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Burning money

So, I've been using Wii Fit U since it came out in November, and I wear the pedometer that comes with the game.  My daily calorie goal is to burn 672 calories (through exercise).  It's very easy to get caught up in burning calories.  And I enjoy it.  I like walking, running, and doing the games that help me get fit.  It's been rewarding.

But one idea has been recurring in my mind.  That is the concept of burning calories.  Burning calories is mathematically speaking the worst possible reason to exercise.  It's very simple.  Your weight change (in pounds) is calculated by the formula
[(kcals consumed) - (kcals burned)]/3500
That's it.  If it's a positive number, you gain weight.  If it's a negative number, you lose weight. So there are two ways to push this number in either direction.  If you want to gain more weight, you can either eat more or burn fewer calories--either way, you will increase net weight change.  If you want to lose weight, you can either eat fewer calories or you can burn more.

So, why is burning calories so stupid?  Because you can just eat less food.  If the only reason you're burning calories is to burn calories, you're literally burning money.  You're literally just eating something for the sole purpose of working it off.  And I hear people say things to this effect all the time "Oh, now we gotta go burn off all those calories we just ate."  Well, it is true, the purpose of eating is to burn off the calories that you ate, because that's the whole reason we eat.  The reason our bodies crave food is because they need the calories (and other nutrients) to survive.

But what I'm saying is that as far as exercise is concerned, burning calories should be the lowest priority motivation for exercising.  I do not lift weights so that I burn more calories.  I lift because I wish to tone my muscles, and perhaps even make them bigger.  I do not run so that I can burn calories.  I run so that I can improve my cardiovascular system, mostly the strength of my heart.  If I have a healthier heart, I will live longer.  If I have a weaker heart, I will die sooner, most likely of some common heart disease.  There are many reasons to exercise, and I recommend using them as motivation instead of calorie consumption.

Don't work out to burn calories.  Work out to grow muscle.  Work out to train your heart.  Work out to increase your endurance.  Work out to prevent myriad diseases and illnesses that you'd be more likely to get if you didn't work out.  Workout to be healthy.  Trimming fat and getting your body in shape are good consequences of exercise, but are just as easily obtained by controlling your food intake.  I actually lost 30 pounds last fall just from decreasing my food intake, without exercising at all.  Also, if you're working out but eat too much food, you won't trim any fat, so burning the calories is useless if you're eating more.

So, I'll still try to reach my calorie goal with my Wii Fit U game, but not because I want to burn the calories.  I'll do it because I want all of the other benefits of the exercise that I'll be doing.

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