Eat Less or Exercise More?

We've all heard that in order to lose weight and prevent certain diseases we need to eat less and move more. I was thinking about this concept this other day and thought it would make for an interesting post.

You know that it takes a calorie deficit of approximately 3,500 calories to realize a 1-pound weight loss on the scale. You can lose that pound by just cutting calories over the course of a week or 2, or exercising enough that you begin burning more calories than you are eating. When I teach my class, I encourage people to do a combination of both – eat less junky foods and exercise and move their bodies more. I have had some people over the years who did both. I've seen some people who chose not to exercise, but instead just reduce their food intake. And finally, I had a small handful of people who didn't want to cut anything from their diet, but tried to lose weight by just exercising more.

For me, when I weighed 300 pounds, I was easily eating 4,500 to 5,000 calories a day. When I tried to diet using reputable weight loss programs, I didn't exercise. I tried to lose pounds and inches by just cutting back on my calories. And it did work, sort of. I did lose a few pounds here and there, but I never stayed on the food plan long enough to see if I could have lost all my weight just by cutting calories. My guess is that I could have – but it would have been difficult.

I have to admit that I never tried the "exercise more only” plan. Quite frankly, I thought I hated exercise, so the idea of voluntarily moving my body didn't appeal to me in the least. I couldn't imagine that I could eat everything I was inhaling on a daily basis, take a walk, and actually lose weight. I suspect I wouldn't have lost very much if that was the avenue I tried because I probably would have just eaten more because I had exercised. That definitely would have defeated the purpose of exercise solely for weight loss.

When I was successful at losing weight and maintaining my weight loss, it was with a combination of both diet and exercise. I cut my calories approximately in half and began exercising. That's what worked for me. The upside of doing both for me was that I discovered that exercising was fun and valuable for me. Not just for my physical health, but for my mental health as well.

I’d encourage you to think about this concept. Where are you with your weight loss plan? Think about incorporating both sides of the weight loss equation into your life – better eating and more movement.

Added to Weight Loss, Diet, Fitness, Wellness Warrior on Tue 08/31/2010