What’s More Important – Exercise or Diet?
We all want to be healthier. It’s probably true that at one time or another you have either been on a diet or joined a gym. Indeed maybe you took a real plunge and joined a gym whilst on a diet! You might think that this was a mistake or you might feel that this was the only course of action available – all or nothing! But which one is right, and which one offers the best long term results? Here we look at what’s more important, exercise or diet and how to give yourself the best chance of success. If that sounds good, then read on for more…
Any new regime needs goals. If you don’t have something to aim for, how are you going to know whether or not you’re progressing? There are however goals and SMART goals.
Rather than simply saying you want to lose weight or get fit, instead make your goals SMART i.e. Specific; Measured; Achievable; Realistic and Time based. One such goal could be to lose two pounds of weight a week for the first four weeks and thereafter one pound for the remaining 6 weeks. You can see how this is much more specific and measurable compared to “I want to lose weight”. A different goal may be to be able to run a mile without stopping within 8 weeks. Compare this to just say running a Park Run, not only is not specific enough, there’s also no time limit or expectation put on the goal. None SMART goals will drift and often be soon forgotten, whereas carefully considered and measured goals will remain a source of inspiration and motivation.
Remember though, once you have achieved your goal, change it and move it forward. Keeping your goals dynamically fluid will ensure that they stay valid and relevant too.
To lose weight you are going to have to become calorie deficient i.e. consume fewer calories in your diet than you expend everyday including exercise. It’s thought that a pound of fat is worth around 2500 calories, so if you have a daily deficit of 500 calories you should shift a pound every 5 days. Starvation isn’t the key though and can be as harmful as over-eating.
If you think that exercise is the best way to lose weight then have a little think about this… a good healthy lifestyle will mean that you understand how many calories are in the food that you eat and may indeed include you keeping an honest food diary. This is recommended. You’ll know just how quickly 500 calories are eaten – but do you know how much exercise you’ll have to do to burn that many? You may soon be inspired to rethink your dietary habits once you are faced with an endless slog on a treadmill to break even! Eating 500 less is much easier than burning 500 more and if you’re still not convinced, take the test.
So what’s the place of exercise? Well it creates a healthier body, both physically and mentally – think of the endorphin rush post workout. It also helps build muscle, and whilst muscle can increase body weight, you have to think what are your exact goals, better tone, shape, or bigger build? Muscles need more energy to function though and so this can help with the diet too! If you’ve been a slave to the scales before, concentrate instead on selfies and how your clothes fit, these are better ways of seeing the transformation.
You can also increase exercise away from the gym. Try getting off the bus a stop early, park further from the office, use the stairs more and not the lift. Going out for a lunchtime stroll helps and any four legged friends love a walk too. It will all add up and fast…
You Probably Knew
In case you hadn’t guessed already, when it comes to a healthier lifestyle you need to focus on both your diet and exercise. Doing so will ensure the best possible results and mean that you’ll be much more likely to achieve your SMART goals.
Be kind to yourself too though. Life can be tough enough without feeling like you’re being punished. Don’t use words like diet or exercise, instead adopt a more holistic approach and use the word lifestyle. They’ll be times when things go wrong, or you have a mishap, but don’t beat yourself up and keep going. Remember the reasons why you decided to make a change and then get right back to it. Good luck.