Operation NEPA (Not to be Confused with Operation JAWBMOYSWBM*)

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I read an article by my good friend Leigh Peele not too long ago which talked about the role that NEAT/NEPA play in our daily lives. For those not in the know:

NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

NEPA: Non-Exercise Physical Activity

Both are essentially the same thing, and can range anywhere from gently tapping your foot on the ground while you’re patiently waiting in line at Starbucks, to taking the stairs rather than the escalator.

We all know that in order to lose fat, we need to be at a caloric deficit. This can happen through a decrease in total calories, an increase in physical activity, or a combination of both. Unfortunately, with regards to the former (dieting), your body hates you. Metabolically (and hormonally) speaking, your body will do everything it can to preserve fat. I mean, when you think about it, you’re basically working against thousands of years of evolution when you go on a diet. The body can’t distinguish between your attempt to get six-pack abs and well, starving. As such, it will do everything it can to keep the body “alive.” To illustrate my point, I’m going to steal from Lyle McDonald’s book, The Ultimate Diet 2.0

Underfeeding

Calories…………………………….down

Protein………………………………no change or up

Carbs/fat (energy)………………down

Insulin………………………………down

Total Testosterone……………..down

Free Testosterone………………down

GH…………………………………..up

IGF-1……………………………….down

Thyroid…………………………….down

Catecholamines…………………up

Cortisol……………………………up

Leptin………………………………down

Gherlin…………………………….up

Cellular Energy State…………down

Protein Synthesis……………..down

Bodyfat Levels…………………down

Muscle Mass……………………down

NET EFFECT……………………..body is systematically catabolic

To summarize: metabolic rate plunges (t3-t4, leptin decreases), you feel hungry (gherlin increases), you don’t move around as much (NEAT/NEPA are non-existent), and people pretty much hate being around you.

Personally, I’d much rather see people attempt to increase their physical activity (NEAT/NEPA included) than go on some prolonged diet that’s only going to make them look like an Olsen twin. As Leigh pointed out in her article, when trainees are more cognizant of including more activity in their daily lives, fat loss tends to soar because they’re burning more overall calories throughout the day. Mind you, I’m NOT implying one shouldn’t reduce their caloric intake. Rule #1 for fat loss is total calories (calories in vs. calories out), lets not get carried away.

Rather, all I’m trying to say is that many people take it to the extreme and reduce calories too low in the first place. As I alluded to in the list above, underfeeding leads to a cascade of events (hormonally) that tend to lead to in-activity, and less than stellar results.

Nevertheless, in an attempt to increase my NEAT/NEPA, I’ve been going for a lot of 30 minute walks around Davis Square in the mornings before breakfast, and I’ve even resorted to folding my laundry and making my own ham sandwiches for a change. Additionally, and while this falls outside the lines of what NEAT/NEPA entails, I’ve also tried to make a “to do” list to complete throughout the day while I’m at CP. As an example, every hour I try to do 20 push-ups, or maybe 20 body-weight squats, or I might throw in some low-grade mobility/flexibility drill like squat-to-stand w/Reach:

So, what are YOU going to do today? I realize that many of you are at work as you read this and are going to be restricted. But who’s to say that you couldn’t sneak away for two minutes to go do some scapular wall slides in an empty office? I mean, if everyone else can take ten minutes to go smoke a cigarette, why can’t you get away to go work on your scapular-humeral rhythm?

UPDATE: since I originally wrote this blog this morning, I’ve already gone for a 30 minute walk, rescued a litter of kittens from a dumpster, planted 14 apple trees, moonwalked through Faneuil Hall, and washed my cereal bowl. That’s NEPA people. Ya got served!

*Jessica Alba Will Be Mine, Oh Yes, She Will Be Mine

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