Tuesday, October 19

Exercise vs. Calories

Hoo boy!  It has been a crazy work week and it is only Tuesday!  It’s looking like my schedule is going to stay this way for a while too.  I’ve been forced to start considering my priorities since my time and energy is an absolute premium right now.
I’ve noticed that when this kind of stress arrives, my tendency is to prioritize exercise over calories.  What I mean is that I’ll catch myself not tracking what I eat or how much, as well as making choices to eat a lot of high-calorie comfort foods, but still prioritizing my exercise classes and time at the gym.  I find that, for me, it’s easy to justify those bad food choices because I’m still prioritizing my gym time.  It’s easier!  I like the gym.
So which is more important?  The answer is that both calories and exercise are important to losing and maintaining your weight, not to mention your overall health.  If you’re looking to change your life for good, you’re going to need to make lifestyle changes to both how you eat and how active you are.  And both eating well and exercising complement each other: having the energy for an intense cardio work out is hard when I’ve been loading up on doughnuts all day, and I always feel so tired no matter how well I’ve eaten when I haven’t been to the gym for a few days.
But we all know that life happens.  And sometimes you just can’t both watch your calories and make time for exercise.  Over the long term, making one a priority over the other could be a big mistake.  The choices I have made in the past to prioritize exercise almost always result in weight gain.  Why?  You’ve heard it before: calories in, calories out.  It doesn’t matter if I’m burning 500 calories at the gym every night—if I’m eating 3000 calories in a day, that’s still 1000 extra calories that is going right to my fat cells.  I’ve learned that (if I have to choose) I need to prioritize watching my calories and tracking my eating.
Have you found the same for yourself?  Are there other ways you’ve found to work within limited time and energy periods of life?


Angie said...

Hi, I recently started following your blog. I live in Kirkland, WA, so it seems we are neighbors.

I lost 150 lbs. in 2008. It took about a year, and I found myself absolutely priorotizing exercise durung difficult/high stress times. Honestly, I was an exercise/endorphin junkie.

Well, I regained most of that weight during/post pregnancy. I have now relost 44 lbs. (thank goodness) and am in a position where I have to think my way out of my urges to eat. I prioritized exercise so much that I damaged my joints and now have to exercise very moderately. It is a whole different world because my brain was always flooded with *feel good* chemicals the first time around.

This is a long winded way of saying that now I *have* to prioritize calories over exercise. I have a toddler, so time constraints and lack of energy are an everyday occurence. :) The biggest issue for me is developing a healthy relationship with food. The exercise is almost a treat, as I try to keep it fun and recreational.

Congrats on all of your success.


Becky said...

Angie, I'm totally picking up what you're putting down!

One of my biggest struggles lately is to not use one bad choice to justify other bad choices. "Oh man, I had a doughnut. Well, I guess today is shot, so I might as well have another." So I can completely identify with your goal of a healthy relationship with food.

Plan, plan and more planning--that's the key for me. If I visualize myself making good choices, and I surround myself with foods that are good choices, I find I will eventually make good choices. :D

Pieholes & Plyos said...

I am right there with you. Why can't working out hard and eating 'hard' be an even exchange? I love them both so much!

You are so right about planning--whether it's specific meals, or just making sure I get enough healthy, instant hands-on food from the grocery store--because the worst part for me is coming home from a workout absolutely ravenous and then systematically eating handfuls of chocolate chips and hunks of cheese while I spend an hour cooking my 'healthy dinner.' Which I'm not even hungry for by the time it's ready!

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