I came across the article Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin on Time magazine a few weeks back and it resonated with me as I have been trying to loose weight by maintaining a balance between exercise and diet. It may sound simple but has been a difficult choice for me. I have been a gym rat every since high school, right about the time I stopped having access to high school sports. If I had to calculate, I’d probably say that I spent at least quarter of my adult life working out, a time that I could have spent doing something else. I’ve overheard people calling me names at the gym for being so obsessed with exercise. But, nothing mattered because I believed I was safeguarding my future health and fitness.
After so many years, I do feel that has paid off especially when my doctor is astonished at my cholesterol levels and says it’s very low for someone my age and ethnicity! I should also add that I’ve never been successful sticking to any diets most of my life. However, since I hit 30, I’ve started realizing that exercise alone is not sufficient to be in shape. But, things were more in control till I had our baby. Though I did pretty well for most of my pregnancy I ended up gaining quite a lot of weight and is still struggling to loose the last few pounds! My initial visions of a weight-loss plan was spending 3-4 hours at the gym soon after delivering the baby and loose the weight within the first 3 months (the time I had for my maternity leave). Soon I realized how absurd this idea was and that I’d just be happy be able to get some sleep for that amount of time, let alone any exercise or any thought of dieting. Needless to say, I ate a lot during that time and managed to gain more weight. And, oh yes, breastfeeding didn’t help either – on the contrary my body retained the fat to produce milk (thinking I was on starvation), thanks to my famine-struck genes!
Anyway, to cut the story short I managed to lose most of the weight through exercise (just an hour here and there) and DIET. I joined Weight Watchers almost a year back and though I haven’t been following the guidelines properly, it has made me relate to food in terms of calories. Though WW encourages exercising, I was disappointed to learn that the calories lost through an hour or two of exercise is not that great as compared to the calories that one can binge on afterwards! I have even experimented by weighing myself almost everyday (not the right thing to do and something which I would never do before) and comparing that to my activities and food intake for the day. I hate to admit that often I weighed less on the days that I didn’t exercise simply because I felt guilty and eat less! And so, this article struck a chord as it confirmed my new findings (fears!).
However, in spite of all the talk, I believe it is essential to exercise regularly for better health and muscle tone but not necessarily to loose weight, just like the author pointed out in the article:
In short, it’s what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that matters more in losing weight. You should exercise to improve your health, but be warned: fiery spurts of vigorous exercise could lead to weight gain.
That makes my decision easier when I’m torn between spending time with my son and sneaking off to the gym for hours. Probably now, I can strike a balance there!