When to Diet and When to Exercise
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About 12 years ago, I was working with a personal trainer named Georgio. He told me in order to lose weight and get fit, I needed a three-pronged approach – diet, cardio, and weight training. Of course, I conveniently tried to put my own spin on that. I figured if I did a lot of weight lifting and I ran a lot, I could pretty much eat anything I wanted and party and drink all night. Well, the weight lifting and running did a little something for me back then, but I didn’t get any skinnier. I actually got fatter,stayed just as drunk, and bailed out on Georgio.
I’ve always remembered Georgio’s message, though, and it was the first thing that came to mind a month ago as I tried to decide what I should do to get in better shape. Based on what I’ve been reading lately, I’m now finding out Georgio’s words may have been a little inaccurate… and my clever spin of the idea 12 years ago was a joke.
The key question is “What will take the weight off my fat ass so I can get closer to becoming the Healthy Heart Guy?” The answer, more than anything else, seems to be DIET. Oh, exercise definitely appears to have value, so I’m not throwing out my Bowflex just yet – then I wouldn’t have anything to hang my clothes on.
But I’ve been reading a lot more stuff lately from the Mayo Clinic, thanks to my dear Dr. Gelfand who put me on the mailing list for their newsletter. The question was posed, “Which is better for weight loss – cutting calories or increasing exercise?” Essentially, the answer is cutting calories through changes in diet. This seems to promote weight loss more effectively than exercise.
You see, the key to losing weight is to burn more calories than you eat. Sounds like simple math. To lose one pound of fat, you need to burn 3500 calories. If you cut 500 calories out of your diet each day, you’ll lose that pound of fat in a week. To lose that same pound of fat through running or power walking, you have to go about 30 miles.
Once you get to your desired weight, well that’s a horse of a different color, and exercise enters into the equation much more prominently. At that point – you’ll be in weight maintenance mode then – consistent exercise is very effective at keeping you slim and trim… even if you indulge a little more into some not so healthy foods. Sounds to me like I’ll have more “wiggle room” when I reach weight maintenance mode… but first I have to get there, and that my friends, is much easier to write about than to actually do.
So again, don’t discount the value of good, regular exercise. It improves your mood, strengthens your cardiovascular system, and reduces your blood pressure. If you’re currently in the same boat as me, however, you need to put your focus mainly on what you’re eating – that’s what is going to bring about the most noticeable changes over the next five to six months.