80% Diet - 20% Exercise?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A lot of people say losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise. I used to work out consisently, but never lost weight. Ever since tracking my calories, I've realized how important the diet part is to the overall picture.

That said, I still think exercise is VERY important. Working out lifts my mood and motivates me to be healthier in other aspects of my life. If I didn't exercise, I don't think I'd have much hope keeping my diet under control.

Just to give you an example, here is a picture of what my evenings look like with and without exercise:

After a work out: I have a burst of energy which allows me to go home and accomplish things - mainly cooking a healthy dinner. Even though it sounds counterintuitive, I am actually less hungry after a work out, so I'm less likely to overeat. I have also downed lots of water during my workout so I am well hydrated. I don't usually reach for a beer or a glass of wine after working out either, because it might upset my stomach after exercise. Finally, when the meal is over I have a better chance passing on dessert because I think, "Do I want to reverse the effects of my hard work in the gym?" The next day, I usually have leftovers for lunch which again keeps my diet in check.

Without a Workout: I go home and watch TV for a while before dinner. Sometimes I want a snack and I often reach for junk food. Other times I want a glass of wine, which can turn into two or three. When it's time to cook dinner, I'm feeling lazy and tired (and sometimes tipsy...haha.) Instead of making dinner we get takeout. Although we usually opt for fairly healthy takeout options, it still is never as healthy as our homemade meals. Plus, we end up eating almost twice as much as normal because takeout portion sizes are so inflated. By the time we're done I'm feeling full but still unsatisfied, so I often cave in to the temptation of dessert. By the end of the night, I'm feeling sluggish and exhausted, so I end up going to bed without accomplishing anything! The next day I'm not hungry for breakfast, but I'm ravenous by lunch time! Since I didn't cook, I don't have leftovers and I have to get takeout again.

Okay, these examples are best case scenario and worst case scenario examples, but they are pretty typical for me. I may still have dessert after a workout, and I may not indulge quite that much without one, but you get the picture.

I know this was really long, I hope it shows what a difference a work out can make! Starting my evenings with a workout can have a dramatic effect on the next 24 hours. Because of that, I think the key to losing weight for me is 50% exercise and 50% diet.
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