I’m really serious about this!
Exercising as part of a weight loss program could be detrimental to your progress.
The way most people attack weight loss is to go on a diet that involves a calorie deficit and physical exercise. The physical exercise is designed to get you stronger or fitter but the primary motivation is often as a way to burn extra calories.
The difficulty comes when you try to change three major lifestyle habits at the same time.
Not only does the diet require you to eat at a deficit, which is a tough habit to develop all by itself – but usually it also requires you to cut out certain foods and replace them with foods that are not part of your normal diet and not to your tastes.
Two major pain points right there. Eating much less than you normally do AND having to survive for what could be months eating food you don’t even like.
And that doesn’t even factor in the faffing about you’ll do with preparing and timing the meals, balancing the proportions of fat, carbs and protein. Dull.
So before you’ve even stretched the unflattering Spandex running shorts over your flabby bottom (probably the same day you start your diet) you’re already in tough territory.
The next habit you need to form is doing some hard physical exercise.
- It’ll be hard because you’ll go hell for leather believing you need to punish yourself to make it effective.
- It’ll be hard because it will physically hurt you if you haven’t done any for a while. Your joints and muscles will be screaming at you.
- It’ll be hard because you’ll be reluctant to jog your wobbly belly around the block every evening through fear of ridicule.
- It’ll be hard because at some point you’ll get injured.
- It’ll be hard because when you’ve undertaken hard physical exertion you are ravenously hungry.
And the hilarious thing is that could all happen on the first day!
Will you fancy living your life like that for the next 60 days? 30 days? 2 weeks? Nope! You won’t even get to the end of the first week.
It gets horrible when you start to fail in one or other element. I know, because I’ve done it.
Fail to go running or weight training and you don’t burn as many calories. You have to adjust your diet and eat less. Ouch. Plus, you also feel like a failure.
Fail to stick to the diet and you don’t create a caloric deficit. You have to exercise more (or harder). Double ouch. Plus, you also feel like a failure.
If you’re not in a good place mentally or emotionally to begin with, these setbacks can really undermine your confidence and resolve. You’ll quit the diet, quit the exercise and return to the behaviour that got you fat in the first place.
Why do we even approach weight loss this way?
- It seems logical to get fit and lose weight at the same time.
- It’s what everybody else does.
- We’re impatient and want results now!
Hopefully you’re doing this as part of a lifestyle change. Meaning that when you’ve finished the diet and reached your goals you’re going to continue with the good habits and healthier eating.
It takes time to embed those new habits and to learn how to eat healthier and adjust our tastes.
You want lasting change so take your time and do it properly – it’ll be faster in the long term!
I mean it… Don’t risk injury
You might be lucky and avoid injury if you’re determined to exercise while you lose weight. You might only sustain minor niggles like pulled muscles, swollen joints.
But before you go getting all gung-ho with the exercise, keep in mind that injury doesn’t just impact your weight loss program, it can also impact your life.
Want to know how I sliced the cartilage in my left knee?
Running cross-country up a steep hill, 30lbs over weight at 41 years of age. Good times! Not.
It felt like someone had stuck a red-hot poker through my kneecap and into my joint. A searing pain that caused me to black-out.
It plagued me for 18 months before I was able to have a surgery on it. I couldn’t run on it, and when it flared up, even walking would cause it to lock out.
I had the surgery in the summer and was unable to use my leg for two weeks. It’s taken me six months to heal properly and I’m still not confident enough to run on it.
I’ve just managed to lose 30 lbs through dieting alone because I didn’t have the option to run. And trust me, I would’ve if I could’ve!
Instead I walk the dogs twice a day for half an hour at a brisk pace. It doesn’t really count as exercise (actually it does – walking is great exercise, it’s just so easy it doesn’t seem like it), but it is fun and it gets my heart going just enough to make a difference.
Got a lot of weight to lose?
Do yourself a favour… if you have more than 30 lbs to lose, work on the diet first. Get your mindset right, get some good habits in place and lose your first 20 lbs before you reach for the Lycra and running shoes.
Don’t think you’re safe in the gym either. I’ll tell you about my rotator cuff one day.
Exercise is fun and good
I’m not against physical exercise, I love it, but do it because you want to get fit, not lose weight.
Do it because it’s fun, do it for the challenge, do it to win a bet, do it for the sheer hell of it – but don’t do it to lose weight.
Go see a doctor before you throw yourself into a serious exercise program. I don’t say this merely as a disclaimer because I’m speaking only from my personal experience and I’m not qualified to tell you how to do anything more than tie your shoe laces and I’m frightened you’ll sue me.
I mention it because you’re about to embark upon an amazing life changing experience. Possibly the turning point in your life, and I want you to get off to the best start. I want you to enjoy the process and get excited as much about making it happen as the desired end result, because that’s what will keep you going and ensure your success.
I’ve made some great progress in my own diet and I’d love to hear how you’re doing. Let me know in the comments!