(Did you hear me shouting HOORAY at 6:30 AM, EDT today!?)
I was VERY happy to see 144 on the scale this morning, especially considering I haven’t seen those numbers in that order since I was three months pregnant. I didn’t even care that it had a “.8″ behind it. In fact, I wouldn’t have cared if it said 144.99999!
This week I want to chat a little about fitness and the importance of not over doing it when comes to exercising with weight loss in mind. Exercise can absolutely aid in weight loss efforts, but too much exercise can backfire too.
I really liked this article, For More Weight Loss, Exercise Less, which illustrates how a lot of exercise isn’t necessarily better. It sites an interesting study with three groups of men who were all asked to keep their eating habits the same without any purposeful dietary changes. One group was asked to not exercise at all, the second group was asked to exercise for 30 minutes a day (or until 300 calories were burned) and the third group exercised for an hour a day (or until 600 calories were burned).
By the end of the 13 weeks, the results were both expected and unexpected, the researchers reported. Not surprisingly, the sedentary group saw no changes in their weight. The men in the high-intensity exercise group lost an average of 5 lbs., but while weight loss was expected, the researchers said these men lost about 20% less than they would have anticipated, given how many extra calories they were burning. Even more surprising were the results from the moderate exercise group: these men lost an average of 7 lbs. each, 83% more than what the researchers would have guessed based on calorie expenditure alone.
So the guys who exercised less lost more weight! And the guys who exercised more didn’t lose as much weight as they had expected.
One theory behind these results is that the men who exercised more “were probably compensating for their exercise by eating more food”. I know exactly how this happens, and maybe you do too.
Oooooh I ran 1000 miles today/exercised for 1000 minutes/swam 1000 laps! I’m starrrrrving! I burned so many calories today I can surely eat everything! I can eat anything! Bring me my ice cream sundae in the trough!
This is exactly why some people gain weight during marathon training or why you might not be losing weight despite exercising like a mad man. If you’re trying to lose weight and are not tracking how calories you’re taking in, it’s easy to eat back all those calories you burned during your long work out session, especially if you feel like you “earned it”.
The take home message here is that it you don’t need to exercise a ton in order to lose weight. These days I’m aiming for 30 – 45 minute work outs, 4 to 5 days a week. This works out well for me with a new baby in the house because I do not have an abundance of time for exercise. And on the weeks when even 4 days of exercise is a challenge, I remind myself that your diet plays the biggest role toward being successful at weight loss over the long term anyway.
In short, focus on eating well and just be active when you can, the weight can still come off.
I’ve managed to get two runs in this week (3.5 to 4 miles each), a couple of bike rides, plus one day with this lady:
Ripped in 30 is perfect for the days I can’t get out for a run or bike ride. It’s short enough that I can squeeze it in during one of Kaz’s naps or first thing in the morning on the days I happen to get up before him.
Some days I get a bike ride in by myself, and other days I go with one of the big kids. It’s nice to have some one-on-one time with them, and it’s exercise for both of us.
When I ride with the girls it’s slower going and less intense for sure. Sometimes we have to walk up the hills in the parks we ride through, sometimes we have to find a bathroom, sometimes we stop and point at things.
But these rides are less about burning calories and more about being active together.
For a quick look at some food from the week, this is my typical salad these days. I eat one of these most days of the week.
+ a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar. This saves me from having to spend a boatload of calories on dressing with all that greenery and makes it easier to mix it up and coat all the salad vegetables with dressing.
Once everything is loaded in, I stir it up and make a fine salad mess.
With two hard boiled eggs, one carrot, half a red pepper, broccoli, red leaf lettuce, spinach, 2 Tbsp of hemp seeds and 2 Tbsp of dressing, this whole bowls works out to be about 430 calories. (For the record, I do not count the calories in green, fibrous vegetables.)
You will not hear me say “You know, I’m still a little hungry” after eating that gigantic thing.
(And oh yes, I totally eat that whole gigantic thing.)
You can skip the chocolate chips to save 100 calories, but I’m sorry, I am totally eating chocolate every day.
That snack adds up to 400 calories, which is pretty hefty for a snack. Just as long as you account for those calories within your daily calorie allowance, it doesn’t really matter how many calories a snack is.
We also ate at a pot luck picnic over the weekend and I ate exactly what I wanted, including apple crisp and other desserts too. One meal isn’t going to make or break your weight loss efforts, the same way one meal isn’t going to help you lose all the weight you want to either. It’s what you do over the long term that allows you be successful or not.
Here’s a closer look at Week 2 to see how the numbers stack up. Remember that Net Calories = Calories Eaten – Calories Burned. I’ll also note again that I’m giving myself an additional 400 calories burned each day to account for the extra calories needed for exclusively breastfeeding my 3 month old, on, top of what I might burn through exercise on a given day.
Net Calories: 1222
Exercise: 40 Run
Net Calories: 1318
Exercise: 40 Minute Bike Ride
Net Calories: 1603
Net Calories: 922 (seems very low, but my run + breastfeeding burned 800 calories total… I ate 1722 calories and felt fine!)
Exercise: 40 Minute Run
Net Calories: 1833
Net Calories: 1495
If you’re playing along at home, I hope you’re happy with your results this week too! How much do you exercise? Do you notice that you’re more hungry or more likely to eat more when you’re exercising a lot? Do tell!