The Mouth and Mind Connection - by Marco Girgenti

Why Lack of Exercise Really Has Little to do with Gaining Weight

Emotional eaters, stress eaters, love language and so on. These are some of the labels I have heard over the years used by people who believe they are giving a valid reason why they can’t keep their weight under control, but what these really boil down to are excuses.

Sorry. I know that may be harsh, but to drop the 100 Lb. plus and keep them off, I had to come face to face with a lot of unsubstantiated excuses and also deal with unpleasant stark truths. 

Another phrase which I like to file under “self-coddling” goes something like “I could not exercise, so I gained weight.” In fact, the weight “crept” back up on me. Here is the thing, if you know something is creeping up on you, that means you can see it, or at least feel it as it his happening, you are not unaware of it. If you see a black widow spider “creeping” up on you, are you just going to stand there and let the thing bite you?  

There is so much research that deals with what I will call the “Mouth and Mind Connection.” One angle is that for some reason if we have to stop exercising, we will gain weight. Or, that because we are depressed or stressed, we are slaves to eating foods to alleviate our moods. To me, yes, that is slavery. So let me settle something right here and now; both of these credos are absolute garbage. I can say this with the utmost certainty because I have not gained all my weight back, or anywhere near that in over 10 years and I can assure you that I was 1) not always in a good mood, nor always stress free during those 10 years, and 2) I had layoffs from exercise that stretched as long as 10 months; and yet, that 100+ lb. was nowhere in sight.

It really has little to do with food, it has everything to do with the mind and managing emotions. We know this because some of the main reasons people turn to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, destructive behaviours and the like, are the same reasons they gain weight when depressed; it is a coping/escape system. Since the issues at the root have not been dealt with, low esteem, depression etc. manifests itself in a person by acting out. For some people that acting out involves food and again, for others, it may be substance abuse, approval addiction and so on. We must realize that the ability to control food intake is NOT tied to whether we are exercising or not, it is a choice we make, to let it be so. They are two separate circuits, as outlined below.
 

CONNECTED BUT NOT INTERDEPENDENT 

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Consider a lightbulb’s connection to an electricity switch. On one hand you have a lightbulb that is fully operational and on the other you have a power switch that is also working properly. Now lets imagine that the power switch stops working, the lightbulb will no longer function together with the circuit. However, this does not mean the lightbulb is also broken. The power may be damaged, but the lightbulb is fine. In other words, although they are “connected,”  they are two completely separate things. If you are forced to lay of exercise for a period of time, or you are stressed, think of these as the power switch in our example and think of eating as the lightbulb. Don’t break a perfectly good lightbulb just because the power switch went down by thinking;  “You see? The power switch doesn’t work, so we have to throw the lightbulb out.” That is tantamount to saying; “You see? My hand hurts, so I can’t exercise any part of my body so I have to gain weight.” Or “I am stressed, so that means I can’t possibly control what I eat.”

That is absolutely not true unless you allow it to be so.

Eventually you will get your faulty power switch fixed or replaced, but the lightbulb has been in working condition all along and so has your mind, which means your ability to control what you are eating has always been there. You have just not “turned it on” yet, or worse, you turned it off and decided that one circuit can destroy everything, which is untrue.

Yes, you may have to change what you are eating if the caloric burn of exercise is no longer present; but if you do so, you will navigate through any layoffs successfully. Lack of exercise has nothing to do with substantial weight gain if food intake, both in quality and quantity, are adjusted to compensate.