For so long, you’ve likely blamed your problems with food and weight on exercise and working out. We’ve been told again and again, by the media, food corporations, weight loss programs, even the government– that more exercise is the solution to our body and weight issues.
However, that common belief is far from the truth: what we eat has a far greater effect on our weight than physical activity. The research shows that while exercise can be a tool for weight maintenance when paired with healthy eating, any weight loss from exercise alone is far less than we predict. It’s not as simple as calories in, calories out. When you make a change to your activity level, your body may take measures to preserve energy. For example, your brain may send you the signal to eat more or you may compensate by slowing down and resting at times you’d typically be active. Your body is great at survival and will adjust accordingly!
Not only is an exercise-only approach mostly an ineffective strategy for weight loss, but it can also become obsessive and even dangerous when taken to extremes. If you find yourself using exercise as a tool to make up for big binges, this is a big red flag. This is called bulimia– and it may get worse if you don’t take proactive action to get help.
Instead of overdoing it, direct your focus towards more moderate forms of exercise that don’t burn you out and leave you feeling depleted. Exercise, when used to nourish your body rather than punish it, can have numerous benefits- it reduces the risk of many diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia, Type II Diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. It also increases dopamine and serotonin, the “feel-good” chemicals in our brain. When done in a loving way, exercise has a lot to offer!
So even though exercise isn’t the magic bullet to lose weight doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be an important aspect of a loving and caring relationship with yourself. If you’re having trouble distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy exercise, try asking yourself the question “How do I feel when I work out?” and “What’s the end goal of working out?” You can start to notice patterns about what’s working and what’s really just causing you to feel tired and burnt out. Movement that empowers you and helps you to feel good in your body is the type of exercise for you.
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