Should We Really ‘Run To Eat’?
“Will run for beer”
Ever hear this saying or something similar before?
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Particularly, how I don’t agree with it.
You see, I began exercising on the regular when I set out to lose 30 lbs four years ago. I counted calories to lose weight, so for a long time exercise was purely a way to burn calories. It gave me a little more wiggle room in my daily calorie allotment and made it so I didn’t lose my mind restricting food in order to shed a few pounds.
As the days went on, I fell more and more in love with exercise. I eventually started doing it because I like it, and not just as a way to lose weight. As I transitioned into weight loss maintenance, exercise not only became my most loved hobby, but also a way to splurge on some of my most favourite treats. Run 6 miles? Awesome, now I get to have dessert today. All without putting on a pound.
But now that I’m a little more separated from the situation, I wonder – is it healthy to use exercise as a justification to eat?
If you were to ask me today, my response would sway towards “no.”
Food and exercise are two very different things and serve two very different purposes. But mostly, I think by creating a relationship between the two, one is setting themselves up to have an unhealthy relationship with both.
I have gained at least 10 lbs since beginning chemotherapy, for a number of reasons. I’m not as active as I used to be (read: no 6 milers here), my eating habits have changed (read: digesting a big salad on chemo is tummy torture) and my most favourite excuse – I’m on steroids, I can’t help it! (same goes with the occasional ‘roid rage)
If I weren’t sick and gained 10 lbs I would immediately turn to exercise to start burning it off. Except this time around I really don’t care about the extra weight. Apart from the frustration of having jeans that don’t fit, I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Like a life threatening illness. Suddenly, the idea of vanity weight goes out the window.
With that said, I do still mildly exercise every day. But this time it’s not to lose weight or to keep it off. This time it’s for a different reason altogether. I now realize it’s the reason why I should have been exercising all along. For my health. Study after study shows that cancer patients have a higher rate of survival with exercise. When I hop on the recumbent bike, it’s not with the idea of burning off the ice cream I ate earlier, or for some notion of vanity. It’s for my health, my real health, and my longevity.
When I’m all better and back at the gym, I won’t reward myself with a beer after because I’ve got the extra calories to do it. I’ll drink beer whenever I want and exercise because it’s good for me.
Today is chemo day – treatment #6. I’m halfway through!