This is Day 5 of my six pack challenge.
This is the final stage of my fat loss phase having dropped down from 205 lbs to 173lbs.
You can get a look at my diet here: 1 Meal a Day – and you’ll see that other than walking briskly twice a day for 30 minutes, I don’t do any other exercise.
I love exercise, but…
I love exercise, but I like to do it for fun or as part of a challenge, but not as a means to lose weight.
Getting the eating part of a diet under control is difficult enough without adding strenuous physical exertion into the mix.
I’m not saying don’t do it – do it if you want to, if it helps you, or if you like it. I’m just saying that I haven’t, and it hasn’t held me back at all.
There are a number of good reasons why you might want to exercise (beyond walking) when you’re trying to lose weight, I don’t dispute that.
I’ve been there and done that and seen for myself how beneficial it can be. But…
With previous diets where I’ve incorporated elements of weight training, running and other cardio, I’ve had a difficult job sustaining both the exercise and the eating habits.
Less exercise is better?
So this time I decided to concentrate on the eating and add in exercise later when I’ve lost the weight and aiming to achieve some specific fitness goals.
On a diet you usually eat at a calorie deficit which often leaves you feeling hungry throughout the day – which isn’t too much of a problem until you start to exercise heavily.
Exercise exacerbates hunger
I’ve found that the biggest drawback to exercise when dieting is that it exacerbates hunger.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I put in a solid two hours of snow clearance.
Overnight we had the first snow of the year and it left a 15cm covering which needed to be cleared from the driveway and the footpaths. Not just my mine, but my elderly neighbour’s too.
It was back breaking work and when I’d finished I was absolutely ravenous.
Feeling hungry while dieting is one thing, but the hard labour I’d just done, dialed up the intensity by several notches.
A diet killer
It reminded me how I’d often felt when I was doing a fair bit of gym work. It also reminded me why I so often failed to stick to my eating plan.
With my current diet, I’ve learnt to tolerate my hunger and resist the temptation to deviate from my eating plan but yesterday I couldn’t resist. I had a craving for fatty food and I indulged that craving.
I suspect I didn’t do my diet and real damage, after all, I’d spent a couple of hours burning quite a few calories, but it’s the damage it does to your mindset that can be hardest to deal with.
The temptation is to see it as a failure and abandon the diet for the rest of the day. Doing that once is fine, you chalk it up to experience and move on. Do it 2 or 3 days in a row and your internal voice starts to berate you and remind you how useless you are. This is bad for your diet.
Get the eating plan right
Learning to get the food intake right, with what ever diet you undertake, is probably more important than the additional benefits you may gain from hard exercise (at least initially).
I’ve found that sticking with walking and concentrating my eating plan gives me better results because the experience is the same every day. You don’t get a uniform experience when one day you’re running and the next your lifting weights and this can be unsettling when you’re trying to do too many new things at the same time.
In theory, you should be able to lose more weight, quicker, if you incorporate strenuous exercise from the start, but in reality you might get better results by exercising less.
The point is, sometimes it’s better to tackle one thing at a time. Build up better eating habits. Get control over your relationship with food before adding in any aggravating factors.
This is clearly not a scientific analysis – It’s my personal experience from which I can offer only anecdotal evidence, but if you’re struggling at all with your own diet-and perhaps a punishing training schedule- you might want to rethink your approach.
This is me today 5 Feb 2012:
This is me on Day 1 of the challenge
This is me at 205lbs:
Read more about my diet: