Why go through hours of exercise to lose weight? Cut back on your portion sizes and you’ll be sure to drop a few pounds.
If you want to be able to eat pizza, ice cream, heaping bowls of pasta and enjoy bread and butter before your meal just exercise harder or longer.
Calories in versus calories out: simple right, and doesn’t It makes sense? Well, I hate to break it to you but it’s not quite that simple. In order to get results, and I mean lasting results, you’ll need to do both.
All too often I hear men and woman complain about losing the same 10 or 20 pounds over and over again. Typically, they’ve been on the same diet each time, because it worked so well the first time. That's the first hint that something is wrong. If the "diet" actually worked, you wouldn't be needing to go on it again.
When asked if they exercised during this diet, the response is usually yes but dig a little deeper and the exercise was either inconsistent, or consisted of jogging on treadmill or going for walks. Honestly, thats not the type of exercise that's going to help you keep that weight off.
There are a couple of problems with dieting without exercise and the same goes for exercising without dieting, .
First and foremost you should be eating properly, not dieting. Diets have a beginning and an end, which means at the end of the diet you return to your previous eating habits only to regain the weight you just lost. Secondly, the weight you lose from dieting alone will consist of not only body fat but your lean tissue; muscle. How much muscle you have on your body has a huge impact on your metabolic rate. The less muscle mass you have, the slower your metabolism. At the end of your “diet”, you now have a higher percent of body fat even though the scale may show that you’ve lost weight. Your metabolism has slowed down and you now have to eat even less than you did before just to maintain your new weight.
Not only are you losing muscle because you are dieting, after the age of about 30, we start losing ½ pound of lean tissue a year. That may sound insignificant to you, but that equates to about 50 calories per day you can no longer burn.
Now let’s look at the other end of the spectrum: exercise without dieting. When you perform any type of resistance training, you are breaking down your muscles so they will rebuild to be stronger than they were before. Our bodies are incredibly adaptable so you need to continually increase the stress in order to keep seeing improvements.
This is important for many reasons including increasing your metabolism. With an increased metabolism you will burn more calories with every activity you do: weight training, biking, walking, sitting and yes even sleeping!
If you’ve been in the weight room lately, you probably already know how hard it is to break down the muscle. Rebuilding takes even more effort. You may not notice the effort, but your body is working hard during your days off from lifting by building your lean tissue. If you don’t feed your body the right nutrients to repair during this rest, you will not see results. Ice cream and pizza don’t have the right nutrients to benefit your muscle. Fill up on plant based proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains and you’ll do wonders for improving your body composition.
You also can't eat whatever you like because you're working out. Have you even heard one of your friends say after eating pizza and ice cream "I'll work it off at the gym". It's pretty hard to work off a bad meal laden with hundreds of calories, saturated fat, sodium, sugar, and who knows what else. Believe me you can't exercise away bad nutrition. Your nutrition must be in alignment with your goals if you're going to be able to build muscle.
Exercise + nutrition = results
When people talk about wanting to “tone up”, what they really mean is, “I want to lose some body fat and increase my muscle.” Remember, if it jiggles, it’s fat; if it’s firm, it’s muscle. To build your muscles you need to lift. To decrease your body fat you need to follow a sound nutrition plan. Exercise without proper nutrition and you’ll have muscles under a layer of fat. Diet without exercise and you’ll weigh less but have a higher percent of body fat. Do both and, you guessed it, get amazing results.
The last piece of the puzzle is consistency. No matter what approach you take, paleo, keto, or a vegan diet, circuit training, straight sets, or tri-sets you absolutely need to be consistent. Eating healthily one day or working out once a week is not going to get you to your goal.
In order to be consistent you need to follow a plan that's sustainable. Most diets out there are not sustainable; they're either too restrictive or unrealistic. There are a lot of great workouts you find online or in magazines, but keep in mind you need to have a progressive plan so that your body will continue to adapt to the new stimulus. This is how you get results.
If you'd like some accountability and answers to your health and fitness questions, come join me in my free Facebook group Weight Loss After 50
Lisa Swanson is an ACE Certified Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Orthopedic Exercise Specialist as well as a certified AASDN and PN level 1 nutritionist. With over 35 years experience helping people turn their lives around, she is on a mission to provide relevant and useful knowledge to help women in midlife reach their goals.
Check out my interview with the Magnificent Midlife podcast on staying fit and healthy long-term.