December 09, 2013
The banner read “Workout Before You Pig Out.” Not too long after walking past it, I spoke to someone who told me that she “works out so she can eat whatever she wants.”
At this time of year, it is hard to avoid sweets, alcohol, and other indulgences. And too often, even trainers buy into the mistaken view point that you need to “workout before you pig out.” And this mindset of using exercise as nothing more than a means of undoing poor food choices has two major problems:
- It creates a feeling of exercise as punishment or obligation rather than something to enjoy.
- Excessive intake of food cannot be undone by even the most robust workout.
If I hated exercise, I wouldn’t do it. So if you hate exercise, and you do it, you’re nuts (by my standards). Why would you continually do something you don’t enjoy? Sure, it needs to create a certain level of discomfort to be beneficial. However, if you hate it, hate the thought of it, and dread doing it, every single workout takes a massive load of willpower.
If this is how and why you exercise, you’ll burn up all your willpower making yourself exercise and then you’re fresh out of willpower when you really need it -- at that holiday party coming up this weekend and when your family comes to visit the next day hands full of dessert!
If you begin to look for something positive during the exercise experience, you will begin to enjoy it more – or at least loathe it less. And if possible, try doing something active with someone in your life. When you get moving with people, it amplifies the positive emotional benefits of the experience.
Physically, we cannot use exercise to “work off” poof food choices. The reason is that bad foods affect your body’s ability to respond to exercise the way you want it to.
For example, you just ate a bunch of holiday cookies at the office that you weren’t planning on eating. The high dose of sugars creates a physical response that makes your cells less reactive since they are coated in sticky sugar which throws off your hormonal system as your body tries to handle the overload.
Your body is essentially in a biological crisis even though you might not feel it. And when your body is in crisis, it isn’t worried about making sure you look good from your exercise efforts.
Now I’m going to challenge you and I hope you are ready.
Here is your mission, and I hope you accept it. Think of exercise and food as working together to make you better. Even at this time of year. You might think I’m crazy, but I think you can do it. Celebrate with what makes you feel good – and by feel good, I mean feel healthy, vital, alert, and alive.
There is a “reason” to “celebrate” with low quality food almost every day of the year – and I hear all the time from people how “hard” it is to lose weight and stay in shape. It’s only hard when it’s hard for your body to stay that way.
Celebrate with what is truly worth celebrating – that which enhances your health. And share it with someone in your life. Fitness is best served up as a buffet rather than a single-serving, solo activity.
Here’s to a healthy, happy year and a holiday worth celebrating in moderation for a better body and a fuller life!