Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Exercise Not Helpful for Losing Weight?

Nothing gets me fired up faster than mass distribution of misinformation on an important topic. There's quite an uproar right now over the recent Time magazine article that claims that exercise is not an effective tool for health, particularly in weight loss. So many people are writing and talking about it that I almost didn't include anything about it here. But I can't let it pass because I have personal experience with this and if my blog is dedicated to helping people in their journey to health and fitness through exercise and balanced nutrition I would be doing you a disservice to let this one slide.

Let's just step back and think about that for a minute. It is true that weight can be lost without exercise; I've talked about it before in this blog. I'm living proof of that, because I've done it before. Years ago I altered my eating such that the scales went down, I lost weight, and I didn't even do a leg raise in the process. It can be done. What was the result? I was ugly-skinny, still flabby and predominantly fat, I was sick several times, didn't have a lot of energy, wasn't strong, and had friends telling me to please eat something. I was down to one meal a day and hit a plateau before I reached my ultimate "number on the scale" weight. Once I started eating more food because I was hungry and deprived, I gained some weight back. Then felt like a failure. When I tried it again my body simply said NO.

Let me also clarify that I did not have an eating disorder. I simply was trying to get to a size I wanted to wear and the number on the scales to a number I thought was right for me, like so many other people I know. And to be honest for my height and bone structure the numbers were not outrageous. I'd been there before in my late teens early twenties.

I now have hypothyroidism, which I really don't dwell on, although I can tell you that I have to work harder and smarter than some folks I know to achieve similar results. I can't help but wonder if those days of slowing my metabolism down to a crawl through inadequate food intake and lack of exercise didn't jumpstart the problem.

Okay, back to the exercise component. Who actually thinks that exercise doesn't help? I'd like to hear from you. There are so many benefits that exercise provides for health and weight loss that I can't even list them all here. So I want to point out a couple of things, then I'm going to point you to an article that addresses it well.

First, you cannot out-exercise a crappy diet.

If you're ready to hang up your exercise hat because you're not seeing results, you need to evaluate your eating habits. Whether or not various types of exercise increase or decrease your appetite you have to be giving your body clean fuel in appropriate amounts. If you're working hard at the gym and canceling it out with a burger and fries on the way home, exercise is not the problem.

Second, trying to cut your calories low enough to enable you to sit around and not exercise totally backfires.

Let's say you cut back your calories from what you're currently eating now without changing your exercise level. Chances are your scale weight will drop. But once things even out again (now you're eating enough calories to maintain your new weight), you need to drop your food intake even more, if your goal is to still lose weight while sitting on the couch. Next thing you know, you're down to a tiny amount of food and you can't possibly cut the calories any more. Now you're skinny fat and you still don't feel like getting up off the couch because you have no fuel, no muscle and not enough energy.

If I continue I'll just go into a rambling rant, so I'd like for you to read a well written rebuttal to the Time Magazine article by Tom Venuto. Tom is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, nutritionist, personal trainer, and author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle and The Body Fat Solution. You can read his response by clicking here.

Please understand that healthy living is challenging in today's world but it doesn't have to be complicated. Deliberate exercise and daily activity goes hand in hand with healthy eating, adequate sleep, stress reduction and illness prevention. If you are overwhelmed at the thought and you don't know where to start, let me know and I'd be happy to help point you in the right direction. getfitwithkelley@gmail.com

I have one of Tom Venuto's books in my Amazon Store. Please see my disclosure statement.


MikeG said...

Great post! I think this Time article has set the fitness blogs on fire! 1 point to add to your losing weight while sitting on the couch: Even if you are losing weight while not exercising, you are most likely losing muscle mass and not as much fat! If you don't work out to maintain your muscle, you will lose it in a cal deficit. My rebuttle to the Time article is here: http://bit.ly/i2Xqy

Kelley Moore said...

Thanks so much Mike! Glad you liked the post and left a comment. You are so right that the loss is going to be muscle mass and not really fat - so on top of it all you end up keeping the fat! We sure don't want to do that. Heading to your post now, thanks for the link!

Greenteagirl said...

I could barely read the whole Time Mag article. It was ridiculous. My opinion is the combination of synthetic chemicals/GMO foods AND fitness mis-information has led to increasing obesity rates not more people exercising.

I was running and lifting weights and couldn't lose any weight for a long time until I found out that I'm wheat gluten intolerant. Like magic 20 pounds lost in 2 months. It may or may not be a coincidence that a major genetically modified crop is wheat.

Thanks for the post Kelley!

Kelley Moore said...

I know, it made me mad to read it. What were they thinking? Talk about digging for a topic. I agree with your opinion! Very interesting about your wheat gluten intolerance. How did you narrow that down?

Smoketheblowfish said...

Kelley I thought I had commented on this post last week...guess not. So much crap being passed along as fact that it's easy to become confused...unless you are informed or use common sense.

Too bad the editors of Time specialize in diction and grammar vs math.

Muscle burns fat

Fat mass greater than muscle mass

Muscle is denser than fat which means that less fat and greater muscle mass equates to a leaner individual even though the scale may not agree

Society is so hooked on weight that it cannot see that mass is what should be observed and dealt with.

Kelley I could go on and on with this POS article in Time, but you did more than enough justice to this topic.



ps. thanks for the kind thoughts about Hootie and my wife

Kelley Moore said...

MikeZ, I knew that article would get you fired up! Completely amazing. I cant' believe it sometimes when articles like that come out and then it feels like we really take a step back in trying to help people understand the benefits of exercise and motivate them!
p.s. you are very welcome!