Have you ever wondered if exercise and weight loss go hand in hand, that is, if you exercise you will lose weight and if you do not exercise you will not lose weight? You are about to find that out in this article.
The answer to the above question seems very easy at first. Definitely, you will lose weight when you exercise your body. But you know what? You can also lose weight without exercises.
Ever since I wanted to lose weight, quite a few years ago already, I was always told that I would not be able to lose weight successfully, if I was not doing any kind of exercise. That was a tough one for me because of I am not a fan of exercise. Whenever I have been doing exercise, I drag myself each time to it and am happy when I am done.
Someone once told me that I have just not found the right kind of exercise. And I would agree on that to some degree. But if body weight is determined by the amount of exercise, then I will probably never go down with my weight, because I simply do not like to exercise.
And I am not the only one, for sure. But before I go into more details on what I have experienced, let me put out some interesting facts.
Willpower – Did You Know That It Plays A Role In Losing Weight?
When you try to lose weight, you use a lot of willpower. I have used a lot of it in the past weeks in order to shed the around 27 pounds in less than 3 months. I think that is quite an achievement and I am happy to share it with you. I had wanted to be down at least 35 pounds by now, but I cannot be discouraged by what I have already done.
However, even if I have lost a great amount of weight, there are days, when it just seems impossible to not go for a second plate or to avoid that delicious slice of bread, or even that cheesecake.
Just last week, I went to a Christmas market nearby and people were selling all kinds of stuff, and obviously lots of food. And there was this one lady who had set in her mind that she would “sell” me a small piece of cheesecake, so I would buy either her recipe book or a complete cheesecake. No idea… Anyway, she was determined that she would not let me go without trying it,
But guess what, I had made up my mind before to go to the market that I would not eat one single bite, at any stand. I had just had lunch at home and thought it was not necessary for me to get off the path with the Christmas season approaching.
(And the lady was quite shocked that I would not even try it, but…)
It was not an easy thing to just pass by all those stands with waffles, hot chocolate, doughnuts, and the wonderful smell of Christmas and it was snowing outside. There were so many delicious things and I could have had a few of them, but I had made up my mind that I would not give in this time and I did not.
But you have no idea, how I had to “comfort” myself and keep holding onto the deal that I had made with myself.
Do you see how much willpower it takes for you not to eat all the time and everywhere you go while trying to lose weight?
If you go back a 100 years, you did not have what we have today: As much food as you like, wherever you like, and whenever you want. It is only in recent years, or maybe already decades, that food has become available at any given time and moment.
Take a minute to reflect on where you are offered food on a daily basis.
Here is my list:
- – In my house all the cupboards, refrigerator and freezer are full. And you will find all kinds of food (often fruit) on the countertops, in the pantry, etc.
- – There are at least 5 restaurants of stands in my immediate surrounding (be it at work or home) and I pass by when I leave or come back home.
- – There are a number of convenience stores close to my house as well.
- – When I come into my office, there are always sweets on the table ready for the break.
- – At lunchtime, we all meet and often times food is offered.
- – Wherever I am invited, there will always be something to eat.
- – Go shopping wherever you want – there is always food.
- …and the list goes on.
Experts believe that you are making food-related decisions at least 100 times per day. You read right: 100 times every day. I can only guess that back when my grandparents lived, they were not exposed nearly half the times to food than we are today. And 100 is a really high number and how can you possibly do the right thing every single time you are exposed to food?
So, yes, willpower is definitely needed on your behalf to be able to keep up with your diet. It is really difficult to not “cheat”.
There are some moments when I am just depleted. I have no more “no’s” left. There are moments when I go for a second plate because I cannot withstand eating a little more. There are even moments when I cannot go without a small piece of cake. But believe me, I have been very honest with my diet and I have worked really hard to achieve what I have so far. And honestly, I think it is OK to not stick to your diet 100%, although I would be losing weight a lot faster if I would be that strong every day and every hour.
What to do about it?
This is a very tricky question considering the challenge you face every day to have food in any desired amounts. Nevertheless, there are some very good things to do in order to be able to deal with it.
1) The one thing I have liked and that has had a positive impact on my willpower is meal planning. If you go through the day not knowing what you will eat, you will have a tough time to say NO whenever it’s needed.
Planning your meals ahead is a must. By that I mean you should plan your meals a day before you are actually to go to eat them.
Here is how I manage that. In the evening, after supper, when I am relaxed and full, or just before to go to bed, I sit down and write out what I am to go to eat the next day. I write down for breakfast exactly what I will be eating, plan my snack and even set it aside, lunch, and so on. And I do write exact amounts of what I will be eating.
Here is an example:
1-ounce dry oatmeal
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 large cucumber
10 ounces of fajitas
5 ounces of green salad
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 cup of beans
1/2 onion and 1 jalapeño sauteed in coconut oil and soy sauce.
This is just one example of what you can do, and I like to vary my proteins back and forth from breakfast to supper, and vice versa. I also vary my menu a lot and think of what I want to eat the next day.
Go through your freezer, refrigerator and cupboard and only put things on the menu that you have on hand.
If you are not familiar with this method, you might even think that you cannot tell today what you are to go to be hungry for tomorrow. The interesting thing though is that if you really make up your mind the night before of what you are to go to eat, you will stick to it because you get hungry for what you had planned to eat. Actually, you do not get hungry for what you wrote down, you know that it is what you need to eat. I also noticed that whenever I do that, I do not concentrate so much on my food during the day. Defying willpower – that’s exactly what I like to call it.
I strongly recommend that you try this for 14 days and see how you like it. You can even buy good food journals (here is one of my picks) out there to make things easier for you.
Think of it like this: You probably will not have to do that for a lifetime, but it is easier to do it now if you want to lose weight fast.
2) I like to prepare my food and take it along. This is actually a lot more work and it will need some dedication to fulfilling it. However, losing weight, as I said before, costs you some energy and definitely willpower. And prepping your food is no different. You have to set some time aside to prepare your meals, and if you cannot prepare them, plan ahead where you are to go to eat out and what, if so.
If you take your food along, you avoid the hundreds of temptations out there to eat other things. Above I listed how at my job we usually eat together, sit around the table and often times share our food. I have come to love that time with my colleagues. That is a time for connection, for making new friends and strengthen each other in our daily chores. But be aware, there is plenty of food out there.
So I bring my food along and try to enjoy what I bring. Yet, If you want to lose weight, people hold you accountable for what you are doing, and yes, they make fun of what you bring. However, I have used those moments to compare my super healthy food with theirs, and we have kind of come to tease each other, yet positively support us and it has helped me stay on track.
My colleagues all know that I am trying to lose weight (by the way, they are amazed what I have done in such a short time), but they are kind of counting my calories for me. They have really enjoyed seeing my progress and my dedication to not eat other things.
Last month we had a staff meeting. Of course, there was lots of food that 2 colleagues brought, but I told them before that day that I would not eat if they brought sweets or bread. And they opted to bring some healthy but also some unhealthy stuff. And guess what, I brought my plate with me and just grabbed some veggies they had brought.
Yesterday one of my colleagues decided to bring food along for everybody. She brought delicious soup, which was definitely on my menu and planned ahead. As a surprise, another one brought dessert, but she brought gluten-free, lactose-free, and sugar-free dessert, and a healthy one. She had planned ahead that everybody would be able to eat it and not go off plan. That was a great support and helped me stay focused.
Honestly, I think they are happy to see me make some progress and stick to my diet.
You cannot bring your food along every day, because our daily life is too busy and also we do not always have everything at hand, but you sure can try to do it as often as possible. Think back at what I said about willpower. This is an incredible tool to not have your willpower depleted by the end of the day.
3) Here is the last point of what to do to avoid having your willpower depleted. If you plan on to go to the store to shop for groceries, to a staff meeting, or whatever place you will be exposed to food, consider eating before you go. That will help you greatly to resist food temptation because you will be satisfied when they offer food and will be more confident with your “No, thank you”.
It is a month ago that I went to Costco, and for some reason, I did not have lunch or snack that day, so obviously I was hungry. I bought so many things, that you can only imagine, and I came home and ate. I bought things I should not have bought and ate things I should not have eaten.
Do you get my point? When you expose yourself to temptations like those, you cannot expect your willpower to cooperate. There is just not any of it left.
You know exactly the feeling “I have worked so hard on my diet, I deserve this”. But you soon realize that situations like that are starting points to let go of your diet. And that is the last thing you want to do. If you are on a journey to lose weight successfully, you need to keep on track and not be off just because of a day when you broke your determination.
No worries though, if it has happened to you, please get back on track the next day. It has happened to me as well, but then I remember the long way I have come and decide not to go back to my old habits of overeating.
But What About Exercise?
You might have wondered by now what my article has to do with the title. However, by now you should have seen the power of willpower. If you have no willpower, you will not stick to your diet, and you know the result: Back to overweight.
I personally do not exercise while I am on this journey of losing weight.
The answer is very easy for me. Exercise drains my willpower even more and how am I to go to stick to my diet?
When I was around 17 years old, I decided to lose some weight. Little did I know that your weight is due to around 80% of what you eat and only 20% to you physical activity. So I decided that I would jog 5 days a week for 1/2-1 hour. I did that for around a year. And I lost around 10 pounds.
Why did I lose that little when I should have lost 60 pounds? I used to exercise in the early morning. When I was back from jogging, I was so exhausted, that I would eat a big breakfast. By lunch, I was so hungry again, I told myself over and over: You did such a good job this morning, you deserve another plate.
Did exercise help? Of course. I was physically and mentally fresh. I felt better, energy levels went up, etc. Nevertheless, my weight just did not go down as I had expected that it would and had been told. And I did exercise rigorously for around a year.
After the years I learned more about nutrition and how food played a major role in my weight loss and/or weight gain. But I was told that from back home, in school and everywhere, that exercise was a fundamental part of weight loss. I believed it! How should I have known differently.
Around 5 years ago, I started to do the same thing again. This time I decided to go to the gym every other morning for an hour and that at 6 in the morning. After a few months, we even worked it out that our trainer came to our house to work with our family. I thought I would lose weight like not ever before. I worked hard, but I tell you, I dragged myself to that class every single day. I did not like to do what I was doing. Not even different kind of workouts seemed to get my attention. Never did I fully come to enjoy those hours of workout. I would look at the clock constantly, yet I worked as hard as I could because I had one thing in mind: Lose weight and get fit.
It took me a while to understand that. When you try to lose weight, you have to work on what you eat. And again, you need willpower.
Again, you get all the benefits from doing exercise that it offers, but there is one thing it lacks: It does not give you willpower. It takes it completely away.
Just let me get it straight, if I got you confused. There is of research that shows that if you exercise you do not lose weight because of changes in your body mass: Fat to muscle. No doubts about that! Lived that in my years of exercising. But that is not what I want – I want to shed some weight and then get fit. Ill talk about that in another article.
At this time, I don’t do any kind of workout. I go after my daily chores, which includes quite a bit of walking around, standing, but also lots of sedentary work in front of the computer.
And I have decided not to exercise now, because I want to focus on my weight loss. I am trying to lose weight naturally, by just watching quantities of foods and avoiding some foods. Read about that in another article. I cannot afford to go to the gym, leaving me without energy, then come home and eat my small portions of food without being tempted to pat my shoulder and tell myself how well I have done and how much I deserve to eat more.
It just does not work for me. If to go to the gym is one of your hobbies or you enjoy that, you can benefit from that, but if you are not the exercise type of person, I suggest you first lose excess weight and then do some physical workout for your health.
By the time you have your right body weight, you will definitely have a higher caloric intake. And you should be fine to do exercise and get fit.
Losing Weight Is Hard On Your Body
People that have lost weight know exactly what I am talking about: If you lose 20+ pounds in a short time, your body needs to adjust to such a big change. Research tells us that there is actually a point in your weight loss journey where your body is trying to conserve all the stored fats because it feels threatened because of the change that you are going through.
There are even moments during your weight loss journey when your body demands more sleep and rest than it would have before.
In the last 2 weeks I have been more tired than before that. There are moments when my energy levels are really high because I eat healthy, and I enjoy that. However, the last 2 weeks I have noticed that my body is not so sure what I am doing and is trying to tell me to rest more and relax a bit. Seems contradicting, but it only tells me that my body is not sure about what is happening and is somehow trying to protect itself from potential harm (that is what your body thinks).
An added reason to not exercise while losing weight. I am fully convinced that exercising under these circumstances is not the best thing to do. You will definitely stress out over time and that could lead to a binge (a situation where you just start to over eat and gain weight fast).
I hope this article was informative to you and you learned something new. I would love to hear from you. Can you relate to what I am trying to convey? Do you exercise regularly while on diet? Have you thought about not to go to the gym and just work on your meal plans in order to lose weight?
Please leave a comment or question below and I will be back to you.
P.S. If you learned something new or enjoyed reading my post, please share on social media links below or subscribe to my email list to receive my new articles directly in you mailbox. Thank you so much.