Should you diet or should you exercise?
Moving is fun – for some people
Believe it or not, moving is fun – for some people. Case in point: me. I love physical activities, whether that means getting my derriere off my chair every half-hour or so to stretch my legs or playing Ultimate Frisbee with pals. I also get that not everyone feels the same way. This is why it’s hard for someone who isn’t into exercising to actually stick to a regular exercise routine. If a person wants to lose ‘em pounds and be fit, though, should he/she concentrate on dieting or on exercising? Is dieting more important than exercising?
Diet or exercise?
Let me just say one thing about dieting: I hate the word. I hate the connotation of starving yourself to get skinny. It doesn’t make sense to feel miserable just to look hot. Merely counting calories and not thinking about the nutrients needed by your body is impractical and not really sustainable.
What you should be aiming for is a lifestyle of healthy choices that are practical, non-restrictive, and tailored for your needs. Exercising is definitely important, but studies have shown time and again that you can’t outrun your fork. You can’t, say, run 1 kilometer and expect it to compensate for the dozen donuts you have after. Okay, so that’s both a simplification and an exaggeration (haha!), but you get the point. If you keep eating more than you burn, then you’ll always have a excess of calories. Needless to say, these calories will manifest as muffin tops and flab abs. Fitness is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. If you want to get anywhere, fitness-wise, start with your plate. Proper nutrition is key.
Small changes equals big results
“Eat right.” “Eat healthy.” “Practice proper nutrition.” They all sound boring, right? The thing is though, if you’re perpetually obsessed about your weight and perpetually unhappy about your ten extra pounds, then it might be worth your while to consistently work on small and realistic changes that can help you look better and feel better about your weight.
Personally speaking, when it comes to healthy eating, I’m not 100% there yet. Some days are better than others. Sometimes, I’d be eating healthy for three straight days and then have a lapse of judgement the fourth day. What has helped me forge on and continue is self-forgiveness. Seriously. Some people get too hung up on their mistakes that they end up reverting back to not caring about what they eat. Accept that you made a mistake and shrug it off. You’ll do better tomorrow.
Here are some other tips that I find helpful:
1. Cut back. Instead of eating 3 donuts like you usually do for a mid-afternoon snack, why not scale it down to 2 1/2 first before bringing it down further to 2 after several days? Actually, donuts aren’t the healthiest fare, but we’re talking baby steps. Everyone starts somewhere. Don’t deprive yourself but try to mind your portions.
2. Don’t stock junk food at home. It’s easier to resist a craving for junk food if you need to dress up and run out just to satisfy it.
3. Drink more water. It helps a person’s weight-loss efforts because staying hydrated helps you avoid overeating. Drink water first to check if you’re really hungry and not just thirsty.
4. Do you like any vegetables? How about fruits? Remember to include them in your grocery list the next time you go out shopping. Needless to say, they’re both nutritious and yummy. Don’t know which fruits and vegetables to choose? A good bet would be to go for the ones in season. They’re fresher and cheaper!
Nutrition, then exercise
Just to be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t move, ever. You should. Ideally speaking, you should be eating right and working out. If that sounds too daunting for you, however, you can start by watching what you eat. Maybe you’ll find the tips I shared above useful too.
How do you manage to keep healthy and fit? What are your main challenges?
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This post is inspired by Nerd Fitness’s Why Exercise is the Least Important Part of the Equation.
Hydration information from Women’s Health.
Image from Balanced Brunette.
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