It seems everyone these days is trying to lose weight, tone up, get fit. And for many, the results are disappointing. Our body is a 'wonderful machine of homeostasis'--it resists change, but tries to respond appropriately to the world around it. The problem is, I think, understanding how our bodies interpret our actions. So, I've written this little piece comparing our bodies to a car...not just any car, but a year 2250 model. One that can alter its structure and performance based on our input and need.
Let me acknowledge that comparisons of this type inevitably fall apart at some point, so please read this in the spirit for which it was intended, not as a treatise on scientific principal. I suppose it is here that I should point out what many of you already know. I am a physician, but please do not consider this professional advice, do not embark on an exercise program or diet without first consulting with a physician...yadda, yadda...
Consider this, rather, the musings of a car guy and how such things may apply to the human machine.
The purpose of this car is to operate efficiently and to be prepared (based on past experience) for what the driver asks of it.
A reasonable default is to configure itself like a tank. It keeps massive energy stores, and crawls along at a relatively slow pace. Things I can do to reinforce this behavior include providing plenty of energy and settling for its pace.
If I don't want a tank...say I'm looking for more of a Miata, the worst thing I can do is cut fuel supplies to the bone. Our self aware vehicle will respond to this by shedding weight wherever it can. As fuel is further restricted, progressively more important systems are cannibalized; the engine, radiator, the frame, etc. We'll have a small junk heap poorly equipped to perform as needed. Additionally this lack of fuel will make this car very fuel hungry. Any gas you give it will sit in the tank, on guard against further cuts. It will not use this fuel to upgrade the engine or frame that has been damaged.
In this same vein, if I decrease the frequency of pit stops or increase the fuel provided there...I'm telling this car it needs to store fuel.
If I increase the frequency of pit stops and provide the car with small amounts of fuel, it can be lighter, confident it will meet its fuel needs and able to concentrate on efficiency (mpg) and performance.
Use high octane fuel on the track, not for the daily commute.
Big high octance human fuels=energy drinks, sodas, high carbs and high fructose corn syrup--these are ok before your 5 mile run.
Good daily comute foods=fruits, vegatables, whole grains--these are great sources for gradual release, steady energy.
This car will weigh more if I drive it on a dyno, than if I use it as a 'canyon carver'--it will realize that on canyon roads, weight reductions affect efficiency and performance.
Human equivalent: swimming is good, treadmill better, walking/running best...
This car will use its down time to upgrade (ie respond to our inputs) using appropriate fuel. If we run this car nonstop, upgrades will not occur and the fuel will just sit in the tank and weigh it down.
Pit stops can be a good time to chat with other drivers, but be careful not to take on more fuel than you intended...
...and this is how I think of my body. It's a machine, doing it's best to react and prepare for the world around it based on the demands I make and fuel I provide...
I hope ya'll enjoyed this, if so let me know and as I think of more parallels I'll be sure and add them...
Edited by SupercenterChef - 9/6/12 at 4:05pm