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[From BlackDoctor.org]

The rate of morbid obesity is higher than ever in America. So is the rate of moderate obesity. “Morbid” obesity means at least 100 pounds heavier than a person’s ideal weight. Many very overweight individuals insist they’ve tried exercise – and still, the weight just never comes off. Maybe a few pounds here and there do come off, but for all practical purposes, the frustrated person is unable to shed the unwanted surplus fat.

It’s true. Many obese people try to lose weight to no avail. Not long ago, I was perusing an online message board about obesity. A woman who described herself as being morbidly obese wrote that she was not lazy, and that she had given exercise a try. She described how she worked out on an elliptical machine for just 15 minutes and ended up with very painful knees.

I detected a lot of frustration in that particular posting and it seemed as though the elliptical incident was intended to demonstrate the struggle of trying to lose weight and not succeeding. The woman obviously thought that if she adhered to elliptical workouts, she’d damage her knees.

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But here is what really happened: Her knees simply got buzzed. That’s all. They got awakened from a long sleep, roused from dormancy. They were not used to what she put them through for those 15 minutes. So after she was done, the “pain” surprised and frightened her. This woman was just unaccustomed to the feeling of worked joints and muscles, that it scared her into giving up after only one session.

We can safely assume that those 15 minutes were NOT spent pedaling at high resistance as fast as possible. When a very de-conditioned person gets on the elliptical, having never used it before, he or she is going to be reserved and err on the side of caution, rather than go all-out in a furious blitz. A person cannot injure the knee joint this way, unless the joint is already torn from a recent trauma.

When the body is subjected to a training stimulus that it is not accustomed to, it often reacts with “pain.” But in her case, as well as in the case of many unsure overweight people, the “pain” was not from injury (i.e., torn ligaments, ruptured or strained tendons, damaged cartilage, torn muscle, hairline bone fracture). The elliptical trainer is a gentle, non-impact machine. While you pedal, the knees are not forced to turn or twist, as in skiing or basketball. Your weight does not come bearing down on your knees, while you pedal on this machine.

Essentially, she shocked her knee joints with an unexpected stimulus, and they reacted with lactic acid buildup and a feeling of “pain.” This is a very foreign feeling to a person who’s never exercised. Exercise, by definition – my definition, anyways – involves subjecting the body to a training demand that it is not used to. The demand can be in the form of duration (length of time), intensity (speed, pedal resistance), and the actual activity itself (body position, range of motion).

The body has the amazing capacity to adapt to an unfamiliar training stimulus very quickly. Had she returned to the elliptical two or three days later, and did the exact same thing, same speed, same pedal resistance, after 15 minutes, her knees would not have been as sore as they were the first time because it takes only ONE session to stimulate a training effect. Had she then gone on the machine a third time, she would have felt even less sore, but she didn’t even go on the second time. She gave up. This is the crux of the problem: giving up!

Is exercise supposed to feel comfortable?

Well, is it? Read the rest of the article here and tell us about your weight loss woes.

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