At the Anytime Fitness club where I play the double role of manager and personal trainer extraordinaire, people frequently come to me to inquire about why their new exercise regimen hasn’t led to significant weight loss. Often these clients are slightly older (beyond 40), and have had experience with and even success losing weight in the past. When they were younger, they tell me, all they had to do was start running or working out a bit, and mayyyybe cut back the portions a tad (if at all) on their normal diet. They always expect (or hope) to find that if they simply make it to the gym regularly again, they can hold on to all of their poor eating habits.
Believe me, I wish it were true!
I wish that jogging for 30 minutes a couple of times a week could magically undo every piece of bread, pizza, fast food and alcohol that I could consume throughout the day.
I would prefer to bust my ass in the gym 5 or 6 or even 7 days a week just to get to eat a diet filled with sweets and treats and unlimited portions if I could still see the results I want…But unfortunately that’s not the case for me, my clients and most people struggling with fat loss. Personally, I can train hard regularly (because I love it) and still gain body fat because of my diet. (It’s not comfortable or fun, and I don’t recommend it!)
I sometimes can’t help but feel a little frustrated with the individuals who insist that weight loss should happen easily for them, without making a single change to their eating habits. But in reality, it’s MY JOB to inform them that exercise alone will only get them so far. People wanting to SEE change without having to MAKE change which is one issue, but sometimes it’s simply a lack of knowledge holding them back.
To give you a better understanding of how hard it is to burn off what you eat, check out this awesome video that I first discovered years ago that has really stuck with me:
(For the quick version, check out the video at about 1:40 and 2:45, and you’ll see how many calories one man eating pizza and drinking soda is consuming vs. how many calories the other man sprinting on the treadmill is burning in the same amount of time.)
That being said, unless you are in the gym for hours and hours most days of the week (training for an intense sport, for example), you will really struggle with your fat loss goals if you don’t address the eating issues that led to your weight gain in the first place.
So, to my Emotional Eaters out there:
If you think you can ignore your patterns of emotional eating and just “work off” your binges and mindless eating with exercise, you’re WRONG.
Another great way to think about this concept comes from Gillian Riley’s book Eating Less: Say Goodbye to Overeating. When people talk about wanting to lose weight, she explains, they are simply complaining about the symptom of a bigger problem. The problem is not your weight itself; your problem is that you eat too many calories for your body and lifestyle. Addressing the symptom without the cause will only provide a short term solution (i.e., losing and regaining the same 10 lbs over and over again). She compares this to a lifelong smoker who wants to figure out the best way to “stop coughing all of the time.”
This is such an awesome comparison!! The problem here is obviously not the coughing, right? It’s the fact that the smoker keeps smoking, of course! Duh!
Focusing on weight loss (and fat loss) is the exact same misinterpretation. The pounds of fat on your body themselves are not the issue to be resolved, but the habits and actions that put the pounds on in the first place are.
If you truly want to feel, look, and perform better in your life, you MUST address the root cause of the issue:
You ate too much.
Why? Why did you eat so much? Because you were stressed?
Okay, let’s figure out the source of stress and if we can change it. If we can’t change it, then let’s figure out how else you might be able to deal with stress instead of using food to cope.
Did you even notice how much you were consuming on a regular basis?
Okay, let’s start there and use a journal to see the truth of what of your diet really is. Because your body is indicating that it’s too much food for what your current body needs.
Do you see the difference between THIS process, and the one above? THIS is where real, long term fat loss happens.
But that’s enough tough love for one week. Mull these ideas over, and start thinking about your diet and exercise habits in a new way. Stay tuned for next week when I’ll share why you still need to exercise, and how to do it in order to COMPLEMENT and ACCELERATE your efforts to change your eating habits and relationship with food.
If you are itching to take action and start addressing the real issues TODAY, check out my brand new guide to getting started on your Emotional Eating Solution by requesting my FREE EES Handbook over on the right side of the page!
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences below or over on the EES Facebook page.
Always here to help,