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Exercise and Diet

Sunday, September 30, 2012

One of the topics that I vacillate over is whether exercise, diet or both are more important for weight loss/maintenance.

We can cite all the studies and research we want, but I maintain a high degree of skepticism due to my personal observations that contradicts most of the accepted standards.

Calorie in - calorie out does not work for me. Either variable - exercise expended or calories consumed - does not result in better weight loss for me in isolation.

I got a lot of exercise when I lived in WA - hiking, biking, and kayaking - but I reached a limit where I lost no more. Adding more exercise was not feasible - I was already exercising 1 hour per day and 4 hours on the weekend. More exercise meant overexercising and fatigue.

I had the most success losing weight with minimal exercise by eating low-carb, but a diminishing return was eventually reached.

As I've mentioned before, my mom worked a manual labor job for more than 20 years and remained thin. After retiring, she put on about 30 lbs in a year. A clear result of less exercise and probably more food. When she's home all the time, there's a tendency to munch even when not hungry.

I remain of the opinion that diet and exercise are both required, and there is an optimal balance. More exercise will not fix a bad diet. In tandem, a good diet will not reap benefit unless there is regular activity.

Exercise also has benefits beyond that of weight loss or maintenance, as I learned with my dad. My dad's lung capacity is reduced because of his extreme inactivity over the decade. My advice if you want to live to your golden years without carrying an oxygen tank: get regular exercise and don't stop, even as you get older.

With this in mind, I'm starting my fall goals tomorrow, which I'll write about later.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I agree. I've learned the hard way a person can't outrun a bad diet with exercise. In order to take the weight off and keep it off, a person has to eat right. If they don't, the weight will creep back on. Exercise, pardon the pun, is the icing on the cake.

    One thing I will say is that eating 6-9 servings of fruit and veggies has definitely helped me keep the weight off.

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    2031 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/1/2012 1:31:56 PM
    I always say: exercise alone keeps your heart healthy. A proper diet keeps your weight healthy.

    I know it's not that simple, but it's a pretty simple conccept to share to people who think that exercise alone will keep them looking svelte and healthy.

    I gained 5 pounds a year while teaching 5 intense fitness classes a week. Proof that exercise alone will not keep a fit person healthy!
    2031 days ago
    I've lost weight on diet alone, but never felt great without both...so I'm of the mind that both are needed for good (or great) health and for feeling good.
    2031 days ago
  • KELPIE57
    2032 days ago
    You got it!
    2032 days ago
    On target as usual...! I think we all need to experiment with whatever the right "balance" of diet and exercise is, but they are both necessary, absolutely!

    2032 days ago
    Very though provoking post. If I am inactive, I find it hard to control my appetite. I tend to eat less when I exercise. I know that doesn't make sense.

    There are extreme levels of physical activity that cannot be maintained over the long haul. A healthy lifestyle is the key to long term fitness and weight control.

    Sometimes people are looking for that quick and easy fix. It just ain't there. BTW - I tried the low carb thing. Low carbs made me sluggish.

    Thanks, Bruce
    2032 days ago
    There has to be a balance in your life for all things. For personal health it's exercise and eating. Not to push religion on anyone, but one thing I remember from teaching HS Sunday school classes is that our bodies are a type of shrine to God (or whatever you believe), and what we put in them (food, drugs, etc) and do to them (exercise, smoking, sloth, etc) says how we respect or feel about that which we believe.
    2032 days ago
    2032 days ago
    I am in complete agreement! Great post!

    2032 days ago
    I am also at a similar point where I'm weighing the importance of both diet and exercise. I do think that it makes a difference what level of intensity the exercise is. I follow Mark Sisson's advice of mostly low-intensity (walking, slow jogging), staring strength training and occasional all-out sprinting.
    2032 days ago
    I'm with you kiddo. For years I believed that exercising long & hard (e.g marathon training) would work wonders. I also believed that working out hard meant I had free license to eat (e.g carbo loading).

    Well I ran my marathons, even dropped a token 10 lbs, put on some more muscle (mostly in my legs), but that was about it.

    In 2010, I stopped running and started cycling. Also added ST into the mix. Still ate what I liked until I joined SP in 2011. The only difference then was that I tried to temper the diet to stay within the recommended calorie limits. Lost some weight, added some muscle, but still had a bit of a belly bulge

    Once I went low carb, I noticed myself getting a lot leaner, all the while I ate more total calories and worked out about the same.

    I just came back from Istanbul, Turkey (blog to follow later today) and let me tell you, I was amazed at the oohs and aahhhs I got from people about how great I looked, how lean I was, etc. I also spent 2 afternoons with a nephew and we did two 20 mile walking tours all around the city. Don't think I could have done that if I wasn't physically fit.

    In the end, I think you need both. The diet helps maintain a good bodyfat ratio, but exercise helps you stay fit, giving you both stamina and strength.

    Nice to see you back!
    2032 days ago
  • MYTURN11
    It takes 2 to tango - Seriously though I agree with 100 percent of what you have posted.
    2032 days ago
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