The Exercise Paradox

Over the course of the last two years I have managed to drop 130 lbs. As discussed earlier, I didn't do anything special. The "secret" was eating less and exercising more... Okay, technically the secret is starting out 180 lbs overweight, but exercise has been the most difficult. It isn't because it is hard to do. I'm pretty sure being hard to do is the point of exercise, so if it was easy I'd be doing it wrong. And it isn't because I have no time. Sleep is for suckers anyway. The problem is that I was trained as an engineer.

Over the course of the last two years I have managed to drop 130 lbs. As discussed earlier, I didn’t do anything special. The “secret” was eating less and exercising more… Okay, technically the secret is starting out 180 lbs overweight, but exercise has been the most difficult. It isn’t because it is hard to do. I’m pretty sure being hard to do is the point of exercise, so if it was easy I’d be doing it wrong. And it isn’t because I have no time. Sleep is for suckers anyway. The problem is that I was trained as an engineer.

Exercise flies directly in the face of everything an engineer stands for. Think about it. We are talking about a repetitive task, performed manually, that has been specifically designed to be as inefficient as possible. That is madness! Repetitive tasks should be automated, and you always, ALWAYS, shoot for maximum practical efficiency. The concept of an activity for which the only purpose is to waste energy has no place in my brain. To an engineer the world is just a series of problems looking for solutions, and exercise is nothing but problems that have already been solved. Running? No, no, we have cars for that now. Lifting weights? Seriously, you should at least be using a system of pulleys, but if you give me a few minutes and I’ll whip up a winch for you. Chin-ups? You know, that ladder would be a lot easier to use if you added a few more rungs. Jumping jacks? Just stop that. Just stop it.

Worse, the human body has a lot of moving parts. Engineers know that the more moving parts, the more wear and tear a machine is prone to and the more frequently the machine will need to be repaired. Therefore a smart engineer will seek to limit the amount of motion necessary to perform a task, and will try to distribute the motion as evenly as possible over the whole machine. Then you decide you are going to jog five miles a day. For the sake of health you are going to start pointlessly ravaging your hips, knees, ankles, and feet. At this point the best case scenario is massive beefy caveman legs and tiny atrophied T-Rex arms. Generally speaking if an activity makes you look more like a prehistoric creature, it is a mistake.

Things get even more idiotic when you ask someone to design an exercise machine. Let me get this straight… you want me to design a machine that is efficient at wasting energy. You want maximum mechanical DISadvantage. It is for this reason that I am confident there will always be jobs for human engineers, no matter how automated the design process gets. If you gave that task to a supercomputer, it would detonate. It isn’t a design project, it is a logical paradox. And it doesn’t stop at the designer. Half of the people out there are looking for an exercise machine that will make exercise easy. “This device makes doing situps a breeze.” Well then you are screwing up your situps! Here’s a rule of thumb. If you just finished working out for an hour and you aren’t sweating or breathing heavy, something is wrong.

In the end, the only way I can manage to work out at all is by effectively shutting off the logic center of my brain for 20 minutes a day, but that wouldn’t be enough if there was an exercise machine involved. I don’t have an exercise bike, but if I did you can be darn sure it would be hooked up to a generator. Sure, I’d be going way out of my way to charge my cell phone off the grid, but at least I wouldn’t be spitting in the face of my engineering forebears. Plus, in a way, my cell phone would be running on grilled cheese sandwiches and diet coke, which is pretty awesome.

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About Decoychunk

Editor, Writer, and general Knower-Of-Words, if there is text to be read on BrainLazy, Joseph Lallo probably has his fingerprints on it. As the final third of the ownership and foundation of BrainLazy, Joseph “Jo” Lallo made a name for himself when he lost the “e” from his nickname in an arm wrestling match with a witch doctor. Residing in the arid lowlands of the American Southwest, Joseph Lallo is a small, herbivorous, rabbit-like creature with the horns of an antelope. He sleeps belly up, and his milk can be used for medicinal purposes. Joseph Lallo is also author of several books, including The Book of Deacon Series, book 1 of which is available for free here.