Whenever you ask somebody about the best way to lose weight, they always suggest more exercise. I get it. Our bodies were designed to do things. We are animals with a metabolism tailored to actually do work. I’m going to throw this secret out there and duck so I don’t get hit by flying rocks. Exercise is not going to melt away the pounds.
Is the coast clear? Let me start by saying I’m not a trained nutritionist, personal trainer, or medical professional. These are just the opinions of a fat guy that has been working hard to become a less fat guy. Exercise really is great. Exercise does burn calories and it will help you to lose weight in so many ways. It won’t, however, make the pounds disappear. Too many people have bought into the idea that they just don’t move enough. For most people, a lack of exercise may be “A” problem, but it’s not “THE” problem.
If you work out at the gym, don’t assume you are going to drop a pound the next day. It takes burning 3500 calories to get shed of a pound of fat. How many calories did you burn on the elliptical? 500, maybe. If you did that every day and changed nothing it would take you at least a week to lose a pound of fat. It would actually probably take longer than a week. You would lose some muscle as well and muscle ranks in at only about 600-1000 calories per pound.
Who wants to work that hard for that little? You’ve got to pay attention to how much you are eating. I’m not saying only eat greens, or paleo, and vegan. I’m saying pay attention to how many calories you are actually consuming. You’ll see better results if you do eat better foods, but you will still see results eating crappy foods if you just know how much you are eating.
Now don’t think I’m telling you to skip the exercise. Exercise is great for you. Exercise definitely helps you lose weight. On top of weight loss, there are so many other positive side effects. For example:
- Feeling blue, exercise can brighten you up. I know you’ve probably heard about the rush of endorphins that come from exercise. It’s not a shot of happy juice, but studies have shown that exercise can help reduce symptoms of depression. Exercising just a couple of times a week can be as effective as pills in some instances. Those same chemicals also help to lower your current anxiety levels and even reduce your susceptibility to anxiety. Hit those treadmills to heat up and chill out.
- Sleep like a queen on a king size mattress. Nobody sleeps enough anymore. Well at least many of us don’t. Recent numbers suggest up to 40% of the world has difficulty sleeping. Your fitness tracker probably tells you every day that you should focus on sleep. Exercise can take the insomnia right out of your sleep pattern. It only takes 30-40 minutes of exercise 3-4 times a week to toss and turn you into a sleeping machine.
- Stay sharp, even when you are old like me. Everybody slows down as they get older. Just like old knives, we get dull. Exercising between the ages of 25 and 45 has shown to help prevent degradation of the brain in the areas that are responsible for memory and learning.
- Get smarter than a 5th grader. Those brain benefits don’t stop with old fogies like me. Exercise increases the chemicals need to build brain cells and improves decision making, higher thinking, and learning. Studies have shown that sprints can actually increase vocabulary retention in adults. Maybe you won’t become the next Einstein, but you can definitely kick a little butt in Words With Friends.
There’s about a gazillion other great benefits of exercise. If you don’t believe me, let me google that for you. Exercise isn’t going to instantly make the weight disappear, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it. You should embrace it. Find some exercise you like and go for it. There is an activity out there for everybody. Try crossfit, running, rock climbing, cycling, swimming, yoga, zumba, kayaking, hiking, walking, skipping, weight training, dancing, ellipticals, treadmills, rowing … get the picture? If you try things, you are sure to find something you enjoy. When you do find it, do it.