Exercise Not Required
Hello, my fabulous diva friends!
Well, I made it through the wedding! It was so beautiful! My daughter was gorgeous, her fiancé was handsome and looking quite dapper and you could tell they were so happy and so in love. There were definitely some hiccups throughout the day like a few left boxes of decorations that I thought were extra, but turns out weren’t, and the venue help didn’t do what we were promised, but all in all I’d say it was super successful! I got to be with my family, who by the way were stellar on all accounts with their help. I couldn’t have done it without them! Thank heavens for them! And the only casualty was one of my leather sandals I bought in Hawaii. Apparently when my dog has anxiety and she thinks she’s been abandoned, because we were gone all day, she numbs that anxiety by chewing on leather. So, that was a bummer! But such a great day overall!
When we as a society talk about weightloss, it is usually accompanied by changing the way you eat and an exercise program. You know, the idea: eat less, move more.
If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, I’m sure you have memories of your mom catching the exercise bug and jumping on the Jazzercise train like many of the women of that time. The overall population was all of a sudden seeing an increase in their weight and we thought it was because of the rise in technology and more sedentary lifestyles.
It made sense that if we were sitting more, unlike our ancestors who had to physically work harder to put food on the table, then we would need to get our physical activity in some other way. And so the fitness era was born and anybody who wanted to be healthy lose weight should be exercising. When I was young, Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda had been around for a while and Suzanne Summers with her thigh master was all the rage. And if we really wanted to look the part, we should get some leggings and a headband, with our hair big, poufy and fabulous!
Marketing for fitness was strategic and still is. For decades it’s been drilled into our heads that exercise is the key to losing weight. Spoiler alert! Exercising to lose weight is one of the most successful marketing scams in history. It’s okay if you don’t believe me. Honestly, I understand if you don’t. Even today I find my brain trying to offer me the notion of fixing it by doing a workout after I’ve had a high calorie meal. Gyms are huge, fitness apps are huge, gaming apps have jumped on board too. If losing weight from exercise really worked, why is almost 70% of America overweight?
And I’m not saying exercise is pointless. I’ll touch more on that later, but it’s easy to think that if I eat this snickers bar, then all I need to do is go for a walk, or run, to work it off. I thought that’s how it worked for the longest time! But let me tell you why it doesn’t work that way.
First of all, calories eaten, does not equal calories burned. It’s not as simples as put the calories in our body and burn the calories off. In the book, The Obesity Code, Jason Fung, MD, states, “..obesity is a hormonal, not a caloric, disorder.” Hormones tell our body what to do with the calories and that depends on the “type” of calories we put in it and how our hormones are reacting to them. Insulin is one of those hormones. So depending on how your body reacts by the amount of insulin it produces, or how insulin sensitive you are, will determine if it will store the fat or burn it. What happens when you eat, your pancreas produces insulin. This insulin tells the sugar you’ve eaten to replenish your muscles for maximum energy. Any leftover sugar gets stored as fat so you can have an energy reserve for later in case you run out. This is why in the 80’s when the fat-free diet was trending, we got fatter. The food industry replaced fat with sugar, so food would still taste good and we’d buy their products, and our bodies started producing more insulin, storing more fat and burning “calories” became much more of a challenge.
My brain says, the harder you work out, the more calories you’ll burn! It would seem to make sense, but a Women’s Health Study tracked almost 40,000 women divided into three groups of high, medium, and low intensity exercise over a 10-year period. The high intensity group lost no extra weight compared to the low intensity group and they noted that the lack of weight change was not due to muscle replacing fat. Wait what? How is this possible?
I thought you exercise to build muscle because muscle burns fat. Then I heard a health coach say that you can’t lose and gain at the same time. She was talking about the research that debunked the theory of losing fat and building muscle. That sounded so foreign to me. I mean, I watched the Biggest Loser and all they did was work out. The pounds melted off! Yet, now I question, if they kept their same unhealthy diets and worked out all day, what would they lose?
Then I found an article from the Journal of Obesity published in March of 2019. The article’s titled, “Body Fat Loss Automatically Reduces Lean Mass by Changing the Fat Free Component of Adipose Tissue”. A study was done on different types of exercise and the results were so interesting. They took 3 groups and gave them all the same diet. The first group exercised with low and slow cardio such as stair climbers and walking on the treadmill. Group 2, exercised doing aerobics and resistance training. Group 3 did only resistance training. Groups 1 and 2, lost lean muscle mass tissue along with fat and group 3 was able to gain a scant .3 kg of lean muscle.
This study was showing that when you lose fat, you’re also losing lean skeletal muscle tissue. This is because only 85% of that fat tissue is actually fat. The other 15% is a fat-free component of other tissue, including skeletal tissue.
The only group who barely gained more skeletal muscle tissue, were the ones who did resistance only. Now this study was ground breaking and I know that there is so much more to learn about it, but super interesting to know that it’s not just eat less and move more. So be prepared to lose some skeletal muscle as you lose fat unless you’re only doing resistance training like group 3.
Another reason why exercise can make it harder to lose weight is when we exercise, our body is looking for quick energy after we just used a bunch of it. I can remember running on the treadmill for over an hour and it said I burned 1,000 calories. I remember thinking, “What a great workout! Now I need to refuel.” Forget about the fact that those machine readings are 30%-90% inaccurate, but was it pure fat that I burned? When we exercise, the first energy source the body burns is glycogen. It wants to replenish the glucose it just lost so the brain starts sending hunger signals to the stomach. It’s easier to get hungry when you’ve exercised.
Now, for me, I’m not hungry right after I exercise. In fact, if I’m hungry when I start, then exercising usually tames that hunger. However, an hour later, my hunger comes back in a fierce rage. It’s like my body decided that if I was going to expect it to use the energy it had, it would grab that energy wherever it could, but as soon as it realizes I’m not demanding as much of it anymore, it remembers that food will cure the immediate need for energy and starts sending the hunger signals.
We psychologically think that we have earned the right to eat more, or to eat a little less healthy, because we took the time to work out. We tend to overcompensate for “good behavior” and eat more than we would’ve had we not worked out at all. When I was in college, I had a friend that I’d sometimes run with and then after we finished, she’d go to the freezer and grab the ice-cream. I always thought that was so funny! But I’ve also caught the devil side of my brain trying to tell me that since I’ve worked out, I can afford to eat just one slice of pizza or have a few fries. It’s a real thing, my friends!
A lot of people who are not used to exercising will on average eat more calories than they normally would’ve had they not exercised at all. I’ve heard they eat an average of 300-400 more calories. Which coincidentally is possibly the same amount they just expended working out. I’ve learned that if I want to work out and change my eating habits, I start exercising about 2weeks before I change my eating habits. That allows my body to get used to spending the extra energy before I change it up again.
If you’re wanting to lose weight, exercise is not required. However, it may surprise you that even though I won’t lose weight exercising, I still do it! There are numerous health benefits to working out. I exercise for my cardio health and to increase flexibility and bone mass. And some studies suggest that increased leisurely physical activity during mid-life years was associated with less brain damage later in life. The study specifically suggests that 75 mins/week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity will not only promote brain health but keep the structure of your brain intact. Also, a small amount of resistance training a week, so 15 minutes a day for 3 days a week, will help you increase insulin sensitivity, which helps you burn fat faster. Exercise can help to lower stress, depression, and help you sleep better at night.
With the wedding coming up, I started going to bed later and I had to decide if I was going to sleep an hour later or get up and exercise. I opted for more sleep so my reoccurring mono didn’t come back. But I’m telling you, I’ve missed it. Over the past couple months, I’ve felt less capable in my every day physical activities and have noticed my muscles being sorer after working on the basement and they haven’t bounced back as fast as they did when I was exercising.
Now that the wedding’s over, I’m back into it. I like to do Barre Blend by Beachbody with Elise. Halfway through she’s like, whew! Are you feeling it? Oh, I’m feeling it! And when I get up and sit down and walk around! It’s gonna take a hot minute, but I’m hoping my muscle memory will kick in fast and I’ll regain the strength and flexibility quickly. If not, oh well. It’s the journey I’m willing to take to get back to where I was.
To exercise or not to exercise? That’s definitely the decision for you to make. Ultimately, I think that depends on your reason. If your only reason to exercise is to lose weight, then you might want to consider rethinking it. However, if you’re doing it to increase your physical and emotional health or if it’s just something you love doing, then I say go for it!
Ok, back to finishing the basement! If you have questions, I’m here for you. Go to myinnerlove.com and contact me. I’ll see you again next week! Have a great day!
If you’re looking for a life coach, I’d love to be yours. If you want to lose weight, better your relationships, or need help with crafting your confidence, I’ve got you! go to myinnerlove.com and sign up for a free mini-session today.