The Body is Like a Battery but is Human Energy Finite?
Donald Trump has a number of unorthodox theories about politics, but his theory of why exercise is bad for you reveals probably the biggest myth when it comes to human energy. He believes that human energy is finite, so why waste it on exercise?
“Other than golf, Trump considers exercise misguided, arguing that a person, like a battery, is born with a finite amount of energy,” writes Evan Osnos in a piece entitled “How Trump Could Get Fired” that appears in the May 8, edition of the New Yorker.
There has been considerable speculation about Trump’s physical and mental health, in part because few facts are known. During the campaign, his staff reported that he was six feet three inches tall and weighed two hundred and thirty-six pounds, which is considered overweight but not obese. His personal physician, Harold N. Bornstein, issued brief, celebratory statements—Trump’s lab-test results were “astonishingly excellent” (compared to what, would be a good debate)—mentioning little more than a daily dose of aspirin and a statin.
Trump himself says that he is “not a big sleeper” (“I like three hours, four hours”) and professes a fondness for steak and McDonald’s. Other than golf, he considers exercise misguided, arguing that a person, like a battery, is born with a finite amount of energy.
In this non-political post, we’re not going to address Mr. Trump’s nutrition or fitness philosophy as it’s just too limited or ridiculous to comment on; and it is worth mentioning that a person with an otherwise optimal lifestyle could live a long and healthy life, playing golf 3 times per week if you “walk” 18 holes. You’ll see it’s pretty good exercise, but there is so much more to fitness.
What we do need to delve into is the myth this article revealed about a person, like a battery, being born with a finite amount of energy. Mr. Trump is the President, so this message is getting a lot of airplay.
His nutrition, and fitness… like everyone else’s life, depend on understanding the truth about energy.
For starters, in Performance Lifestyle Essentials training we agree with the idea that your body IS, in fact, like a battery and we can understand why many people (possibly even most) hold onto the myth that energy is finite. After all, we die, just like batteries do. But that’s where things break down.
Your body as a battery doesn’t run out of energy the way an AAA battery does. It’s constantly recharging. Nor does it operate the way a car battery does, which gets stronger when it’s in motion, even though it may feel that way in your own body. Get in motion and you feel strong, stay in motion and your body tires out.
In a car, the battery has an alternator that recharges the battery and the alternator is only operating when the car is on. It’s purely mechanical. And if a car battery sits, it eventually does go dead. It must be used to recharge.
The body is different. Whether in action or not, it is always either generating energy or regenerating energy in perfect synchronicity, in the inverse proportion to its levels of activity; it is this balance that maintains one’s aliveness at the most fundamental level. Stay driven all the time and your body-as-a-battery battery both burns and wears out. Stay inactive for too long and the machinery dies out.
“Use it or lose it” is based on that premise.
All you need to do is push your body to the limits of exhaustion and then go to sleep to understand that stimulating behavior balanced with recuperative behavior will, in fact, supply you with more energy; and this is required for life.
Push stimulating behavior too far, via super stimulation, as those who suffer from some degree of performance addiction often do, living outside their optimal energy range for far too long, and you’ll discover that this has the ability to do as much damage as addiction to any major drug.
Performance addiction is when one’s psychological stories to excel in comparison to others, drives them to perform seemingly non-stop. It’s sort of how Mr. Trump operates so I can understand why he may think energy is finite. He tends to see things as a zero sum game.
If you were born with a fixed supply of energy (life force or power), then you would technically never tire out until the battery ran out; just like a regular (non-car AA battery does). This is probably where Trumps thinking has stopped. Because at the pace we spend energy today, if we really operated on a fixed energy supply, we’d surely burn our bodies-as-a-battery out quickly, and some do, only to then live addicted to stimulants (most of which are non-exercise, i.e. unhealthy food, drink, drugs, extreme work ethic and the like to keep going) which wear the body out by compromising the machinery.
So. anyone who is aware and awake can see that being born with a fixed amount of energy is not the case. People tire out after short bursts of energy output; how short depends on the intensity and the type of activity and myriad factors leading up to the activity itself.
And certainly, even the President can’t make it even 24 hours without running out of energy requiring at least 3-4 hours of sleep to keep going, which invalidates his hypothesis.
The question is, why?
Before we answer that questions, let’s give the “physiologist in-chief,” who probably knows more about physiology than most physiologists and scientists do about human energy, 😉 the benefit of the doubt.
If we’re born with a finite amount of human energy that means sleep would simply be time for the body to download more energy from the already-stored reserves you were born with that are only accessible in your daily allotment; almost as if you were wearing a companion battery pack. But if that were true, when your energy gets low, why wouldn’t the body just make more stored “battery power” available?
In other words, if you are born with a finite amount of energy, with your body-as-a-battery in the traditional sense (think AA or AAA battery) you are then born with a reserve of energy that you can periodically dip into (in Trump’s case only 3-4 hours per night) to download more energy for use during the day.
Does that sound right to you?
Why would a body with a fixed energy potential even run out of energy in the first place, when it has so much stored up and available? Do AA batteries take the time to rest? No. They just function until they die out.
Well, first, no one has ever located a stored (potentially 100-year reserve of energy) but if you did have that as a fixed amount of energy to start, and you spent it wildly fast, which most of us do, you would be at peak energy while you were alive and then tire fast and die out at some future point when the energy ran out just like an AAA battery. But that’s hardly the case.
Why then would people get so tired and fatigued in predictable cycles each day?
No doubt your body is a powerhouse (generating and regenerating energy constantly); but according to the “born with a finite amount of human energy” philosophy, which implies a pre-charged system is born that can go until it dies, why again would there even be a need for sleep? Why does Trump (or anyone else for that matter) sleep?
While sleep and human energy scientists like to state that we don’t really know the reason why we sleep despite myriad known and good reasons; according to an old text on this subject, “Regeneration Applied” by Keith Guthrie, sleep is somewhat of a recent development in the context of evolution and largely based on the way our culture operates with long periods of energy output requiring a significant period of recuperation and repair as at least one ultra-basic and plausible reason for why we sleep.
I have tested this theory during a few 24-hour medication marathons I did during a major period of awakening in my life. There was less need for sleep as the body was active but at such a low level over that period we didn’t need to sleep much in the traditional sense. Our body was regenerating and not spending much, so we didn’t need to sleep much at all.
In Trump’s view, sleep is positioned as a serious flaw in god’s or nature’s evolutionary human design if this breathing walking bundle of amazingness had a fixed amount of energy and then dies. But that’s exactly, though likely unknowingly, how Donald Trump views energy and why he doesn’t exercise beyond golf.
The probable reality is, he doesn’t have the stamina or endurance (performance) capacity for the bursts of energy required for focused exercise given all the other demands on his energy, especially in this 3QTR of his life.
He is a performance addict.
In other words, his view is flawed, because, the body sleeps (recuperates or regenerates) to avoid or recover from exhaustion, fatigue and the worst case scenario, burnout.
The point here is this:
The body is not pulling from a stored reserve, though there is a scientific understanding of adaptation to stress that refers to deeper reserves of energy (ref: Hanse Selye, “The Father of stress”). The body is constantly regenerating its life force all the time throughout life, and human function is proportional to how well you regenerate, recharge and restore.
The reason Trump and many others (of all political persuasions, as again this is not a political post), think that energy is finite, is because they don’t understand the power of regeneration and its impact on performance; what energy is, how energy is produced and can be increased, proactively, for sustained high-level health (mental health as well) and performance.
They may think they have a limited “stored” supply, but they don’t and fortunately so, as they would all be dead by now if that were true.
That so many people think sleep is optional and brag about it, intellectually divorced from the source, is not based on a conscious understanding of a limited or unlimited supply of energy for that matter, but rather the simple unknown fact that the body is constant recharging. Therefore, they and most people push it. It’s because energy is constantly regenerating and for a good portion of your life, it feels like you can cheat sleep to some degree, though not entirely.
Then you wake up to reality. The human energy system can’t recharge on the fly like the car. It must stop.
That’s why people who don’t understand human energy don’t live very healthy lives or have exceptional longevity, even if their doctor says they are “exceptionally healthy.” Donald Trump will not be the poster child for exceptional health (mental or physical) anytime soon and likely not longevity either.
And as far as energy is concerned, if we really lift the lid, I don’t think Trump is an example of exceptional energy either. One can appear to be doing a lot when they have the level of support he does and there is debate about his level of function and performance particularly now in this period of his life.
The simple observation is that human beings are not born with a fixed amount of energy as human beings tire out and then replenish and then tired out and replenish, tens of thousands of times throughout their lifetimes.
Life Force Energy, which is tied to ion exchange, ATP production and more, is always being restored via countless primary and backup energy pathways in the human body (which is an energy system) at the quantum and physical level and experienced and optimized in human ways as spirit, also via thoughts, language and emotions and of course, physical activity.
Which bring up the final point. Does exercise increase your energy?
Yes, in the sense that it’s the best-known stimulant, with the best ROIe (return on the investment of energy) we can think of. It also makes your body more efficient and with the power of energy, you get stronger as the body adapts.
But make no mistake: It takes energy to get stronger, so if you don’t understand human energy, and have enlightened and practical strategies for managing your energy, over exercising like overworking and over anything can, in fact, burn you out and wear you out. So, in this sense, exercise also depletes energy.
Does that mean don’t exercise?
Not at all, all human activity depletes energy, and therefore we sleep, rest, recover, meditate, relax and rejuvenate; to recuperate the energy we just spent and ideally more. This is where the true definition of balance comes into play and if you want exceptional energy, then you need to restore more than you spend.
Energy expenditure, such as through exercise, must be balanced with recuperation at the very minimum, else you will downward spiral, tire out, and eventually, burnout, wear out and die out prematurely.
The impact of whether you believe energy if infinite or finite.
Ironically, and one of the reasons I am authoring this response is that I used to hold onto the same perspective that energy was finite. It used to give me anxiety thinking that I only had a certain amount of energy to work with, especially when I was overspent.
I was amazed and it changed my life for the better forever when I lifted the lid on this question and got the reality. Its impact on my life was huge and it surely gave rise to a new lifestyle for me. It was also one of the key reasons I became a Performance Lifestyle Coach and Entrepreneur.
Just imagine knowing that you have “access to” an unlimited amount of energy.
It will change your thought process, how you live, work and exercise (potentially IF you exercise) because it opens you up to understand that energy is the foundation of all human function, health, and performance and more so than anything else.
It will also change how you value sleep… because energy needs to be regenerated, regularly and systematically in healthy ways to function; and if you learn to do so proactively, you will experience that healthy, high performance we hear so much about but for many is elusive.