Would you believe me if I told you that exercise could prevent you from losing weight? Wait, what? Well be ready for your mind to be blown because this statement is 100% true! Now before you run out and cancel your gym membership (as if you needed another excuse) I encourage you to read on, then once you have all the “facts” you can then make an informed decision about your own goals and aspirations.
Let’s first start with why exercise can either hurt or stall your weight loss progress.
- Exercise makes you hungry – Remember back when you were a kid, remember how hungry you were after you spent all day swimming with your friends? Do you remember how much you would eat once you finally sat down to the dinner table after a day of constant activity? Well them same is true for working out. Exercise burns energy and the more energy you burn the more you need to replace. Let’s compare our body too a car. If you drive just 15-20 miles a day, you maybe able to go weeks before needing to refill the tank, however, if you are driving across the country, you may need to fill up your tank every 4-6 hours. It is simple, the more energy you use, the more energy you will need, and food in its most simplest form, is just “fuel”. So burning fuel and replacing fuel can very quickly turn into a slippery slope, especially if you are eating the wrong foods…
- You are eating the wrong foods – Despite what you may have heard while watching the Biggest Loser, calories don’t matter. Trust me, it is way more complicated than “calories in – calories out”, because all calories are not created equal. So if you are eating foods that are high in sugar, high in carbs, hyperpalatable or contain very little nutrients, the likely hood of you stalling or even gaining weight is significantly increased no matter how hard you are working out! Always remember calories don’t matter but what does matter is the quality of the food you eat!!!
Second let’s talk about what it means to “lose weight”. To get a better understating about losing weight I suggest you read, “Get off the scale now” before proceeding. Despite the fact that many gyms claim to specialize in “weight loss” you maybe surprised to learn that your weight is not an indicator of your overall health. It gets worse, even being “thin” does not necessarily mean you are healthy, check out this article from Time Magazine from 2011. Hopefully you are not surprised by this…I have said it once and I will say it again, having a fitness or health goal of “losing weight” is the worst goal ever!!! You don’t want to lose weight, you want to lose excess body fat, you don’t want to lose weight, you want to be strong and healthy. So if you are going to a gym that is only concerned with the number on the scale you are selling your health, and even your potential as a human short. There are many reasons why weight alone can’t determine overall health, and one of those reasons is your body type (your genetics).
Oh man, discussing genetics is like discussing religion or politics, you probably shouldn’t do it, because it can become very emotional, very quickly. But here is the truth, genetics can and do play a role not only in your overall health, they also play a role in determining your weight. The best way to think about it is too compare your genetics to a poker game. Your genetics are like the cards that were dealt to you in a poker game. So if you have ever played poker you know that you have very little control over the cards given to you, but if you know how to play the game, you can find ways to maximize the hand that was dealt. Hell if you are good, you can take a sub-par hand and still win the game, it is all about using what you got and knowing how to play the game. I am not going to go into too much more detail about genetics other than discussing the 3 body types.
There are 3 distinct body types and for the most part, you have no control over which type you were “dealt”.. The 3 distinct body types are: Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph.
- Ectomorphs – Are typically skinny and lean, usually taller with long limbs and thin muscles. Ectomorphs find it hard to gain weight with their generally fast metabolism burning up calories.
- Mesomorph – Are naturally athletic in build with larger muscles. Mesomorphs find it relatively easy to gain and lose weight. Although they gain body fat more easily than ectomorphs, they are genetically strong and inherently build muscle quicker than any other body type.
- Endomorphs – Are usually solid and generally bigger but is sometimes labeled “soft.” Endomorphs gain fat very easily but do carry some inherent strength. Endomorphs are often shorter in stature but can have strong and muscular limbs, legs in particular.
I mention these body types not as an “excuse” but to show you that your body weight and even your body size (how big or how small you are) is somewhat limited by your genetics. This means it is 100% possible to be healthy and strong, despite being “big boned”. The opposite is true also, you may be an Ectomorph, which means you are really lean, but internally you could be just as “sick” as an obese person. When it comes to genetics, I encourage you not to use it as an excuse but instead take it upon yourself to learn, this way you are better prepared to play the cards you were dealt.
OK so lets go back to addressing the title of this blog. There are 3-main factors in determining your overall health, they are:
- Diet – This plays the biggest role in determining your overall health (and even weight). You are want you eat, and it is impossible to “out work” a bad diet. Food is literally nature’s medicine, it can cure diseases, it can give you amazing amounts of energy, it can improve your hormone function, and improve your brain power. So when looking to make positive changes in your life you should always first start in the kitchen. But diet alone will only take you so far…
- Exercise – You should never exercise to “lose weight” you should exercise to improve your overall quality of life. You should exercise to improve your strength, to improve your cardiovascular system, to reduce injuries, to look good naked, to reduce stress, and to improve your movement patterns. See diet will make you healthy, exercising will make you strong (both mentally and physically), but when combined together, diet and exercise will turn you into a certified bad-ass.
- Mindset – Attitude is everything, like Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you are right”. You must get your mind right! You will only achieve what your mind believes, so if you believe you are a loser, guess what? You are! If you believe you are not good enough, guess what? You aren’t good enough. The power of the mind is simply amazing and no matter the cards you were dealt, in is in your best interest to learn about the power of positive thinking! So diet and exercise will turn you into a certified bad-ass, but diet, exercise, and a positive mindset will turn you into a real life Superhero! Once you reach this level you will stop surviving and you will start thriving.
And that’s what this life journey is all about, it is about thriving. To survive means you are making “it” but you are making “it” by the skin of your teeth. Surviving at best, means you are average, surviving is getting the minimum score needed to pass the test. But to thrive means you have surpassed average and have moved on to achieving greatness. Thriving is passing the test with flying colors, thriving is exceeding expectations! So always remember that your fitness journey is not about looking like that anorexic model on the cover of People Magazine or looking like that shredded male model on the cover of Men’s Health, it is about being the best version of yourself. It is about being strong and capable for your family, it’s about having self confidence, its about being able to participate in life rather than sit on the sidelines. You are a human, and in case you forgot, it is your right to be strong, to be healthy and to have an abundance of energy. Life is short, and you can either spend time surviving or you can thrive, the choice is yours!
Stay tuned for part 2. I will discuss the best way to eat for performance. The focus will be on carb timing and carb reloading!