By Debbie Mcneely
There are many weight loss shows on TV today that demonstrate people losing 10 and more pounds per week through strenuous exercise. It seems like we learn very little about the actual diet that the contestants eat, but a lot about the physical exercise that they do and it looks brutal! Because of these TV shows, and other demonstrations in the media, many people who set out to lose weight immediately start exercising. This is great that people exercise more, but often exercise and diet is tied together too strongly.
If you are trying to lose weight, how many times have you used the excuse that since you skipped exercise today you’re already a failure so you might as well eat what you want? Or worse, you exercised so you treated yourself to a super high fat chemically laden “treat”. For this reason, it is important to learn the value of exercise and not over estimate its importance. The truth is, exercise is only about 10 percent of the weight loss equation, but diet makes up 90 percent.
So, don’t go crazy eating and think you will run a marathon each week to burn it off. It’s better to lose the fat through eating right and use exercise to create health and good body tone. There is no denying that exercise plays an important function in health, but weight loss, isn’t really one of them. Mayo Clinic studies have shown that exercise “demonstrates no or modest weight loss results” and that “exercise without a healthy diet is not likely to lead to significant long term weight loss results.”
Weight bearing exercises have excellent results for your muscle tone, and aerobic exercise can improve lung function exponentially, leading to better fitting jeans, and a healthier life in general. However, exercise alone without a change in diet will not result in a significant weight change. A healthy diet, however, with or without exercise will result in weight loss that is both significant and long lasting. It is important to realize that even if you exercise regularly, you still need to watch your food intake. Not just how much but what, when, where and why.
What — Eat healthy whole foods that are as natural and as close to nature as possible without pesticides, chemical additives, and are as close to their natural state as possible. For instance, eating a sliced organic tomatoes is better than eating tomato sauce. Eating a slice of whole grain bread that has stems and seeds in it is a lot better for you than eating white bread. Choosing to eat a baked apple with raisins, honey, and cinnamon is better for you than eating apple pie with crust, high fructose corn syrup and other addictives. There are substitutes for everything, so you never really need to feel deprived.
When — Eating when you are hungry automatically makes any food eaten taste better. Learning to know the difference between true hunger and “mouth” hunger will go far in helping you determine when the appropriate time to eat is. At first, you might need to simply use the clock and eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks a day in a controlled environment during prescribed times. Learning how it feels to be hungry will help you learn to know when to feed your body.
Where — Eating mindfully at the table instead of mindlessly in front of the TV will help assist with your weight loss efforts. Additionally, being completely aware of what is in the food you eat is important too. Most mainstream information is erroneous so you might have to dig deeper for the right information. Consider who developed the information and what their goals and motives are before taking it as gospel. For instance, the new commercials about “corn syrup” being no different than sugar are deplorable and completely wrong. While I have no love of white sugar, high fructose corn syrup is extremely dangerous and prevalent in many if not most processed foods today. If given the choice, stay away from high fructose corn syrup.
Why — Eating for nutrition should be the first goal of every meal, but so should the simple pleasure of food. Eating food is supposed to be something pleasurable. Unfortunately, due to a life of eating chemically addictive foods our taste buds sometimes have to be retrained to enjoy natural whole foods. Once you start eating for nutrition first, the pleasure will follow. A day will come when a cup of raw strawberries tastes a hundred times more delicious for dessert than strawberry shortcake. Just give it time.
Following these rules of eating, instead of over exercising which has serious consequences of its own such as muscle and joint pain, headaches, insomnia, low energy, more colds, and decreased performance, it is important to exercise moderately for the right reasons. The right reasons for exercise are so that your heart and lungs are properly oxygenated and your muscles are toned not so that you can lose weight faster.