Sunday, January 16, 2011
One of the things I have learned about myself these past few months, as I have struggled to lose these 15 pounds, is that I am inclined to sabotage myself. It isn't a conscious choice...it's more like a little pat on the back for 'doing a good job' that eventually leads to an unintended backslide. It starts off innocent enough...a few extra calories, maybe a handful of Goldfish or Chex Mix, right after a nice workout that I don't "count" because, surely, I deserve it...right?? Often, it can lead to several handfuls of chips (even if they ARE baked they are still 'off-plan') or worse, several DAYS of eating a handful of chips.
I think that I am not alone in this regard...that many, many people think that they can 'get away' with eating whatever they [think they] want because they workout. But in reality, it may go against everything we've been working towards. If you think about it mathematically you can get a better understanding of what you are doing, or not doing, by allowing these extras.
For instance...if I were to run for 30 minutes at 6mph (a 10 min/mile pace) I will likely burn about 400 calories. Now, if I then eat an extra 200 calories "rewarding" myself for working out...or claiming that my body now NEEDS extra calories to recover...my 400 calorie deficit has now been cut to 200 calories. If it takes a 3500 calorie deficit to lose a pound then at this rate it will take over 17 days of working out, IN A ROW, to lose one additional pound. Realistically, I may only run 3 times a week so if I do nothing else, it will take about 6 weeks to lose that pound. I don't know about you, but I would probably get a bit discouraged if that were my true result. Granted, one would most likely be on a calorie restricted diet at the same time, but most diets are geared toward 1-2 pounds lost per week, but again, to have it take 2-6 weeks to see the benefit of adding exercise, the average person can tend to feel ripped-off.
But, if I didn't sabotage myself with those extra calories and simply rearranged my meals to fit with my workouts (ie. saving a serving of greek yogurt to eat 30 minutes after a workout) then I could potentially see that pound drop off within 9 days of working out at that same intensity every day, or in about 3 weeks if working out 3 times a week (burning 400 calories per workout). Now, my simple math does not take into account the additional calories that are expended in the 'after-burn' or any of the other fantastic benefits that come with exercise, so these are crude calculations at best.
My intension here is to help put things into perspective. I am an avid supporter of exercise and rarely take a full day off without doing SOMETHING, even if it's *just* a yoga sequence. Diet and exercise are not magic activities that will give us instant results and bikini bodies. This is hard work that involves consistency and commitment and realistic expectations. So, speaking to myself, I must take the blinders off and face all of my decisions head on lest I become discouraged and start the complaint cycle of "exercise doesn't work", "I can live on air and still not lose weight", "My mom was obese so that is my lot in life too", "the more I work out, the less I lose", or "I'm just big-boned". Beyond just creating the body I want, I am creating the health I want with habits I can maintain for a lifetime, and that will help me stay young both inside and out.