Another Lie I Once Believed About Exercise

Photo by Un-Perfekt via Pixabay (CC0)

As a former personal trainer, I had clients come to me to get in shape, increase balance, build muscle bulk, reduce stress, build stronger bones, and lose weight.

I had no trouble creating plans to help them reach their goals. Nothing made me happier than to see a client make advances in strength, flexibility, and stability.

I felt proud of my clients and genuinely delighted that I could help them. Except those who came to me solely to lose weight.

I found it frustrating to set them up on a regular strength training plan that included cardiovascular activity and flexibility work. I watched as week after week they increased the amount of weights they could lift, improved their cardio on the step test, and stretched further and longer. But when they stepped on the scale they weighed the same. Or worse, they weighed more!

With all this exercise, they expected to lose weight. I expected them to lose weight. Herein lies the lie.

I believed that one could eat what they wanted as long as they exercised enough to burn the calories. Unfortunately, a workout could trigger hunger that leads to overeating and one ends up eating back any (or even more) calories than burned.

On top of that, exercise doesn’t actually burn as many calories as many of us would like. A 30-minute strength training session may burn only 112 calories; a 30-minute high impact aerobics session burns only about 260 calories; a 7 min/mile run burns only 549 calories.

You may be thinking “only” burns 112–549 calories? That’s a lot!

Not really. One Big Mac has 540 calories (not to mention the huge amount of sodium). But you may think, “I would never eat a Big Mac. Maybe a Grilled Ranch Snack Wrap if I was in a hurry.” This still has 300 calories…and that’s without the ranch dressing!

So you think, well I don’t eat out. I make my own home-cooked meals. However, it really doesn’t take much to earn calories. 3/4 cup of plain Greek yogourt with a cup of blueberries and 2 boiled eggs is about 350 calories.

My point is not to exercise to lose weight.

But still exercise! Exercise is good to help reduce blood pressure, keep your bones strong, maintain your immune system, boost your energy, improve your breathing, help you to sleep better, boost your memory, improve your mood and lower your anxiety.

Although I no longer work one-on-one with clients, if I did I sure would change my advice if their sole goal was to lose weight.