Have you heard the phrase “you can’t out-exercise a crap diet”?? This is something I hear a lot, and I do agree with those words to a certain point...
Most likely*, if you are over the age of 10, you cannot eat whatever you want, whenever you want without restraint and expect to meet your health and fitness goals through exercise alone.
*There are always exceptions, right?
Most people underestimate the amount of calories they consume and overestimate the amount of calories they burn through exercise. This is one reason why it can be easier to achieve results through dietary restriction than through an increase in exercise duration, intensity, or frequency.
But dietary restriction is no fun. It can slowly suck the joy out of your life and it can be very difficult to maintain.
What’s a determined chick with goals to do?
A solid and consistent commitment to regular, ideally daily, workouts can give you a whole lot of flexibility in regards to your diet. It can make achieving and maintaining the body you want a whole lot easier than through dietary manipulation alone.
Another thing to consider…it’s not just formal exercise that counts. Any movement—grocery shopping, vacuuming, pacing, fidgeting—goes into that metabolic savings account.
So, how much movement is enough?
Totally depends. It depends on your goals, your diet, your job (is it sedentary?), and a host of other factors. You will have to experiment a bit to determine how much exercise and movement you need to give you more flexibility in your diet.
Our bodies are meant to move! We live in a culture that does a pretty good job of ignoring that. So I hear you when you say “but I don’t have the time to get exercise in everyday.”
You might have to get creative…
Can you spend 5 minutes in the morning doing squats and push-ups to get your heart rate up? Can you take 20 minutes out of your lunch hour to go for a walk? Can you stop at Target to do your shopping rather than order on Amazon? That’s 45 minutes right there!
Now 45 minutes of light activity is not going to give you as much leeway in your diet as an intense CrossFit session or a 5-mile run. You need to keep your expectations in check. BUT the take-away is that the difference between doing *something* active everyday vs. doing *nothing* active is huge.
My philosophy is move as much as you can so that you can be a bit more relaxed about food intake…this may or may not resonate with you (or even be possible for you), but it’s definitely something to consider especially if you restricting makes you a little bit crazy.