Truth about exercise & weight loss

June 14, 2015



Originally published on Jess Being Jess


Every day, I see people working out, sweating, trying their best. They are putting themselves through the paces, doing the do, schlepping to the gym or hitting play on the DVD player… And every day, I hear so many of them say “I just don’t understand why I’m not losing weight.”


I feel their pain. I was one of those people for a really long time. I was running 3 times a week, lifting weights twice a week… and the scale refused to budge.


Sure, I lost a little size. But not as much as I thought I would or should.


You hear lots of excuses… I've used them myself. Some of my favorites are…

  • I have a slow metabolism because I’m a 40+ year old woman

  • I am killing my metabolism by not eating enough

  • My Fitbit or Garmin or RunKeeper app isn't accurate

  • I need to do “extreme” workouts for them to be effective

  • I can't eat bread or steak or bananas or chocolate or…

Here’s the thing… And it’s the one fact no one wants to talk about… Exercise alone doesn't work.


The average marathon running time in the United States is 4 hours 16 minutes for men, and 4 hours 41 minutes for women. That means during the average marathon, a 160 pound woman will burn 3,170 calories. Sure, that sounds like a lot…


But most of us don’t run marathons. Most of us live fairly sedentary lives. We run or workout for an hour a few times a week - maybe. Some typical calories burns for that same 160 pound woman:

  • 1 Hour of High Impact Aerobics: 533 calories

  • 1 Hour of Low Impact Aerobics: 365 calores

  • 1 Hour of Hiking: 438 calories

  • 1 Hour of Moderate Swimming: 423 calories

  • 1 Hour of Moderate running: 606 calories

Results might vary based on body composition, intensity and other individual differences. But generally, an hour workout will burn between 350 and 550 calories.


And it’s easy-peasy to negate that calorie deficit, especially when we want to “reward” ourselves for getting off the couch.

  • Dunkin Donuts glazed donut: 260 calories

  • Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream (1/2 cup): 270 calories

  • 5 Ounce glass of Cabernet Sauvignon: 124 calories

  • Sam Adams Boston lager: 180 calories

  • Cheese pizza slice: 330 calories

To complicate matters, it’s just not as easy as calories in, calories out. Not all calories are created equal. We will explore this more in future posts. But needless to say, 150 calories from chocolate chip cookies aren't as good for your body or your skinny jeans as 150 calories from broccoli.


That’s not to say you shouldn't exercise. Exercise has a ton of health benefits that will impact weight loss. But, truth is, what goes in your mouth matters far more than the exercise routine you choose. Healthy habits start in the kitchen, not in the gym. And you simply can’t out exercise a bad diet.


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