I've got this friend, let's call him Chris Christofferson (without all the K's, because, you know...), and the other day he asked the age old question – "What's more important: living a long time, or enjoying the pleasures life has to offer?"

I'm paraphrasing because I didn't really enjoy the way he phrased the question (at least the way I remember him phrasing it). 

CornFlowerIt's hard to argue against trying to stay healthy. I think that even when I've been my most wild and carefree with food, I've still felt guilty about indulgence. So, you enjoy the taste of something delicious and you get to: hate your lack of will power; hate the way you look; and hate the way you feel. Louis C.K. said recently – "I didn't realize that you were supposed to eat to help you feel good. I thought you were just supposed to stuff your face with both hands until you felt too sick to keep going." I'm paraphasing because I'm not nearly as clever as he is.

Exercise is a pretty simple equation for me. As much as I hate to admit it, I feel way better when I'm getting regular exercise. I don't think it's just because of pride, either. I think that my energy level, joints, sleep cycle, and attitude is just better when I've done something. I had to take a break recently for about a month and it was terrible. I felt like my body was falling apart.

Starvation is hard to defend. Studies have shown that caloric restriction in rodents can increase their lifespan by 67.5%. Caloric restriction in humans seems to only yield a 7% increase. That's good news, I guess. You don't get to live forever by dropping to 1500 calories, but you don't have to feel like you're killing yourself if you're not starving. It's a weird tradeoff that I'd be happy to not undertake.  

Have you ever heard of exercise bulimia? That's where you binge on food and then exercise like a crazy person until you feel like you've burned all the calories. There's also a form of anorexia where you eat a reasonable amount of food but then you exercise so much that you're underfed the whole time. You need an easy way to gauge whether you've gone past reasonable. I know people with a terrible body image and they use that as an excuse to starve themselves constantly (I bet you know some too). 

I'll leave you with some warning signs that you may be an exercise bulimic:

  • Missing work, parties or other appointments in order to work out
  • Working out with an injury or while sick
  • Becoming unusually depressed if unable to exercise
  • Working out for hours at a time each day
  • Not taking any rest or recovery days
  • Defining self-worth in terms of performance
  • Justifies excessive behavior by defining self as a "special" elite athlete

 

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