I went to the company gym today. I had no time to do anything else, but as usual exercise needed to be done. When I packed the gym bag this morning I had to grab the workout gear that was clean and so when I got on the treadmill and started running I realized pretty quickly that I was wearing The Wrong Bra for Running. What to do? I dropped the speed and ramped up the incline. I spent a pretty quick 35 minutes discovering the highest combination of incline and speed I could sustain. I think I got to 7% incline at 3.8 speed (walking). I was definitely working just as hard or harder than running – my face was red, I was sweating and out of breath. Success!
As I was cooling down I was mulling why the changes that make the most difference in losing weight and maintaining it are the ones that people (including me!) are often so unwilling to do. I regularly hear people state that they are totally going to hit the gym hard to lose some weight, and then some several weeks later that they can’t lose weight even though they’ve been working out religiously. Well, it’s true – just working out is likely not going to result in weight loss. It’s the big bad ugly truth about exercise. It feels good, and it feels virtuous, but it’s the smallest part of the equation your body needs to perform. It doesn’t deliver real bang-for-your-buck results in the weight loss realm. You can’t possibly exercise enough to make up for a bad diet.
Working out is for fitness – eating less is for losing weight. But the realization I came to about why that’s so bloody hard is because I can go to the gym and grind it out for an hour a day and get it over with. “There,” I think, “I’ve done something. It took a lot of effort and I didn’t really want to but it’s over now and I can get on with my day!”
Whereas eating better – eating less – that’s 24/7. It’s every minute of every day. It’s never letting up your guard. It’s not taking a piece of the birthday cake someone left in the break room, not grabbing a handful of M&Ms from the bowl on someone’s desk, it’s not stopping at the drive-thru on your way home, it’s taking less than a full plate of lasagne, it’s stopping before you feel full no matter how hungry you felt when you started. It’s not comforting the black hole in your mind with pancakes and mashed potatoes. It’s constant, on-going, every day and that – THAT is hard. Compared to going to the gym for an hour a day? I’d take the one-hour quick fix over the everyday vigilance every time.
If that worked. Which it doesn’t.