Have you been playing the calorie burning game? Paying close attention to how many calories you burn during a work out or on your activity monitor? Letting those numbers tell you how much you can or can’t eat? Relying on those numbers for your exercise motivation? Getting frustrated when you don’t lose weight even though you have been burning a ton of calories?
If so, are you missing out? The true benefit of exercise for weight loss is not the calorie burning!
The fact is that the amount of calories we burn during movement varies greatly. It is relatively small compared to the amount we could consume in just a fraction of the time. More importantly though, those number are a big distraction. I often hear of patients suffering through exercise just to burn calories or so focused on burning calories without realizing how good exercise feels.
Stress is part of life! There is no way around it. Whether it is a big stressful event or chronic long-lasting stress, the response in our body is the same. Stress prepares the body for movement. When we don’t move in response to stress, it drains our energy, lowers our immune systems ability to keep us healthy, and adds unnecessary wear and tear on every system in the body!
When we are feeling down or tense from stress, we look for comfort. We naturally want to feel better. Our brain learns pretty quickly that those easy to access foods with sugar and fat help the brain feel better. Comfort foods increase brain chemicals that improve our mood, until… we realize we just blew our best intention to eat well. Then feel crummy again, thus adding to the stress response. It’s a vicious cycle isn’t it!
Enter the calorie burning game. We might try to burn off those calories by fervently exercising. Exercising to make up for a mistake keeps us in that vicious cycle. We might be tempted to push too hard and feel more tired and sore after. We are reminded how hard it is to burn off those extra calories and feel even worse.
Ready to end the game?
How do you know you are stressed? What does stress look and feel like in your life? Tight jaw and stomach? Tension in your shoulders? Trouble sleeping? Headache? Moody? Food cravings? Great! What? Yes, great! These are your warning signals. It is your body telling you it is ready to move! The fact is that exercise, even simply movement breaks, increases the same chemicals in our brain as comfort food, just in a natural way! (minus the viscous cycle of extra calories and guilt). Replacing eating in response to stress with movement gives the body what it really needs. THAT is the real value of exercise for weight loss!
Keep Moving, Be Well,
Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery. Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center
These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician