Does exercise help you lose weight faster?

Fitness, Weight Management
weights and tape measure and food

“Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do. Not a punishment for what you ate.”

Unfortunately I don’t know who first said this, but I know it hits the nail on the head of what our attitude to exercise should be.

Many people see exercise as a way of losing weight. That’s their focus. Does exercise help you lose weight faster? How many calories will this exercise consume?  What type of exercise is best for losing weight? Is working out 30 minutes a day enough to lose weight?

And, as this quote suggests, how much exercise to do I need to do because I’ve eaten a doughnut, a tub of ice cream, a bar of chocolate?

If I go for a bike ride, can I stop and have a cake and coffee in the middle?

The questions are endless, but they all focus on the idea that exercise is about losing weight.

Sadly many people frame exercise only in terms of weight loss. Many PTs do – they advertise a 12-week challenge or even a 12-week transformation challenge. Or a drop a dress-size exercise programme. There are many takers for these programmes. People like the idea that if they workut hard for twelve weeks they can solve their weight loss problems. The websites offering these programmes are full of amazing before and after photos. Often the change is remarkable. But rarely do they say what happens later. Does the successful participant keep the weight off? Do they stay toned and happy?

Ubershape of Australia say:

“the stats show that 95% of people that lose weight, eventually regain it. If you are in the 10% and you know if you are, start on a challenge, get the results you are after and are capable of maintaining. However, for the other 90% which is most people, the best way is the ‘Habit base approach’.

“The Habit base approach is by far my favourite as a trainer with 12 years experience. When a client starts with this approach, it is always a win. They know their boundaries and are creating a new lifestyle”

This suggests that even if you exercise to lose weight you are unlikely to do well, unless you focus on changing your habits and changing your lifestyle.

How can I change my attitude to exercise?

Exercise is hugely beneficial even if you are at your ideal weight. It is not something you ONLY do to help you lose weight. As the quote I started with says:

Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do.

If you haven’t exercised much, you may want to argue that exercise shows how weak, unhealthy and unfit you are. That is almost certainly true, yet that is an advantage. When you start exercising, you will rapidly improve if you’re starting from a very low point. You will find you are making progress.

Rejoice in that. Don’t just leap on the scales and judge your workout on how much weight your losing. (In fact to begin with you may put on weight, as muscle weighs more than fat.)

Focus on how much faster or further you can run than you did last week or last month. Couch to 5k apps are great for this.

Appreciate how you don’t get out of breath at all/so much when you walk up hill/upstairs.

Give yourself a pat on the back for the heavier weights you are lifting at the gym.

Celebrate day by day that you are becoming more flexible.

Notice how easy it is to lift shopping out of the car or pick up your child. Feel pleased at how you are less likely to fall. If you stumble, notice how much faster you can right yourself again.

Check if your mental health is better now your taking regular exercise. It probably is. Have your anxiety levels dropped? Are you just feeling generally happier? These are all well-documented side-effects of exercising regularly.

A friend told me that now she had started exercising regularly she didn’t want to eat rubbish anymore. She was actually choosing to eat better, because that’s what she wanted to do. Are you finding that your eating better now you are exercising regularly.

If you hate exercise, you may be lacking in motivation. I hope what I’ve written here may convince you. If not, read my blog about exercising even when you hate it.

All these benefits and more could be yours if you exercise regularly. And yes you are likely to lose weight as well. The people who don’t lose weight through exercising are either fooling themselves about how hard they are working, or rewarding themselves with food because they’ve exercised. Remember that exercise itself has so many rewards, you don’t need cake as well! Also remember that many people over-estimate how many calories they actually burn when they exercise.

But don’t make weight loss the sole focus of your workouts. Enjoy all the other benefits that you will experience. And remember: Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do.