“When I was young like you I had a fast metabolism and was in the best shape of my life! I’m too old now. You whippersnappers better enjoy your youth while you have it!”
….is the chant of every once-fit but now out-of-shape desk jockey. It’s not surprising, it’s much easier to blame a factor that is theoretically out of your control for getting out of shape than it is to realize your fitness is completely within your control.
Why You’re Out Of Shape
As a starting note, it’s been pretty well documented that your metabolism doesn’t actually slow down that much as you age. It DOES change over time, but not nearly enough for it to be the culprit of your weight gain. The reason you don’t seem to have the “metabolism” you did when you were 18 is because:
- You used to play sports or play outside for hours a day after school
- you now sit in a chair for the bulk of your day, drive home, and sit on the couch for the bulk of the night
Your metabolism isn’t slower, YOU are slower. If you’re a sedentary adult male of average height, chances are you need something in the ballpark of ~2000 calories to maintain your current weight. 2000 calories, that’s eat. To put that in perspective, I could probably consume close to 4000 calories in a single meal if I was hungry. 2000 is not a lot of real estate to work with! If you eat like a typical american might at the office, you probably clear 2000 calories by lunch.
Poor diet gets most of the flack for contributing to obesity, but in my mind our lack of exercise and movement is equally to blame. The human body was built to move! Further, your lack of movement doesn’t just cause you to gain weight—but is also host to a number of other mobility and muscoskeletal problems. A few examples of these are:
- anterior/posterior pelvic tilt
- internal/external femur rotation
- general glute/hip weakness
Muscular Imbalances Are Destroying You
Suffer from low back pain? Knees hurt when you squat? These are pretty common issues, and i’d be willing to bet the root of the problem is the fact that you sit in a chair all day. Our muscles aren’t designed to remain in a static position throughout the day. They NEED to be stretched and used to remain strong and functional!
As an example, imagine what is going on around your hip when you’re sitting. Your hip flexors are contracted (shortened) while your hamstrings are elongated and underutilized. Imagine what happens if you MAINTAIN THIS POSITION THROUGHOUT THE DAY. Eventually, you wind up with a pretty crazy muscular imbalance where you have over strengthened hip flexors that pull your pelvis forward—resulting in that goofy looking appearance we call anterior pelvic tilt.
The problem with muscular imbalances that develop from a lack of movement is the “spillover” effects that they tend to have. For example, if you’ve developed tight hip flexors as a result of overuse, you might suffer from the following:
- an awkward/inefficient gait when you walk
- difficulty engaging your core fully. This is a HUGE problem as your core is your basis for stabilization—this can leave you much more prone to injury even in day-to-day life
- lacking the mobility to squat to depth (proper hip mobility is CRUCIAL here)
Again, these are just a few examples. What i’m trying to highlight here is that, for a lot of you, this might all begin with sitting in a chair all day. To recap how that happens:
- You stop moving as much and become increasingly more sedentary
- muscles that would otherwise need to be active AREN’T (IE-glutes when you’re sitting)
- you develop muscular imbalance
- this imbalance leads to an entire HOST of other problems with flexibility, mobility, and strength
- you can’t even train properly in the gym for some exercises because you lack the mobility to do so
You Need To MOVE AROUND!
In short, something seemingly as little as sitting during your desk job throughout the day can lead to huge problems in terms of your physical function. It’s something I’ve only started to think about more recently, but the more I do, the more I remind myself—humans are built to move, not remain stationary.
Hope that convinces you to get outside and be active or go crush a gym session. If you need a bit more help structuring your diet—check out this article!