The REAL Benefit Of Exercise (It’s Not About Burning Calories)
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about diet. But now let’s turn to another important component of your personal weight-loss system.
Many health and fitness experts suggest that diet accounts for 80% of your weight loss, exercise 20%. Current thinking is always changing, so who knows what they’ll be saying next week or next decade.
The thing that never changes is that weight loss is way more complicated than any simple formula. Some of the richest people in the world with access to all the best information and experts also struggle with weight loss. eg Oprah.
Weight loss is some weird formula of diet and exercise and psychology. It is some sweet spot of carbs and protein and fat.
Right now it’s all about a low-carb diet and interval training workouts.
A while back it was low-fat food and exercising in your optimal fat-burning zone.
Who knows what’s next.
The Other Weight-Loss Benefits Of Exercise
Just as diet is not a simple calories equation, so too exercise is more complicated than just the calories expended in a session.
Sure, there’s the calories you actually burn during exercise. But to be honest, that’s not a huge amount. If I work out really hard in a body combat class I might burn 400-450 calories, based on my age, gender and weight (depending on your age, gender, weight, the type of exercise you do, and other factors, you could burn more or less). Less than a chocolate bar.
Burning those calories a few times a week on thier own would not keep me thin.
So why do I think exercise is so important?
Because of the other, additional weight-loss benefits that exercise brings.
Other factors include the physical and the psychological.
- Afterburn – continued higher metabolism, and therefore higher calorie expenditure, for hours after the exercise session itself is over. Physical. More calories out. Kind of for free. Medium bonus.
- ‘Expensive’ muscles – the higher caloric cost of muscles versus fat, so that you burn more calories day and night simply by having muscle where you had fat. Physical. More calories out. Even while lying on the sofa binge-watching Netflix. Medium bonus.
- Mood – endorphins and a sense of well-being. Just as feeling down can encourage comfort eating and poor choices (boy do we know this is true!), feeling up can help us choose from a place of self-care. Psychological. Massive bonus.
- Body motivation – feeling stronger when you push a door open, fitter when you walk up the stairs, the slight edge of muscle that starts to appear in your arm or thigh – that’s going to give you a sense of progress, mastery, self-esteem, that will make you want more of that good feeling. Psychological. Massive bonus.
So exercise is important in your personal weight loss system.
It brings immediate calorie burn, extended calorie consumption after the session, additional calorie usage to maintain muscles. Some extra numbers, yay.
But more importantly, it affects your motivation and psychology – which are the true challenges in long-term weight loss. It doesn’t make it easy, no way. But it gives you a decided edge. In how you feel in your heart and how you feel in your body.
The Diet-Exercise Trade-Off
In designing your personal weight-loss system, you can be a little lax with diet or with exercise.
But if you want to be thin in a world of chocolate, you can’t be too lax with both.
- YOU CAN’T HAVE EVERYTHING — BUT YOU CAN HAVE WHAT YOU REALLY WANT
You have to decide where you sit in terms of:
- The weight you want to be
- The food you like to eat
- The exercise you’re prepared to do.
I like burgers, pizza, chocolate, cheese, and red wine, but I have a petite frame and want a figure that matches. So I work out more often and harder than someone who maybe goes a little easier on the treats, or is happier being less slim.
In Week 1 we discussed your personal weight-loss system formula.
Your Body = Diet Strategies + Exercise Strategies + Psychology Strategies
We talked about how:
- If you want to lose a little weight, you can succeed with a few diet tweaks and/or a few exercise tweaks, plus you’ll need some psychology strategies in order to maintain your motivation and momentum.
- If you want to lose a lot of weight, or if you’re close to your ideal weight and you want to lose last stubborn layer, then you’ll need to increase the number and/or size of the changes you make.
Now we can add:
The exact nature of the trade-off you can afford to make is something you will need to experiment with, as it will depend on many personal factors such as your genes, size, etc. But remember that each tweak will also have psychological effects. Some changes will add to your motivation, others may be counter-productive. You have to experiment and observe and adjust.
You Can Learn To Love Your Sweat
I know that some people don’t like to sweat.
The secret to loving your sweat is to think of it as calories melting of you.
You don’t have to be Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda, but you can learn to feel great about sweating off those calories.
For me, it’s no-brainer. I’m willing to boost the exercise portion of my personal weight loss system in order to have more freedom with diet.
Case In Point
Ladies at the gym. Tiny droplet of sweat and they demand fans and pull back.
And stay fat.
Case In Point
Alex. No exercise but compromises on other areas.
So it has a part to play. How big a part is up to you. And we’ll turn to that question next.