The Truth about Exercising and Weight Loss
But I run on the treadmill 3 times a week!
Exercise is one of the biggest misunderstandings that people have about losing weight...
Considering most gyms consist of about 30-40 treadmills, you'd think that it was the answer to all of your weight loss woes!
Unfortunately, Exercise alone pretty much sucks for losing weight.
Now before you get all defensive, let me explain myself.
I am not saying that exercise has ZERO benefits. I am just saying that exercise ALONE is not the full solution for losing weight.
There are other things such as diet and mindset that are higher on the list of priorities.
That's right, simply buying a fancy new FitBit and going for evening jogs might not be the best first steps.
Why Exercise Alone Isn't Enough To Lose Weight
There are a couple of key reasons why just exercising more is inefficient for making notable weight loss progress.
1. You Aren't Addressing Your Diet
When it comes to losing weight, the most important factor (besides your mentality) is calories in vs. calories out.
To lose weight, you need to be using more calories (calories out) than you are consuming (calories in).
While exercise can help with the calories out side of the equation, neglecting the calories in can lead to little or no progress.
Heck, you could start exercising and gain weight if you don't pay attention to how many calories you're putting into your body!
One reason that your weight loss regimen of "just exercising more" has left you spinning your wheels may be due to the fact that exercising has been shown to increase hunger and appetite. (study)
Especially so in long, drawn-out styles of cardio such as running.
This phenomenon is highly individualized in that the amount of hunger and increase in appetite experienced between two people can drastically differ.
No wonder my workout partner is making progress and I'm still stuck with extra fluff!
Before starting a workout routine, be certain that your diet plan is in check and that you are staying conscious of how many calories you're eating a day.
2. You Probably Aren't Burning as Many Calories as You Think
Another issue with exercise is that most people tend to overestimate just how many calories they are actually burning.
For example, a 150-pound person only burns about 300 calories for 30-minutes of brisk jogging...
Congratulations, you just earned yourself and extra butter role for dinner!
Now, 300 extra calories is still something, and if you were to continue burning those extra 300 calories you'd probably see some progress in your weight loss...
BUT ONLY if you aren't overcompensating by eating too much food ;).
3. You're still mostly sedentary
Yah, you could go out and do your 30-minute jog, but what are you doing the other 23 hours and 30 minutes of the day?
For most people, the day consists of sitting at work, sitting in a car, and then sitting at home. This relatively recent human phenomenon is why I think so many people complain about having a "slow metabolism."
It's probably not your metabolism that is at fault, you unwanted fat gain is more likely due to sitting on your butt all day!
This isn't to say that sitting is a bad thing, but we are definitely doing too much of it...
Here's a fun fact: If a 150-pound person would spend most of their day standing instead of sitting, they'd end up burning an extra 1,500 calories a week!
(BOOM! That's enough to offset an entire day of eating!)
I'm not saying to go crazy and never sit down again, but implementing standing into your daily schedule can help you burn a few hundred calories extra which will inevitably lead to greater weight loss.
Heck, this could help shed that extra 10 pounds you've been holding on to if you do this consistently!
So if exercising is useless for losing weight, why the heck should I even do it?
Ah, well I am glad you asked because there ARE some reasons why you should consider exercising that both lead to a healthier mind and body!
Actual Reasons to Exercise
1. Exercise is good for you Physical Health
There is no denying the positive role of exercise and movement in our overall health.
It can lower your risk of many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and some cancers. (source)
What's more is that exercise, and specifically weight training can help preserve muscle mass while dieting. This will ultimately lead to more weight being lost from fat than muscle. (which is what you want)
2. Exercise is good for your Mental Health
A lot of folks who get into exercise speak to its ability to make them feel "happier". This is most likely due to the endorphins that are released during cardiovascular activity.
Exercise, along with sex and eating hot peppers (funny combo), causes our bodies to release these things called endorphins which promote feelings of excitement and satisfaction.
This is also commonly referred to as the "Runner's High."
Instead of giving some lame and boring textbook definition, I think this Family Guy clip gets the job done just as well...
What's more is that regularly exercising creates a healthy habit. I've written about the importance of healthy habits in the past, and they are one of the key fundamentals of my ebook Envision Yourself Thin
One cool aspect of habits is that they can compound on one another...
That is, by doing one habit, you open up the possibility to create more habits that are in a similar vein.
For example, if you start an exercise regimen and in turn make being active a habit, you'll be more likely to adopt other healthy habits like eating more whole foods, getting a better sleep routine, etc.
So as you can see, adding in exercise alone in hopes of shedding unwanted belly fat is probably going to be mostly ineffective.
However, there are still a plethora of benefits for exercising that can reduce your risk of disease and improve your mood and cognition.
The takeaway is this: If you find that exercise is positively impacting your life (in that it is bringing you more joy and satisfaction) continue doing it.
On the other hand, if exercising is causing you more unneeded stress, then you may want to rethink your approach.
It's important for you to find diet and exercise protocols that are both effective and sustainable for you. This is why I personally only recommend a handful of programs that I find to be extremely sustainable for losing weight and building a lean physique.