Week C – Calories and Carbs

Calories and carbohydrates: two fearful C-words for anyone with the slightest interest in health and fitness. In this post I talk about the way in which many people today view health and exercise and what I think is wrong with popular perceptions.

Impossible to envisage, both calories and carbs seem like abstract, unwelcome entities that somehow find their way into our innocent and unsuspecting bodies.

C - Dessert

Few of us pretend to know the science behind these pests, and yet the common opinion is very negative.  Calories and carbohydrates are the artful enemies against which we must take drastic measures in order to triumph.

And to fight this battle, we have only two weapons to hand. Abstinence, yes, the forward planning (but unsustainable) approach. But more vitally… exercise.

Our nation’s concern about the rise in obesity has given our minds a skewed outlook on exercise.  The emphasis on the importance of daily exercise has given this positive activity harmful connotations in terms of its relationship with the consumption of calories.  One exercises because one consumes.

To give a bit of a back-story, I joined a gym in January and I’m proud to say I’ve been going regularly!

I first decided to go because I felt like I wasn’t being active enough anymore.  I wanted to be generally fitter, but it’s also turned out to be a psychological health boost too.  Exercise is a great stress-relief; it’s refreshing to have a change of scenery and pace after a day in the office; and achieving goals is really satisfying.

There’s just one thing that vexes me.

Whenever I start a statement with ‘when I was in the gym the other day…’ or ‘I went past X on my run this morning’, I meet baffled responses like ‘why do you need to go to the gym’.

Now let’s get one fact straight. I’m not doing any of this exercise because I need to lose weight. In fact, I’m probably trying to do the opposite.  But why should I not go to the gym, just because I’m not in desperate need of it?!

I’m not pretending to be an expert, but this would definitely suggest a prevalent notion of an unhelpful exercise-weight relationship.

Unlike team sports such as football or solo activities like cycling, gym-going and road-running are seen as things that your average Joe or Joanna would only ever dream of doing if they were trying to lose weight.

For many, exercise is an important reaction against weight issues; that much is true.  But we would be wise to remember that proactive exercise has many more benefits.

Not only could regular exercise lead to excelling abilities and winning medals, but also you will feel happier, be more energetic, gain health benefits, and even sleep better at night.


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