Updated: Sep 30
My son once told us, "My friends asked me why I'm so competitive. I told them you know how some parents ask if you want to play a game? Well mine do by saying, 'get to the driveway so I can kick your ass at basketball."
What's funny about us saying that is there's no way we can kick our kids' butts at basketball, we just say that to be funny. And to motivate them to make us eat those words.
But over time, our silly family culture of trash talk and competition fostered a level of action and activity that got built in. It became our normal.
Those little extra bits of activity add up to improve overall health and boost weight loss.
Those little bits of extra activity are N.E.A.T. - Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis means calories you burn during spontaneous movement that is not exercise.
Things like..... - Walking to your car. - Carrying a box upstairs. - Playing with your dog.
- Having a spontaneous family Nerf war on Christmas Eve
This extra movement contributes to your overall caloric burn, but more importantly, it’s just super damn good for you.
Super damn. Write that down. I always felt it seemed trite to suggest people take the stairs instead of the elevator and park far from entrances to stores, but after working with hundreds of clients, I am often surprised at how programmed most people are to take the path of least resistance; the easy route. Now, I’m not talking about fussing around and being late to work, or taking the stairs even if your knees ache; but when you can do more, why wouldn’t you? It’s one of the simplest changes to make to improve your overall health. ------ In our family, we’ve got this down pat. Those who know us IRL won’t be surprised to hear that we are a tad….. competitive.
And, being raised near the family farm and by me, a trainer, and Rob, a black belt in karate, our kids were exposed to a lot of N.E.A.T..
And I'm not just talking about my NEAT personality! 😉
PHOTO: Not only did we make our kids' friends help haul firewood, we made them wear matching shirts.
One of the things we pride ourselves on, and compete in, is hard work and not taking the easy route. So, for example, when we're in a mall or an airport, there's no taking escalators - only stairs. Unless you want to get teased mercilessly by the others.
One time Rob forgot and hopped on the escalator, and our son looked back at him, and said, “Dad, come ON” and shook his head in disappointment.
Now, it's all in fun, and it just evolved that way over time, but it has instilled even in me this different... standard. If I'm at an airport alone, even though no one would know if I didn't, I take the stairs.
PHOTO: I didn't actually climb onto my 10 year old's shoulders.
Rob and I currently live in a third floor apartment. And here's the ironic thing - our options to get from our parking space to our 3rd floor apartment are to either climb the 3 flights of stairs that are right next to our parking spot, or walk all the way to the front end of the garage to use the elevator, and then have to walk all the way to the other back end of the building to get to our apartment.
Our options are stairs or a long walk.
Occasionally, yes, that's a huge pain in the poo-poo place. But mostly, that's N.E.A.T.!
Studies show that N.E.A.T. can vary among different people by as much as 2000 calories!
So that person who seems as though they got lucky with a higher metabolism? It’s likely they move a lot more than average.
I fall in this category now as much as ever! In addition to the stories above, I carry dumbbells into clients' homes and then back to my car - so that's 8-16 carries per day. I do the warm-up with my clients and of course demonstrate every exercise. I hike on my days off. I don't sit much.
So my strength and stamina don’t just come from exercise. It comes from incorporating more movement into my days.
Having more strength and endurance *feels good.* And you get there by doing more, moving more.
You’re already neat. #flattery
Now find ways to get more N.E.A.T., too!