The Vine

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Finally Summer

After a very long grace period, it finally feels like summer in Austin. Nobody, with the possible exception of Trailer Park Girl seems to notice or comment that we have had a blessedly cool summer so far, and it will be cooler within less than two months, which is a very short summer in Texas indeed!

I am one of the few people here who lives without air conditioning. I ride my bike to (minimally air conditioned) work just before noon, and I have to be cheerful to people upon opening the shop. So it can be done, adapting to the heat.

My theory is this: your body's metabolic processes are all done by enzymes, large proteins that break up food molecules, reassemble them, and do just about every biochemical conversion that takes place in a living being. But they are very sensitive to temperature changes, and most operate witin a two to four degree celcius range, some even less. This is the "reason" that some animals (birds and mammals) "decided" to be homeothermic (warm-blooded) which means that we will burn calories to make our bodies cooler or warmer in order to maximize enzyme function. So when it gets too hot or cold, we are potentially burning as many or more calories than we are gaining from enzymatic metabolic processes. Okay, all the previous was textbook, now here is my theory: At that point, your body is faced with the choice of shutting down, just sitting there and doing nothing because it is too hot, or doing a bit of biochemical dirtywork and switching enzymes for ones that work better in a few degrees hotter or cooler body core temperatures. That is the place in adapting to temperature change where we feel uncomfortable and complain a lot about the heat or cold.

The only thing to do is just go right into it and adapt and change enzymes. Be hot for awhile, exercise, don't retreat into air conditioning because that will just fool your body into thinking that it can put off that enzyme job for another few days or weeks even.


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