The Slippery Nature of Exercise in a Weight Management Program

Yesterday I went for a run for the first time in about 2 weeks. The cold really knocked me down and I was taking my time and reveling in the opportunity to just let myself rest and recuperate for as long as felt right, instead of trying to force myself to get up and out there. I mean…it’s not a race to see who gets over their cold fastest. And even if it were, well, I’m not a very competitive person, so I’d probably be happy to let you win that one.

Anyway, while I was running I was mulling on some truths about exercise. The first one is that you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. It’s just too easy to eat vastly more calories than you can ever work off in a day. The second is the corollary – that exercise alone is never going to be a sufficient weight management strategy. The third is that managing food intake alone DOES seem to be sufficient to manage weight. And the fourth is that even though exercise alone is not enough to manage a stable weight after weight loss, all the people I know that HAVE kept off weight for significant lengths of time exercise regularly.

While I was sick I spent two weeks not exercising, and I didn’t gain a pound, in fact I seemed to be trending lower by the end of it. What I’ve discerned over the years is that restricting food intake alone is sufficient to manage my weight for short periods. However, exercise seems to be the elusive glue that holds my mindset and program together long-term. If I’m not exercising regularly for no good reason (as in, I’m not physically unable to, like with my cold), I am unable to maintain motivation to control my weight through food choices. Over time, when I’m not exercising just because I don’t feel like it, I will eventually also give up on monitoring my intake to manage my weight.

It’s a slippery sort of thing. Mathematically you don’t need to exercise to lose or maintain weight. But mentally and emotionally…I can’t do it without regular exercise. And all the people I know that are doing it successfully are in the same boat.

Weight this morning: 184.5


One Response to “The Slippery Nature of Exercise in a Weight Management Program”

  1. marthamkaiser Says:

    I’ve been pondering these exact thoughts lately as I come up on the one year mark of maintaining a 100 pound weight loss. I exercise and run very regularly and I seem to be one of the only ones that has maintained my weight loss from those on the same program. I think all of your points are right on… I am having trouble putting on any muscle mass despite regular strength/weight training. I am finally coming to the conclusion that it might be because I am not getting ENOUGH calories – I’m scared to add more to whatever I have been doing to maintain my weight loss … but I’m tired of spinning my wheels at the gym too.

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