This past week, I got another email asking one of the most popular questions I get: “What exercises should I be doing so I can lose (blank) pounds for (blank) event?”
After working many years in this industry, it should no longer be a shock when people figure out what I currently do, to get asked for all my “lose weight quick secrets” that I supposedly have magically stashed in my back pocket.
Come to think of it, the same thing happens when these same wonderful people I run into find out I am a nurse
Although that is more, “Hey, what do you think this gross looking thing is on my back is (as they proceed to lift up their shirt)?”
Yep, definitely happens…more than I like to admit!
Anyway, back to the topic at hand…why you can’t lose weight with exercise.
Tami was a college student who was only trying to lose about 20 pounds that came to me a few years ago.
She was very active + was on her college’s swim team. But, despite being active throughout the day, she kept gaining + losing the same 10 pounds. I don’t think I have come across another young woman who does as much cardio exercise every day as Tami.
Tami had spent many hours in the gym with not results to show for.
Want to know what exercises I told her to add to her routine?
Instead this was my response: “You can’t out exercise a bad diet”.(If you spend any time following people in the diet/fitness world, you have probably heard this repeated many times)
I think after all the weight loss stuff we see on a daily basis, not to mention shows like the Biggest Loser (yes, I do like that show despite the point I’m trying to make), we tend to think that weight loss requires hours and hours of heavy intense stuff in the gym.
So, why am I saying you can’t lose weight with exercise alone?
…because it just isn’t that important for initial weight loss. Yep. There I go. I said it, but hear me out.
The KEY here is INITIAL weight loss. I didn’t say it wasn’t important at all for your entire weight loss journey.
To fully understand why, let’s take a look at different calorie intake/burned comparisons. On average, if you would run for an hour you would burn a whopping (sarcastic?) 300 calories. Then if you ate about 20 gummy bears, you completely undid all that work you did for that hour run.
So basically, it takes A LOT of exercise to make up for a bad diet.
Then you get into the problems with exercising. It can increase your appetite which can lead to overeating. It can make you tired the rest of the day which can cause you to be more sedentary leading to fewer calories burned overall.
That hour you spent on the treadmill will definitely not give you permission to eat whatever you want.
So, should you skip the exercise altogether?
I like to think of it this way. Changing your diet is the #1 thing you can do to kick start your weight loss. Exercise is what you do to give it a boost, improve your overall health, + get working on creating those lean, toned curves all of us shoot for.
If you do diet alone, you will lose weight. However, when you lose weight this way, you are losing both fat + muscle weight. Muscle weight is directly tied to your metabolism. To put it simply for the sake of keeping this blog post short, the more muscle your body is carrying, the faster your metabolism.
Your body has to work harder to maintain that muscle which means you burn more calories at rest (or when you are not working out).
So, think of exercise as helping your metabolism stay nice + healthy + fast. It helps your body to maintain any weight loss + gives your body a boost for further weight loss goals.
Which brings me to Tami’s results…
She was able to lose 14 pounds. Why not the full 20 that she was going for? Her body composition completely changed. She was no longer “soft”. She gained muscle (+ muscle weighs more than fat).
Which gets me talking about scales + why you should ignore them…but that’s a subject for another time 🙂
The point is, we changed things up for her, changed her focus, + as a result, we were not only able to get her the weight loss she so desired, but she loved how her toned curves fit in her team’s swimsuit/uniform!
So, Are You Ready for my Secret Sauce for Ultimate Weight Loss?
Well, I hated to break it to you, but there really is no secret formula or quick fix. It takes time and takes some work, but definitely is achievable (for life, not just for a few months).
Stop yo-yo dieting now. There are thousands of different diet books out there + you will lose weight with pretty much all of them. However, they typically are restrictive + not practical for carrying on long-term.
What every long-term holistic nutritional study has come back showing is that the people who ate mostly plant-based whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, 100% whole grains were able to make the largest weight loss gains + keep it off for years. The more of these foods you eat + the less processed foods you eat, the more weight loss you will notice.
The best thing about this my clients report is the increased energy, libido, fertility, + overall feeling better!
Bring on the carbs 🙂
Nope. Not crazy. What do you think vegetables + fruit mainly are? Carbs…so are they bad for you? Carbs is another topic for another day, but please, please, please stop giving up carbs. Your body NEEDS carbs…it is how it gets its energy!
For more diet information check out this blog post I have already written on it: The Nutritarian Diet Review
While your diet will be the early key to initial weight loss, exercise should NEVER be ignored! Start exercising with the goal of being healthy, not for how many calories it will burn.
The exercise recommendations are to get at least 120 minutes of cardio exercise per week. This could be taking a walk around the neighborhood. It could be playing tennis with a friend. It could be hiking. Have some fun with this. What activities do you enjoy or are interested in trying out?
Next, you will need some strength training activities. This is the key to boosting your metabolism + being able to maintain your weight loss.
For more information about how to fit in some strength training + what sort of activities to do, check out my free PCOS Exercise Cheat Sheet (How to Exercise to Lose Weight, Boost Fertility, + Feel Fabulous when you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
P.S. Leave a comment below: What was the #1 thing you hated about the last diet you were on?