Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Diet Over Exercise?

I read an article in TIME Magazine the other day called "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin," and it really got me thinking. 

Wait a minute, won't make me thin? Exercise won't make me thin? Then why do people, including myself, spend hours and hours at the gym each week, running our butts off? 

Sceptical at first, I continued reading the article to find out more. After all, this article came from TIME magazine, not some no-name magazine known for beauty and weight loss scams. 

And after reading the article word for word, I couldn't agree more with the fact that diet plays a much larger role in weight loss/weight maintenance than exercise in the grand scheme of things. 

I immediately started going through everyone I know, examining their exercise routines. Take my dad, for instance. He runs 5 to 10 miles a day, even more sometimes, and comes back in a full blown sweat, and he isn't losing weight. Now, if my dad, who works out much harder and much more than the average human being isn't even losing weight, how is someone supposed to lose weight by just going to the gym a few times a week? 

It's all diet, strictly DIET. No, I'm not talking about going on a diet, like one of those fad no-carb, no-fat crazy, impossible endeavors. I'm talking about incorporating a healthy diet into your lifestyle. 

I thought about it for a second. If my dad ate like me (a rarely any meat, high protein, high veggie, low sugar, whole grain diet), he'd be dropping pounds by the day! But, he doesn't eat like me. He's a typical man, who loves his steak, beer and ribs!

It's just so crazy to how much diet can do for your weight loss, and how few people know how vital diet is, as they waste their days away on the elliptical for hours.

I mean, think about it: Say you work your butt off running on the treadmill for 30 minutes as hard as you can, and burn maybe 300 calories, 500 even. You come home, starving and say to yourself, "Well, I worked out hard, now I can have just a little more food," or "I worked out today. I can have one of mom's homemade chocolate chip cookies. I deserve it after all." Well, maybe you deserve a treat now and then, but what many don't realize is the fact that just one cookie that most of us can demolish in seconds just added back on those hard worked calories you burned off at the gym, PLUS some. 

It's a shame how exercise-obsessed our culture has become. Don't get me wrong: I exercise every day and still will after reading this article because it makes me feel good, and I know it will tone me up and rev up my metabolism. However, there came a time where I realized if I didn't eat healthy as well (and I mean super healthy) all those hours I put in at the gym weren't going to do squat for me. 

I look back to when I went to Italy two years ago, and didn't work out at all, other than leisurely walking the streets to class and local markets. I ate a healthy Mediterranean diet while abroad (lots of fish, fresh vegetables, olive oil and fruit) with an occasional gelato (well maybe more than an occasional gelato) and came back 5 pounds less than when I went, feeling the best I had felt in years! Why? Because I didn't obsess over exercise, or food for that matter, and I maintained a healthy diet for the most part.

So, in conclusion, we all need to realize that eating right should be #1 in your mind if you're trying to lose weight. Exercise, it's just a healthy bonus on top to keep our hearts healthy, our minds sane and our metabolisms (and moods) up! 

1 comment:

Kiley said...

I use to be SO GUILTY of this. I will run and then think I can 'cheat' and usually end up doing wayyy more damage then what I am able to burn off during a work out! Now I try to use working out as motivation to eat healthy. I will say to myself, I worked out hard, why ruin it eating bad?!