Good morning and welcome to your Friday. Today I will share Dr. Furhman’s 4th and final myth about weight loss. This one is so hard for to share and needs a lot of qualifying, but in fact, I do agree with it, when stated like this: “Exercise will make you lose weight. ” I know, I know…what is a fitness instructor and trainer doing, spreading the word that exercise isn’t making us skinny?
Firstly, I will say that exercise is paramount to our health, and in no way is Dr. Furhman suggesting we shouldn’t be doing it daily. Working out is great for our health, for building strong muscles, for keeping our heart and lungs functioning at their best, for increasing our longevity and even for burning calories. So what’s the deal? Unless you are training like contestants on the Biggest Loser or doing a few hours of CrossFit followed by a few mile run, the calories you are burning while exercising aren’t really enough to impact significant weight loss.
Let’s consider the math. It takes about a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose 1 pound. The average hour of moderate exercise is going to burn a few hundred calories (depending on your height, your weight, your gender, the intensity at which you perform it, etc.) Let’s say we burn 300 calories during a class. Given no changes in our nutrition, it’s going to take almost 2 weeks to burn 1 pound. That’s a lot of work for 1 pound, but it certainly is better than not doing the exercise, and if maintained for a year you can definitely drop 25 pounds or so, which is excellent. So, what’s the problem?
The average person who works out for about an hour a day, will find they often have an increased appetite, or think that because they worked out, they can eat a little more. Weight Watchers even allows exercise points. If you work out you get to eat more. Often the “more” cancels out the calories burned in the workout. Consider that most healthy, low calorie meals are still more than 300 calories. When you do the math, the myth becomes more understandable.
The one thing the myth doesn’t take into consideration, however, is that when you train for strength, you build muscle and the more muscle you have, the more your fuel your calorie burning metabolism. This means that if you are devoted to your strength training, over the course of time, you will rev up your metabolism, but if you are looking to lose any kind of weight in a timely fashion, your weight loss will really happen in the kitchen, not the gym.
This is important to wrap your brain around so you can make better choices about the food you eat. Adding two tablespoons of olive oil to your salad can cancel out the hour you walked on the treadmill. Eating just a couple of hundred calorie energy bar, will do the same. If you are working out an hour a day, you don’t need the energy bar! If you are an endurance runner, that energy bar is for you.
PLEASE know that there is nothing I believe in more, for health and well-being than working out. I think it is the key to a sound mind in a sound body. It is great for building strong bodies and happy souls. It is the best stress reducer I know and in the end it does help us maintain a healthier body weight.
So what makes sense is going back to the math, again. Loading up on large amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits, and small amounts of lean protein, won’t “cost” you a lot of calories, while filling you and providing all the important nutrients and antioxidants we need to be our healthiest, while still allowing us to lose healthy amounts of weight. If you workout most days and burn a few hundred calories, you will certainly want to couple that with reducing your calorie intake to somewhere between 1200 for a female and 1800 for a male, give or take, again depending on size, age and activity level, in order to reach your weight loss goals. By cutting 500 calories a day and burning 300, you will be able to lose closer to 2 pounds a week, which will help you stay motivated, especially if you have a big number to lose. On Biggest Loser we are told that contestants keep their calories as I mentioned above and workout (intensely) about 6 hours a day. This (along with other things we don’t know….) allow the contestants to lose the big numbers we see on the scale.
With all that said, I will be getting in my daily dose of exercise in various ways, today. I will be at the gym for my 11:30 class. Ellen will NOT be teaching this morning at 8:30 (the class is cancelled until she is healed) but will be there for her 10 am class.
Please get in your daily dose of fitness, too. Today’s entry was in no way intended to sway you away from physical fitness, because it is THE BEST. I am sharing some wisdom from a doctor who has helped so many people reach their weight loss goals.
If you think someone you know may benefit from this info, please share. Have a great TGIF. Hard to believe it’s already May 2. 3 months and the knot will be tied 🙂