I was listening to Science Friday on NPR a few weeks back, and the guest was the author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, Robert Lustig. Fascinating interview, and I’m right now reading the book. I’m going to have a lot to say about it, it has really made me think a lot about nutrition, but I want to finish the book before going into all of that.
During the interview, the author stated that exercise does not cause weight loss. He went on to say that you burn more calories watching TV and sleeping than you do by exercising. At first I was like, what the hell is he talking about? Here I am, exercising my butt off and losing weight! But as I thought about it, I realized what he meant. If you exercise and you don’t also change your eating lifestyle, you are not going to lose weight. The amount of calories you burn through exercise will not make up for a crappy diet.
The author went on to say that exercise is incredibly important for your health. He talked about the science behind how building muscle will help control your insulin, which will keep you from gaining weight. His book goes into all this in a lot more detail. It has been my approach from the beginning that I am not exercising to lose weight. I have changed the way I eat so I can lose weight. I am exercising to improve my health, and I have seen so many rewards from exercising. In the measurable areas, my resting heart rate is in the 50s, which is in the zone for athletes, my blood pressure which was always in the prehypertension range is now well in the normal range. I have a ton more energy. Exercising in the morning keeps me in a good mood for most of the day. I can play sports with my kids, for as long as they want to play. I have to work hard to get out of breath, while before all it took was walking up the stairs. My body feels strong, the only aches and pains I feel are sore muscles from strength training, which is usually a good kind of pain.
My point here is that if you start an exercise routine thinking that you will lose weight, and you don’t also change your diet, you may get frustrated very quickly. I say, no matter what, start that exercise routine (remember to make it something you enjoy!) and stick with it. If you don’t feel like changing your diet, you may not lose any weight. You will still be a much healthier person.