Is Exercise Sabotaging Your Weight Loss?

Top 5 Excuses for Not Losing Weight

1. I’ve probably just gained a lot of muscle.
2. Muscle weighs more than fat.
3. I’m just holding more water.
4. I think my scale is just wrong 
5. Honestly, they’re just making clothes smaller these days. 

When was not getting results acceptable? If you joined a gym to lose weight, and even if you’ve firmed up, but you still weigh the same as you did the day you joined – something is wrong.

Rarely, are any of these above excuses the real problem, and the problem is rarely exercise. The problem is almost always diet. Sure, it would be much easier to commit an hour of day sweating off the pounds rather than actually having to control what you eat the other 23 hours a day, but if you want results you have to commit to a good workout and good eating habits.

Eating Healthy is Not Enough
So you tell me how healthy you eat. It doesn’t matter. So you tell me how much protein you’re getting, but you don’t know how many grams. You say you eat very few carbs, but you weren’t including fruits and vegetables. I ask you how many calories you are eating, but you don’t know. Are you seeing a pattern here? You eat “healthy”, but you have no idea just how much healthy food you are actually consuming or where you are getting your calories from. You are guessing your way through this. Who succeeds in anything based on guesses? Very few people.

Exercise is Deceiving

Before I address diet,  let me boldly talk about the one thing I believe sabotages many people’s success: Exercise. Am I saying exercise is bad? Of COURSE NOT! I’m in the working out business! What I’m saying is exercise messes with our body and our head.

Exercise Makes us WANT to Eat More
It’s only natural for our body to want to replace the calories we burn in the gym. When we exercise, our metabolism speeds up and we get hungry. This hunger is a good thing if we know what it means – it means we are burning calories. However, we aren’t supposed to FEED it, we are supposed to USE it.

What do I mean? Now that your metabolism is revved, every time you are hungry celebrate! You’re flying through the calories. Instead of eating to satisfy hunger, eat to fuel your body so it can keep burning calories.

  • Eat low-glycemic foods (limiting or avoiding processed foods, sugar and starches).
  • Eat small meals and snacks (100-150 calories snacks & 300-500 calorie meals) so you don’t replace the stored food (body fat) you’ve been working hard to burn off.
  • Eat 5-6 times a day. Using the calorie guidelines for snacks & foods, you will be eating somewhere between 1200-1800 calories a day. Women, stay on the low end, men can stay on the higher end.
  • Eat .5-.7gms of protein per pound of ideal body weight (150lb person can eat 75gm-105gms) so you don’t lose muscle while you lose fat.

Exercise Makes You Think You DESERVE to Eat More
When you work hard, it’s easy to think you now deserve a reward. Think about money. As soon as we get a raise, a new job, or a bonus – the first thing we think of is NOT saving that money. We think about how we can spend it. We think of the bills we could pay, the clothes we could buy, the vacation we’ve been wanting – all because we “deserve it”.

This is how we treat exercise and food. As soon as we start “working” harder and begin to reap the reward, instead of thinking about all the calories we are saving, and the weight we are losing, we think of ways to “spend” those calories. We talk ourselves into believing we can “afford” a reward. But we haven’t even “got out of debt” yet.

We walk around carrying our “food debt”, storing calories we’ve previously borrowed on our backside, but haven’t paid off. Just like money, we really never have any business spending calories on anything until we remove the debt we already have. Just because we work a little in the gym doesn’t mean we can start spending yet. We have to allow enough time to remove that debt altogether. Just like credit cards, the best way to use them wisely is to spend only what you can pay off over a short period of time. So once you reach your goal, you can reward yourself here and there, without getting yourself in trouble, as long as you are willing to “pay it off”.

“Only eat in one sitting what you can burn in one hour”

Every time you face a plate of food or temptation, instead of thinking about what you want to eat, ask yourself this question: “Do I want to add 800 more calories to my fat stores, or do I want to get rid of 800 calories from my fat stores by not eating it?” 

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About Bonnie Pfiester

Fitness Columnist and Lifestyle Coach, Resident Trainer for Designer Whey, Fitness Advisor for FitStudio, powered by Sears, FitFluential Ambassador and Owner of Max Fitness Club, home of BCx Boot Camp in Vero Beach, Florida.

Posted on February 14, 2012, in Diet & Nutrition Tips, PFOODIE and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. If I’m shooting for 1200 calories/day do I need to make sure I “net” 1200? Should I eat more if I exercise? This has always confused me because I know (or I think I know) if you don’t eat enough your body will go into ‘starvation mode’. If I eat 1200 calories and burn 300 exercising, which is a net of 900, is that too few in a day?

    • That’s not how it works. You are burning way more than 300 calories a day – probably closer to 2,000. That’s the idea – you want to burn more than you eat.

      For instance, I burn 1500 calorie at rest – that’s not including exercise, work, walking around, etc. By the end of the day I probably burn 2500 at least – but i try to eat 1200-1500 when I’m trying to lose weight. Eating 1200 isn’t what puts in starvation mode. Not eating OFTEN enough or healthy enough is what does that. It’s not that you need to eat more, it’s you need to eat less, but more often. Eating often keeps your metabolism revved.

      Dieters who only eat 1200 calories a day – but only eat once or twice a day will get in trouble. Their body shuts down thinking it is starving because it’s not being fed regularly. Do the formula on this page to find out how many calories you burn. Then subtract 1200 from that – that will be your approximate daily deficit. Multiply that by 7 and divide by 3500. that’s how many projected pounds you should love per week.

  2. Thanks Bonnie. That really clears it up!

  3. i track my food every day. i also track my workouts (runs, mostly) on the same app (myfitnesspal).
    I get about 1400 calories a day, ‘more’ if i burn them working out. My PRO intake is around 60-70mg per day (i am 5’8″, weight around 166-170).
    since i am mostly trying to maintain my weight, i do find that if i burn 700 cals, i will allow myself to eat 700 cals more than the 1400 i need to maintain without working out.
    but i make sure that the ‘extra’ calories are nutrient dense calories, and not a bag of doritos or cupcake or loaded potato skins. most of the time. 😉

    • They are both important ftcoars. Although, many diet programs are more focused on calories, exercise is essential to burn calories/fat and to tone your body.References : Personal experience.

  4. Hi Bonnie! Just found you through Brittany 🙂 Great site, and very motivating/informative too!

    I am still confused about weight/muscle and all that jazz though~Because last year about 7-8 months ago, I was at a certain weight and was working out diligently and eating really well! (healthy food, and perfect portions for my size. I’m 5’2″) But then SUDDENLY I gained 8-10 lbs. and it wasn’t THAT noticeable in my body! But it showed on the scale. Now people tell me I look a little “better” or healthier because I have a bit more meat on my bones, but I was wondering why the sudden change happened. Still, it doesn’t show drastically but I believe my weight is the same. I know you’re not a doctor, but I was wondering if this has to do with eating or perhaps something medical? At the time I had somewhat of a health-scare but it cleared up, but I’m guessing that’s not it.

    ps: I believe I’m still eating the same as I used to, and still healthfully most of the time, and maybe even less than 7 months ago b/c of different schedules.

    I’m just curious because it seems like a subject many people get confused about, and I’m certain I’m not the only one. 😛 Sorry for the long comment, didn’t mean to go on and on! Hehe. Have a great day!

  5. Hallelujah! Thank you for telling it like it is Bonnie! Of course, exercise is good for us. But if people overcompensate with their eating, well then … poof – weight gain! If you and Heather Frey/ SmashFit ever team up, you will reshape Florida!

  6. Tremendous, post, AGAIN! Weight and managing debt were addressed in a comparative way. They both affect health and it makes complete sense. In times of rising grocery costs, it’s an extra way to save money. Thanks for your insightfulness.

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