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Friday, August 28, 2009

A Lot of Angry Trainers

I'm not sure where I first saw the Time article titled, "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin," but I definitely know that a lot of people got very upset about it. I personally follow the blogs and/or Facebook pages of several personal trainers. Two of them, Josh Hillis and Sean O'Malley, wrote long articles about why Time was wrong, wrong, wrong. I ignored the article at first, but after reading what Josh and Sean had to say, I thought I would chime in.

The article's main points are the following:
  1. The only reason to exercise is to lose weight
  2. Exercise is hard
  3. The author hates the gym
  4. Exercise makes the author hungry
  5. The author eats to fulfill that hunger - and what he chooses is fast food.
  6. The author does not lose weight
  7. There are some studies out there that make it sound as if the author's anger at exercise is justified
  8. The author writes for Time magazine.
I was actually taking this in stride some, because frankly I didn't feel like getting all worked up about it, but actually, I do think it was a pretty irresponsible piece for Time to publish.
First of all, there are many, many reasons to exercise, and frankly I think we should just drop the whole "I need to lose weight" thing. If you want to work out, fine. If you want to eat better fine. Focus on those things, and the weight results will come, I promise. You will feel better and you will be healthy.

The article says, "One of the most widely accepted, commonly repeated assumptions in our culture is that if you exercise, you will lose weight." Really? Because I haven't ever accepted that. There's no rule out there being touted by doctors or personal trainers saying this. The rule is, "Eat less calories than you burn, and you will lose weight." That means that if you exercise, you can eat more and still lose weight. Period.

The author discusses going to the gym and then having, "the lip-licking anticipation of perfectly salted, golden-brown French fries..." Dude, it's called self control. Get some.

I mean, YEAH, you will be hungry after you work out for an hour. No kidding. This isn't some big mystery. The key is that you don't go to McDonald's and eat a meal, you eat something healthier. And I'm not talking salad here. How about some grilled chicken, black beans, avocado and some veggies? It's a delicious meal, and probably you could have fit it into your diet with our without exercise, so have a small dish of ice cream, too.

America doesn't need another reason to not exercise, trust me. The problem with people who think like this, though, is that people assume that you burn a whole lot more calories than you do when you work out. They also assume that food has a lot less calories in it than it actually does.

Take this meal, for example:

  • Chickfila Chicken Sandwich
  • Medium (note: not value sized) Waffle Fries
  • Large Diet Coke
  • Vanilla Milkshake (small, not even a large here)
And let's say that's your treat after you ran. How far would you have to run to burn that off? 3 miles? 5 miles? NO. You'd have to run 13 miles to run that meal off. You'd have to run 2 more miles if you wanted to get a large fry and a large milkshake. Switch that over to a large regular Coke and you'll have to run 2 more miles on top of that. And guess what? There isn't much stuff in that meal that is going to stick with you - just a lot of sodium and fat - so if you eat that meal, then you are going to be hungry again sooner than you would if you had made better choices. So, yeah, eating fast food after a workout (or frankly anytime) isn't a great idea.

You see, exercise, even marathon training, doesn't give you free reign to just eat what you want. It doesn't work that way. Weight loss is about what you EAT not what you BURN. Plus, I've found that when you start thinking in terms of minutes of exercise vs. calories, it's a losing proposition anyway.

Exercise makes me feel better, and eating better makes my exercise feel better. So, just eat better. Workout to feel better, not to lose weight. Find something you like and do it and you won't feel like you're wasting your time. Trust me on this.

More Information: - Read some more in-depth analysis of the article here!!:

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