Diet or Exercise, Which is It?

“Listen,” a friend whispered to me, “the fitness guy at my gym once told me that exercise has nothing to do with weight loss. Like he said, you can’t overcome a bad diet with exercise. Is that right?”

Yep, he’s right!.

In a recent newspaper article and post, I explained how the combination of carbohydrates (sugar) and fat in your diet is responsible for excess fat hanging around on your body. But some people just don’t want to hear that. Surely there must be another way!

So instead some think (hope) all they have to do to lose weight is to exercise, jog a few miles a day or walk 10,000 steps. Go to the gym and lift heavy weights. Too many people watching the Biggest Loser think exercise is the big deal and it has to be extreme. Willing to do an extraordinary amount of work to avoid fixing their diet.

Other people aren’t quite so willing to do hard work and are overwhelmed with “extreme.” So they just abandon the idea of losing weight. No hope!

Fact is, for the average person like you and me, exercising isn’t likely to have a big impact on losing weight one way or another. But that doesn’t mean exercise isn’t important.

Moving your body is critical to your health. Without exercise your muscles become flabby and weak. Your balance suffers, making you susceptible to falls. Your heart and lungs don’t function efficiently. Joints get stiff and are easily injured. Endurance suffers. You are stressed, not sleeping well, don’t have energy or feel good..  You are aging much more quickly.

I personally don’t find those conditions attractive and doubt that you do either.  So my message to you is this — get off the couch and start moving. Just do it for the right reasons because weight loss isn’t one of them.

The question is, how much “moving.”?  And the answer is, more than you are moving now.

If you just struggled (is that a real word?) your way up off the couch, “more” might mean walking around the house, around the block, to the mail box a few times a day. In Mount Ida or other communities with an agricultural extension service, “more” might be attending the Extension Get Fit classes 3 days a week. Join with friendly people and learn to add light weights to your regular “exercise” routine. In Mount Ida, the extension service office number is 870-867-2311.

Use your imagination. The goal is to move.

As you grow stronger extend that walk to a mile or even more, start carrying your own groceries, climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator, dance to your favorite oldie in your own home. Exercising for the couch potato or the handicapped is an evolution, not a revolution. If you know anyone who has been to rehab after an injury, you have watched them build strength slowly over time.

I have been there. After a serious illness and coma, I couldn’t walk, get out of bed, or even sit up on my own. After rehab those abilities were restored, slowly and not over night. But they came back. This can work for you as well.

The next question, is your weight as measured by your bathroom scale the most important?  Nope, that’s not right.

Technically, muscle is heavier than body fat BUT the same weight in body fat takes up more space. The space consumed by your fat determines the size clothes you wear. And you have to confess, it’s really how you look in your clothes that matters to you.

This is an inches thing, not a weight thing. This is the amount of space your body is taking up in this world.  It is possible to lose inches and clothes sizes with only a small amount of actual “weight loss” as measured by your scales. Fix your diet, drag out the tape measure, get off your duff and move around.

The thing that reduces body fat and prevents adding more body fat is a good diet every day as a matter of course. The thing that builds and tones muscles, reduces stress, slows the aging process, and generally improves your whole outlook on life is some exercise every day as a matter of course.

“Every day” means ongoing. If you go on a “diet”, lose 10 lbs, celebrate and go off the “diet” that ten pounds will come back with a few extra bonus pounds. if you get off  the couch for a few weeks and then sit back down, the strength gained simply fades away.

Fix your diet, drag out the tape measure, get off your duff and move around.

Questions may be directed to patsmith2@live.com, Find Pat and her book, It’s All About the Food, on Facebook and Amazon.

Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All About the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Pat is a resident of Montgomery County, AR: president of Ouachita Village, Inc .board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry):  chairman of the Tasty Acre project: and member of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

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