The Delusional Mailman Syndrome

The Delusional Mailman Syndrome

by Jonathan Olivencia, Mercedes Club’s Master Trainer

I know what you’re wondering – What the hell is the Delusional Mailman Syndrome? We’ll dive into that and more, as this article’s purpose is to distinguish the difference between physical activity and exercise.

Let’s use a mailman as an example. To make things easier, we will call him Danny. He spends his whole day on his feet strolling a bag full of mail, going from building to building for many blocks. Danny doesn’t go to the gym because at the end of the day he is beat, and he tells himself, “My job is enough of a workout.”

This, my friends, is what I call the Delusional Mailman Syndrome. He has mistaken daily physical activity for exercise and training.

If Danny was getting enough of a workout through his job, as he continues to tell himself, why isn’t he lean?

Well, here are 3 reasons:

  1. Energy Balance
  2. Homeostasis
  3. Physical Activity vs Exercise
  1. Energy balance is the process of creating an equilibrium with the amount of energy (calories) you put into your body to the amount of energy you expend (burn) throughout the day. What does that mean? Well, if Danny was expending 2,000 calories per day, but consumed 2,800 calories, he’s at a surplus. Where does that extra 800 go? Stored as fat.
  1. Homeostasis is a fancy way of explaining your body’s tendency to seek a state of balance within its internal temperature. This is strictly to keep you alive and functioning. However, this process is what makes certain activities that you might have felt were helping you lose weight at first, stop working. For example, let’s say you go from full-time couch potato to full-time mailman like Danny: your level of physical activity has drastically changed. Your body’s temperature has increased and requires more calories to adapt to the new level of activity and physiological demand.

Your caloric needs will increase in order for the body to adapt. If your couch potato days only required 1500 calories and you were eating 2,100 at the time, you were at a surplus, which is why you gained weight. Now you are moving so much, your body needs 2,100. Since you are so busy, you don’t eat as much which has dropped your caloric intake to 1600 calories. You are now at a deficit. You will start to drop weight. After a few weeks to maybe some months, you stop dropping weight. Why? This leads to number three.

  1. Physical Activity and Exercise are often mistaken for one another. Physical activity is any movement from your skeletal muscles that utilizes energy (calories). Therefore, walking to the store, to your fridge or taking a shower, all fit into physical activity.

Exercise, however, is a planned and repetitive movement with the intention to improve or maintain your physical fitness level. Think of a quick random workout you may do on the road with push-ups, squats, planks or any other resistance exercises. You intended to exercise for physiological change and fitness. Walking to the fridge or running errands? Not so much. Now, back to Danny the mailman – he’s reached a state of homeostasis through his physical activity; for weight loss and overall fitness – it just doesn’t work.

If Danny wants to lose weight, he should look at his food intake and start exercising. Not only will it establish a proper energy balance for weight loss, but it will actually increase his fitness level and make him better at his daily physical activity.

Wait, could you go through homeostasis with exercise as well? Yes, you can. There’s also a difference between exercise and training, but we’ll talk about that another time!


Live Fruitfully,


Mercedes Club, Master Trainer

[email protected]



Have any questions? Need some advice? Reach out to Jonathan to schedule a personal training session. If you haven’t done so, book your complimentary fitness assessment and learn more about your body than ever before. Don’t be a Delusional Mailman!

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