Sometimes we search for every possible avenue to lose weight before we accept that we have a direct route, changing the way that we eat. It’s common to get active and feel justified in eating a lot because we “worked out”. The truth is, as a general rule there are about 65 calories used per mile of walking for a 120# person and 100 calories used for a 180# person. (1) So, if we take a half mile stroll around the block after eating a dinner that involved all of our calories plus all of our exercise calories then we’re still in the red. I remember when I returned to swimming, I would stop and get frozen yogurt on the way home. Bear in mind that I swam laps for 2 hours. I GAINED weight and it was not muscle. It was frozen yogurt.
According to Strasser and Fuchs of the National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health, (2) a negative energy balance, or calorie deficit, of 500-700 calories per day is required to lose about 13 pounds for women and 17 pounds for men in 12 weeks. It is almost impossible to do this by exercise alone. Note the calorie expenditure for walking listed above. I worked out pretty hard tonight with strength training and various body weight exercises and only burned 347 calories. If I eat a single serving of a decadent dessert, I will not only make that burn null and void, I will have a positive energy balance and gain weight. The combination of proper nutrition and exercise will produce the best results. By slashing the calories a bit and exercising to torch a few more, we can eat enough to be satisfied and still keep a negative balance and lose weight.
The main reasons for failure to lose weight through exercise are low intensity of the exercise and calorie over compensation. (2) It takes a lot of hard work to actually get our bodies into the fat burning range and keep it there long enough to lose weight. We tend to over dramatize the intensity of our workouts in order to justify over eating and the extra calories usually come from sugar which is going to cause a release of insulin and then a lowering of our blood sugar and then hunger, so we not only have those extra calories from the treat but the extra calories from the additional food as well. No wonder we can gain weight when we try to lose through exercise alone.
We have muscles for a reason. Muscles are meant for movement and work, or lifting. Exercise is good for us as long as our doctor approves of our choice of activity. I do want to look good but I exercise for health. Without exercise, my blood pressure will rise, I can’t sleep and I can fall into depression. I don’t take any medications at 62. Exercise keeps my blood pressure in check and tires me out so that I can sleep. The release of dopamine that I get from hard exercise is a natural antidepressant and energizer. I work full time and blog and work out and take care of a single household, three dogs and a family member who needs a little extra assistance. I can’t even imagine retiring…why would I do that if I can have a better income working? Exercise keeps me strong and increases my drive to succeed. I have no intentions of sitting down and letting “nature take it’s course.” I don’t like where it goes.
Eating ENOUGH calories is critical when we’re losing weight. Otherwise, we can lose muscle and if we do, the next time that we gain weight, we will have more body fat than before. If we allow this cycle to repeat, our body composition can deteriorate into a very unhealthy, fatty state. Balance is critical. Don’t try to lose too fast. Eat well, count your calories according to your age, height, weight, gender and activity level.
When we focus on our nutrition, we tend to eat good wholesome foods because we plan ahead. We’re rarely caught in a situation where we don’t know what we’re going to eat or how to get what we need. Everything concerning our health tends to fall into place and we lose the extra weight without misery. If we focus on our nutrition for weight loss, and exercise for health, we will get the most “bang for our buck” by seeking out the best expenditure of our calories and we’ll be able to stay full and satisfied. Mindfulness is key when it comes to nutrition. By combining these two factors mindfully, we can have absolute control over the scale.
Are you ready to stop cowering when you are put on the scale at the doctor’s office? Make the decision to be in control of your nutrition and the scale will become your friend. ;-*