It’s not diet OR exercise, it’s BOTH

…but one IS more imortant than the other!

As we talk about the struggle to lose weight, everyone has advice to share. The advice we are most often given is to diet and exercise, but it turns out that one of these factors plays a bigger role that the other. While both are key to living a long, healthy life, ultimately, nutrition experts say you can’t outrun a poor diet.  No matter how much you workout, if you have a poor diet, you will never find the results you desire.

We all have heard that in order to lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we take in.  This is going to be nearly impossible to do,  unless you change your eating habits. “A pound of fat is 3,500 calories,” says Wayne Andersen, co-founder and medical director of the weight-loss coaching program Take Shape for Life. “Running a marathon burns 2,600 calories.”  Not really as effective as we would have hoped!  If we rely solely on exercise to lose weight, we would need to run the equivalent of 35 miles per day!  Yes, this is an average and each person is going to burn a different about of calories while working out based on many factors (weight, metabolism, intensity etc)

The reality is, if you want to lose weight, your need to focus on your diet.  No, I’m not saying you need to eat nothing but plain chicken, carrots and celery and drink only water.  We just need to make smarter choices.  We need to be mindful of our calories.  This however is easier said than done.  Most people under estimate the number of calories they are eating.  Honestly, this is easy to do when the average burger and fries contains about 1,200 calories – many even more.  We are a society of “bigger is better” and it shows in portion sizes, especially when we go out to eat.

While going to the gym will help you burn more calories, most people tend to put the calories right back on, almost cancelling out their workout.  When you go to the gym and burn off 400 calories and then go eat a 1,000-calorie dinner, are you really getting yourself ahead in the game?  No.  Focusing on more fruits and vegetables is key to keeping yourself fill and the body running smoothly!  Combining these with more whole foods and limited the about of processed foods can be the key to your success.

One huge calorie “bomb” that most people don’t think about it beer.  The average craft beer can have about 500 calories.  Drink that in about 10 minutes, but it would walk for 2-3 HOURS to burn it off.

Another way to look at this is how the calories in foods differ.  Take that same craft beer, at 500 calories.  Now compare that to 500 calories of apples.  That is a lot of apples.  Most people would be full before they could eat that many apples.  After you drink that 500 calorie beer, most people can go back for another, and will often follow that up with more snacks or food!  Before you know it, you have consumer 1,500 calories or more and still might not be full.

I recommend striving for a more balanced plan that focuses on fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grain carbs. And never cut calories too low (this causes your metabolism to slow, and you can start losing muscle mass).

Once you have your diet down, adding exercise can help you see results faster.  Many times, people who do 150 minutes of physical activity per week will lose more than those who don’t add the exercise.  The most interesting part is that the time spent exercising, no matter if it is all at once, or broken up throughout the day, the results are the same.  Someone who works out in five 10-minute intervals would see the same benefit as someone who works out for 50 minutes straight.  Keep in mind however, if you only have 10 minutes here and there to workout during the day, there is nothing wrong with that!  It is still better than doing nothing!  Even doing little things throughout the day can help the exercise minutes add up!  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Park further from the door at work or when you are doing errands.  Doing these little things soon becomes habit and it all adds to your results.

In the end, losing weight is about small victories – everything you do adds up to create meaningful change.  Yes, it is difficult, but you can do it. It requires time and effort, but the payoff is huge.

Need help getting started?  I can help!  Weight loss is tough, but it’s not impossible!  It’s all a matter of finding what works for you and then creating a plan, empowering you to get the results that you desire!

Amy is a Certified Health Coach who’s goal is to empower individuals  and provide them with the tools they need to step out of their comfort zones and reach for their goals.  Be sure to subscribe using the link to the right to have recipes, information and more delivered right to your inbox!



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