What's better for weight loss Diet or Exercise?

It’s that time again.  The start of a new year and a new you.  With that come the revelations of what we need to do in the next few months to make our lives better and our bodies trimmer.

There is a little secret that I would like to share with you, something that I have known for a while. In fact, it might be something that we have all known, but just aren’t willing to accept into our current conscious of living better. 

So here it is.  Drum roll please. 

Exercise is not the leading factor to losing weight.  YIKES!  Yes, I said it.  I will probably lose all my potential clients in the new year, but it is true.  I recently attended the Spokane Health and Fitness expo where I saw lots of hopeful people out there looking to sign up for Barre classes, cross fit, personal training, Pilates, Yoga etc.  Many of my friends and colleagues from their own studios were busy chatting these potential clients up on their latest classes, prices, and promotions.

It’s what we want to hear. It’s what we are hoping for. “If I join a gym and get moving, I will lose weight.”  It sounds good and it definitely has merit, but here are the facts. 

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When it comes down to it exercise does burn off calories but not as much as you think and the leading factor to weight loss is diet and lifestyle changes, not exercise.  

Maybe you have seen some of the research out there that is now finally coming into mainstream media.  At the start of the new year, one of these articles showed up in my inbox and I really knew it was time to set the record straight.  Just read, Exercise myths. 

The way to take off the pounds is to eat less and eat healthier more nutrient rich food.  Simple huh?  Well, not so simple. 

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No one wants to immediately give up their comforts because our relationship with food can be complicated.  How many of us have had a hard workout and reward ourselves with an extra little something, like a cookie, a snack, a drink - because we think we’ve earned it or have burned enough calories to warrant it.  I am a person who loves food as a reward.  I like to eat and I like to eat well.  I may not be a fried food junkie but put a cheese board in front of me and I am all at it.  

Often times when you start a new training program you tend to get hungrier.  Your body might be used to fueling a certain amount of calories each day and when you add in exercise it’s wants to maintain that amount.  So the real caveat here is whether we are ready or willing to put our will power to the test and really start changing our eating habits.  Sometimes it’s easier to start doing something than to stop doing something. So we tell ourselves we will start exercising, but we aren’t going to give up our chocolate, glass of wine, or mid-afternoon cookie. 

But don’t fret.  It doesn’t mean that exercise isn’t a part of a healthy lifestyle, but the “why” we exercise is more than just keeping pounds off. 

In a recent article in Time Magazine they put exercise to the test and showed that it is linked to less depression, better memory, and quicker learning.  It helps circulation and enables the body to burn more fat for energy.  It keeps our blood flowing and triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that dull pain and lighten mood. These are just a few of the benefits.  There are so many more.   Exercise can also be social and we enjoy seeing friends at the gym or joining them for a Yoga or Pilates class.  We build relationships through exercise.  When we feel better we have a better attitude about our lives. I have often worked out my worries or problems on a long hike outdoors. My parents go for long walks and talk about their worries, their day, the things that might not come out in conversations at other times.  

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So if you were to take exercise and a more healthy diet and combined them, you have the equivalent of the wonder twin powers!  One really doesn’t work well without the other.  

So in the new year, we can alter our diet and exercise.  We will have a better chance at keeping the pounds off and also keeping a healthy mind and body. 

Good Luck!