Many exercise machines, and even some computer programs, give you a tally of the total calories you’re burning during exercise.
Perhaps the designers think this is encouraging. I believe it is misguiding. I don’t trust the calculators to be accurate.
Furthermore, I feel that this practice can be counterproductive. For example, if your treadmill flashes a burn of 500 calories, it’s easy to say to yourself, “Now I can have a piece of cake.” You figure a piece of cake is about 250 calories and that you’re still ahead by 250 calories. Not true. The original calorie burn was almost certainly exaggerated, and the calorie content of your dessert is likely underestimated. The best guide I have found that combines a proper method and diet is Venus Factor. You can read a research of this program at Putnam website.
Trusting these readings becomes even more misguided if you eat more at a meal than you should and justify it by promising yourself that you’ll burn it off the next day. It is very hard to exercise away overindulgence. Exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as you think.
In my opinion, playing the calorie game is no way to live. It’s a game you’re always going to lose. I cannot stress enough that you should exercise for good health, to give yourself more energy, to reduce your stress, and to reduce your risk of disease. It can be very liberating to disconnect exercising from burning calories.
A Culture of Health
Health will become a bigger part of your mindset as you incorporate exercise and physical activity into your life, even if you don’t enjoy it at first. You’ll discover yourself making healthier choices with food, sleeping better, and reducing your stress through exercise. If you smoke, you may even be motivated to quit smoking to make your cardio workouts less difficult. As you adopt this culture of health, you may find that other people around you – children, partners, co-workers, and friends – start to join in. You’ll find yourself seeking out others who share this passion. It’s a mindset that generates community.
A Word About Resistance Training
Although I feel resistance training is important, I recommend, with the proper program, that you initially focus on increasing your daily physical activity and then work to increase (gradually if necessary) your cardio exercise to four times per week for forty five minutes. (Remember, it’s important for you to stretch for ten to fifteen minutes after you finish your cardio exercise to prevent injury.)
Once you’ve embraced this program and have achieved your weight-loss goal, you can start to incorporate some resistance and weight training into your exercise program. I suggest two days a week for fifteen to thirty minutes. My experience with patients is that this order of exercise sequencing works best.
With a commitment to being more active every day and exercising four days a week, you’re on your way to a personal culture of heath.
Now, I want to finish this article with my story of a friend of mine, Debbie.
When Health Becomes Second Nature
Debbie, a seventeen-year-old, was concerned about her weight, as she was going off to university the following year. She weighed 170 pounds (77.5kg). She was doing very little exercise, and was not very mindful about what she was eating. She wanted to lose weight, but didn’t want to go on any fad diets, as so many of her girlfriends had tried them, lost weight, and then gained it all back.
She embraced the weight loss program I recommend you previously, consistently lost 1 to 2 pounds per week, and reached her target weight loss of 28 pounds. She made exercise a part of her life, and focused on being physically active every day. Now, at age twenty-five, she has kept her 28 pounds off, goes to the gym three or four times a week, and follows the Weight Maintenance part of the program religiously. As she puts it:
I got it! It is now just second nature to me to stay focused, eat healthy foods in proper portion sizes, and exercise. It’s that simple. I see my co-workers eating junk food at work. I bring lots of vegetables, have my four fruit portions per day, and eat three healthy meals a day, along with four snacks. I will often go to the gym at 5:00 p.m. and then come back to the office to finish my work.