand. Enough of this random stream of consciousness BS (that is why I have a Moments in Time category).

Forget the Dark for now…let’s concentrate on Charm.
A quality.

Charm…a baffling and elusive set of personality characteristics which all come together in a melange of ingredients which dictate whether a person will garner adulation or elicit disgust. It can be the difference between getting laid and waking up drunkenly and groggily at 3:15 in the morning in the passenger seat of your car which sits in the middle of an emptied parking lot next to a deserted nightclub. Uh yeah, honestly it was scene I was familiar with in my 20’s.

For a lack of charm.
Dark, light, shady, illuminated…I had no fucking charm of any shade. No charm that mattered. If I was charming it was only because I stumbled upon it, backed into it, revved it up those moments when it did me no good, like family events with doting old relatives or rambunctious kids. My charm had no steering wheel, no gas pedal and no brakes.

For what is charm really? I’ll say it’s the ability to make people like you by a process of sympathetic identification; to charm people is to make them believe that there is no one else in the world besides you and them. The degree of your charm is a function of how well you can suspend their disbelief at the possibility that there are others who you may charm as well. Your supreme charm appeals to the ego and the basic human need to be valued. But how do qualities come together in a person’s character which allow them to generate such charm? That is the mystery.

Those charms I talked about, the ones I stumbled upon? They were really nothing but illegitimate bumps in the road over which I had no control.

Lacking the means to channel my charm I found it eluded me when I needed it most.

Charm. It’s a tool of social survival. It is the common glue which the fittest of the species have cultivated and learned to direct with the ostensible aim of rising within the ranks of the group; thus increasing the likelihood of procreating. Survival of the fittest.

That is my evolutionary psychology spin on Charm.

And that’s where Dark Charm creeps in.

Ah…but some other time :)

My issue with them dar Homos

Man, remember when queer men were men?

Remember when you couldn’t tell if your neighbor preferred rump roast which had stewed in the “cock pot” overnight?

The days when you were wary of that bachelor neighbor who was a little too old and too friendly for your taste and who couldn’t reciprocate the unbridled female T&A lust that could easily bring you to your horny knees?

Man, remember when homos walked and sat like men and cussed like men, when they could round up steer (the kind that roamed the pasture, not Santa Monica Boulevard) and get a little dirty?

Yeah, those days are long gone.
Now you get this Queer Eye For The Straight Guy crap and our culture has suddenly made gay men the official arbiters of “taste.”

Whatever. I think the whole thing is nothing but a fallacy that has taken root in the popular mindset, unquestioned and accepted as a common truth. Without an ounce of skepticism! Such is the state of our sheepish and soulless pop culture. Don’t question, don’t doubt, accept everything your equally clueless classmates proclaim as truth. It’s fucking high school, writ large. And in keeping with the shift of this homo paradigm it seems gay dudes are now living some kind weird self-fulfilling prophecy because they, of all people, lack the balls to be their own men. They’d rather be everyone’s men but their own…so very womanly of them.

Why can’t queer dudes just act like…uh, dudes maybe? Why the swishing and womanlike bullshit? Why the high-strung and bitchy female behavior? Why must they act like they are on the rag and deny their testosterone-endowed even tempers? That’s my problem with homos.

Looking at the bright side…you can now see a queer from miles away so you can head off your neighbor by throwing your rump roast in the freezer if he comes knocking at your door.

Middle-aged and miserable Moment in Time


Friday, September 4
Line 40, Montebello Bus Lines, Westbound into and through East Los Angeles
7:45 a.m.


City buses all have the identical layout,
rows of forward-facing seats, two apiece, vestigial windows that barely open enough to let air in to blow out foul public commuter swarthy odors and let in streams of hot air on steamy days. Uncomfortable hard seats, squashed in barely enough
room for ONE
person but if you get 2 and you’re pushing it. One person invariably wins the battle of the knee and will bully their way into dominating the seat space.
If you sit next to a woman you will win the space war by
she is a dyke and sits like a man to let her imaginary balls air out.
The back of the bus has two bench seats which run parallel to the sides of the bus and if you sit across from someone on the
mirror image bench seat…
psychology dictates that you will find many clever and weasel-ly ways to avert having to
stare at the person in the face
very uncomfortable unless you happen to close your eyes and feign sleep. Or do like I do listen to my Ipod and zone out by staring into the urban distance (which means no distance because this is the goddamned city and the horizon is cut short by ugly buildings and ugly grafitti and some incredibly ugly people wearing shocking clothes.


And here I am unpacking and unravelling the twisted maze of wires that are my
Ipod earphones. I’m on my cellphone in conversation. I talk barely loud enough for for the person on the other end
of the line
to hear me.
I don’t perform on the stage, my phone conversations are not for public consumption.


Unlike neo-Rush.
He sit and TALKS on the back row of seats, a bench, at the very back of the bus that sits right over the hot engine which bakes your ass and back on hot days
he sits there on the back in the right corner. In the middle is a pretty girl with glasses and at the other end of the bench on the left corner is another pretty girl who does that pretty girl thing which means to punch away at a cell phone in order to avoid
committing to an expression of interest
in her environment.
She is doing that pretty absent girl thing. Punching at those keys.
And neo-Rush
on the cell phone
talking loud
drowns out my conversation
drowns out my words and thoughts
he’s like amped up static and I’m like a low muted buzz like a television station’s signal
3:15 in the morning just like the old pre-cable days when television went to sleep
with everyone else. That
was my conversation.
A low buzz.


neo-Rush jars my thoughts and words.
I finally hang up and end my cell convo and struggle valiantly to untangle
my Ipod cord
and put his loud voice to sleep.
For once and finally.
He drones and drones
and seems to enjoy performing for the folks the outcasts here on the back of the


A captive audience.
I try to ignore him.
But he sounds
Not just white but country trailer park white. He sounds super White a very odd
thing to hear
on the bus which runs through ELA. Most of the phone conversations on this bus, line 40
are not White-sounding no way Jose, it’s all accented and Spanish pidgin derivations of badly spoken English or failiing that, just Spanish.
That’s all you hear on line 40.
Except this time.
neo-Rush sounding very Wyoming white
and talking way too loud
about faggots and transvestites.


And I fill in the blanks. Middle-aged white guy with a life that is audience free.
So now stuck on the bus with helpless and prone
people he goes on a bender of sound and airs out his grievances, BELLOWS them out so all can hear, and finallly
he has his own talkshow!
Pretty girl married to her cellphone keeps glancing
at neo-Rush. And looking pretty and pretty…amused.
And girl in middle staring straight ahead and acting
And I finally untangle my earphones and slip on the buds and listen to Joy Division.


And put neo-Rush to sleep zipper his little talkshow ass
and he finally floods outta the bus near downtown in his blue pants blue shirt.


Unhappy man, lonely man, needs audience. Bus doors close…you’re it baby! Check it out on the AM dial…



Blogroll addition: Hot Chicks with Douchebags


You know, I would not call myself the hippest thing on 2 feet.


So the term used to describe a lot of guys I’ve seen roaming the streets and walkways of L.A. has escaped me…until recently, thanks to that vast wasteland of human knowledge and experience, the internet.


And this is how I discovered that the word I was looking for all this time was simple and sitting right under my nose: douchebag.


That is the most apt description I can think of.


It refers to those “peacock-y” guys who saunter around in their inflated sunglasses (with insecurities to match) and print-busy shirts and jeans even. Who the fuck ever thought of applying prints to jeans?? Jeans should have a label, at the most, maybe some individualistic stitching. But designs? How misplaced is that. My son has a pair of jeans like this…luckily they are a bit subdued and nothing else he wears is over-the-top, so I don’t feel the need to give him a 5-year-time out, just yet.


These guys can frequently be sighted with outlandish hairstyles propped up and enhanced by a normal man’s 2-week dose of hair product.


So…when I first discovered Hot Chicks with Douchebags I was freakin’ train-wreck captivated.


The site is a photo-heavy pantheon, a temple, dedicated to narrating and illustrating the state of modern-day douchehood! It’s a fabulous and cautionary lesson for other young guys who are contemplating a journey down the aisle of hair paste and supersized belt buckles…or God forbid, trucker caps, faux hawks and a Pelican Bay level of tatooism.


Granted, there are times a couple may be singled out for douchehood that I feel may not be entirely deserving of the label, such as this




although, quite frankly, douchehood is not only dress, it’s style as well. And though these 2 may not scream douchehood by their attire (it’s hard to dress douchey when you’re at the pool) their actions speak it loudly. That pseudo-gangster warrior pose with the Billy Idol surly lips…umm, disregard, these two are major Douches. Major.


And of course, there are times Doucheness is unmistakable and easily spotted:




Awesome stuff. I need to get my digital camera ready and contribute my own sightings. And there are many.