I didn’t eat that banana bread! I’ve been eating a whole lot of other stuff though so this year might wind up being a wash or I might even gain a pound or two. It’s important to keep these things in stride though because before I lost the majority of the weight, I was gaining 10+ pounds per year.
I’ve written a lot about nutrition and how I was successful (and failed!) in changing my eating habits but I haven’t spent much time writing about exercise. Exercise, as we all know, is the key to weight loss. At least that’s the message from all those exercise machine advertisements.
However, it is very difficult to out-exercise your diet. If you are routinely eating two to three times more than you should, you will need to do two to three times the amount of calorie-burning. It’s great that exercise can help with weight loss but it does have limitations.
The big secret is that you don’t have to do any exercise at all to lose weight. So long as you are consuming less than you burn, you will lose weight, and there are many, many ways to do that through diet alone.
But, exercise definitely allows you to eat more and it has other benefits. It can improve mood, reduce the risk of diseases, and even boost energy levels. For those reasons, I think everyone should exercise. But in a practical view, I don’t think just wanting to lose weight or boost energy is enough motivation to exercise regularly. If it were that simple, everyone would be doing it.
That’s why I advocate setting an exercise goal based on likes and interests instead of accepting the sort of societal messages we have about needing to hit the gym and lift a bunch of weights or spend hours on an elliptical. The truth is those things can incapacitate you with boredom. I read this great comic over at The Oatmeal about the vanity of gym culture and it has always stuck with me. You have to fall in love with exercise. And you can’t do that if it makes you miserable.
Now, it’s totally possible that gym culture speaks to you and gives you joy beyond measure. If that’s true, great, you fell in love! But if you’ve already tried going to the gym and failed, maybe the problem isn’t you; maybe the problem is the gym.
When I first started out, my goal was basically walking. Walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise out there. It’s low-impact, you can do it for a long time, you don’t need any special equipment, and it’s free! What I enjoy most about it is that it is accessible. You can pop some shoes on and head out the door. You don’t need to drive anywhere, you don’t need to sign up for a gym membership. It’s all right there.
But a funny thing happened when I started walking. Before long, I wanted to run. And so I did. But I took many missteps along the way which I’ll share in my next post.
Everyone deserves a day off so I will be taking next Monday off to celebrate Christmas, but I’ll be back in time for the New Year, hopefully with some inspiration to share!