Should weight loss & exercise be linked?
In short, NO. Surprise to most PTs out there.
Although linking exercise to dieting is often touted as the ultimate weight loss strategy. It sets us up for failure, or feeling like a failure. Deprivation, guilt, restriction and having low self-esteem.
Serial dieters are typically very hard on themselves, having an all or nothing approach to life and especially dieting. When you commit to a gym session or a class 3x per week, and you miss 1 or 2, you may feel guilty. When weight loss, dieting and exercise are combined, that feeling of guilt will very often push you into the cycle of guilt-restrict-binge-guilt-restrict-binge.
Or you think, well F it, I have failed. I’ll eat the cake, drink the wine, get a take away and start again next Monday. That is common dieting mentality. Diet mentality has a sneaky way of sabotaging your success and feelings of self-worth. We have diet culture to blame for that.
One day without exercise, shouldn’t define you.
A day of not eating perfectly, won’t ruin you.
Even a few days…. We all have off days, get bored, need comfort from food (yes it’s okay sometimes!).
Most dieters, start a “diet” alongside a new “exercise” programme. This might seem great at the start of “the new you”. You’re feeling highly motivated and ready to take on the world. But come the winter, rain, sleet, coughs, colds, (covid restrictions), your motivation is likely to dwindle. Our priorities shift, our interest lowers because working-out after dinner, or at 6am in the morning, 3 x per week becomes less attractive. This is totally normal.
The majority of people who join a gym, take on new classes in order to lose weight, but give up after 3 months or less.
Choosing something you truly enjoy, that fills your cup and makes you feel great afterwards is key.You don’t need much motivation to do something you love.
Keeping an open mind about what movement you’re going to do, really helps. This might be an old hobby or passion; you’d like to start up again.
Start from where you are, physically and mentality. If you haven’t done any body movement for years or months, start with a few minutes and slowly increase as you become stronger.
Write a list of activities you enjoy, or think you might enjoy.
Consider the following when choosing your activity list:
Do you get energy from this or will it make you feel depleted?
Are your thoughts clearer after this activity?
Will it lift your mood or will you find it stressful?
Will you be comfortable or anxious, self-conscious?
Will I feel less body aches and pains after doing this, or more?
Will this activity help me to sleep well or will it keep me awake?
Can the activity be socially rewarding or prefer to go it alone?
Notice that the above questions have nothing to do with weight loss, calories, burning??
By focusing on what YOU get out of body movement and how your chosen actions will make YOU feel, will support your mindset by reduce diet thoughts.
Choosing your activity on the day (unless you need to pre-book), will allow you to make choices based on your circumstances, the weather, any dependents you might need to bring along, work commitments and such, is important. Be careful not to put too much pressure on yourself or over-commit your time, which might increase stress levels.
Here are some ideas:
Dancing – from around the kitchen, clubbing or formal dance classes
Swimming – sea swimming, swimming pool, aqua aerobics
Yoga – from 5 mins to 90 mins, Youtube, online classes, in studio, chair yoga while you work, added benefit of mindfulness
Walking – in nature is the most beneficial, but if you can’t manage that, place your hand on a tree or on the grass and breathe. This might start with walking from front door, walk for 5 minutes one direction, turn around and return home. You can increase this over time.
Skating – roller blades, skates, ice-skating – could you do this as a teen? May you still have it…
Cycling – great for those of us with knee pain
Horse–riding – my favourite!! I must practice what I preach & call that riding school 😊
Pilates – from 10 mins to 90 mins, Youtube, online classes, in studio
If you do love the gym, or gym types classes, please let me know if you would like help selecting a weight inclusive gym / personal trainer.
Depending on your level of physical fitness and life stage, I can recommend certain YouTube videos, yoga and pilates instructors. So do get in touch if you want to know who I’d suggest for you.