I am a personal trainer so you would think I would encourage clients to exercise as much as possible. I do, just not for weight loss. What, may be saying to yourself?” But I am overweight because I don’t exercise enough.” Well, you could think that, but you would be wrong. Really wrong.
First, let me list a few of the really good reasons you want to exercise:
1. Perhaps the best reason to exercise is that many studies show that people who exercise somewhat briskly for 30 minutes 6 days a week have a lower rate of death from all causes. Fewer heart attacks, less cancer, even fewer accidental deaths. Don’t believe me? Look up “All Cause Mortality Study by Dr. Kenneth Cooper.”
2. Next up, exercise improves your sensitivity to insulin. Part of the problem with Adult Onset Diabetes is that you have plenty of insulin in your bloodstream, it just can’t get into your cells to do its job. When you exercise you make it easier for your body to use the insulin in your blood stream. That is a good thing.
3. Weight bearing exercise prevents osteopenia and osteoporosis.
4. Exercise has been shown over and over to improve mood better than any drug on the market for depression. Drugs for depression can have such awful side effects that people hate taking them. Exercise has side effects too, but they are all positive.
5. Studies are starting to show that the more cardiovascular exercise you do, the lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is.
So, why is exercise a poor way to lose weight? If I went out and walked 2 miles in 30 minutes, I could expect to burn 200 calories. People tend to overestimate the calories they burn during exercise. Conversely, people tend to underestimate the number of calories they consume. Many people take a short walk and think that because they did that, they can have a piece of dessert after dinner. Even if someone walked briskly for 1/2 an hour, burned the 200 calories, most desserts or treats clock in way over 200 calories. I highly recommend buying an inexpensive pedometer that you can clip to your belt so you can see how many steps you are taking a day. 10,000 steps is the goal. You don’t have to do that right on the first day if you have been inactive. For the first few days, just wear it and record your steps. After that, start increasing your steps by 10% each week until you get to 10,000 steps per day. Counting calories is a dreadful way to lose weight. All processed foods come with a nutrition label. It is easy to count calories. Still a big problem with obesity in this country. Buy the foods that don’t have a nutrition label. A pear, or a sweet potato, or some black beans.
Another thing to consider is that exercise will stimulate your appetite. So by exercising, you will want to eat more.
If exercise is not the way to lose weight, what is? Glad you asked. Food is what causes weight gain and weight loss. It seems food manufacturers and fast food restaurants don’t want you to know the truth. As long as the information out there is that you just need to exercise more, and if you just would, you would lose weight; it is your problem and your failure. It has nothing to do with the food manufacturers and fast food restaurants. Actually, most restaurant meals are pretty unhealthy, not just fast food.
In the grand scheme of things 3500 calories translates to a pound of fat on your body. Every time you consumer 3500 calories more than you expend you gain a pound. Every time you eat 3500 calories less than you expend, you lose a pound. However, not all calories are equal. Your body metabolizes 100 calories of apple far differently than it does 100 calories of apple pie or apple juice. First of all, in 20 years of being a personal trainer I have never had a client confide in me that they were overweight because they ate so many apples. Apple pie, yes, apples, no.
There are a few books I highly recommend you read if you have struggled with your weight. There are YouTube videos of the authors being interviewed and there is plenty of information online about the books if reading this sort of information is not your thing. The first is “Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease” by Dr. Robert Lustig. Dr. Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF. The book is fascinating and will open your eyes to just how bad sugar in your diet is. Dr. Lustig believes that much of our problem with obesity is because of the sugar in virtually all processed foods. Dr. Lustig also wrote, “Sugar the Bitter Truth”. Also very good.
The second book I recommend is “The End of Overeating” by Dr. David Kessler. Dr. Kessler points out that our brains are wired to respond to pleasure. One way to make food very pleasurable – read addictive – is for food manufacturers to combine sugar, salt and fat in the same food. Aside from the fact that food packaged in Mylar bags generally does not have much nutrition, it sets the stage for you to overeat. You know this is true, just think of a bag of chips or other crunchy, salty, greasy snack, you don’t stop eating until the bag is empty. So cookies are sugary, fatty and a bit salty, fries get a coating of sugar with their fat and salt – once you start eating, you just can’t stop. Obese people are not just big, they are malnourished also!
The way out of this mess is to start eating a plant-based whole foods diet. Your food cravings will disappear, your health will improve and you will finally be able to lose weight and keep it off.