Phase 4

Dieting Meets Exercise and Calories Out

Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.
— Henry Ford

A dieter's relationship to exercise is every bit as important to develop and redefine as their relationship to food. This phase of the journey is all about finding the best fit exercise to become the person you want to be as well building a lasting relationship with physical exercise.

Anecdotally, I used to hate physical exercise. It was something I felt uncomfortable doing, never something I would imagine as enjoyable. In fact, it was closer related to torture in my mind. 

But through factoring exercise with dieting, exercise became less torture and more of a chore to be done so I could continue eating the foods I wanted. I wanted to have my calories in, in the form of my favorite (less than healthy) foods, but counteracting those calories in with calories out required me to adopt some exercise habits. 

Weight loss became a balancing act of "how much do I really want that food thing?" versus "am I really willing to do an hour of cardio to burn it back off?" This kind of accountability and balance is what I was missing mentally, prior to starting my own diet and exercise journey. It is vital to realize that consuming more food than needed can lead to two things: a) burning off those excess calories through activity or b) allowing those calories to be stored as fat. 

With this approach to eating, food doesn't become less enjoyable, but it does apply a connotation of necessity to food. Eating for more than necessity just has a counterbalance, and acknowledging that makes exercise a liberating experience.

You can eat whatever you want, once this principle is in place because calories from food no longer stack up within the body as added weight. Exercise is no longer something you're forced to do, but rather it's a practice that allows for weight loss, while still having the option to indulge, when you're willing to pay for it. 

From a personal perspective, exercising has become more than a great way to burn off those pesky excess calories I consume once in a while. The returns of improved physical, emotional, and psychological health have made exercise a pleasure in my life.

The physical, and most obvious, returns on exercising have been that my cardiovascular health has never been better. Where my 18 year old self saw prehypertension in my blood pressure and a resting pulse of 98 beats per minute, today I have low blood pressure and a resting heart rate of about 65 beats per minute. Dropping 120 pounds moved me from having a BMI well into the range of obesity to being comfortably within the healthy range for 6'4" guys like me. 

Accomplishing a daily, weekly, and long-terms goals can also do wonders for a person's emotional health. Besides the boost to self-esteem, getting to the gym and meeting goals can build a healthy relationship with personal growth and meeting the demands of leading a healthy lifestyle through physical fitness and health.

I recommend using stickers on a calendar or setting calendar updates on a smartphone to maintain goal-orientation while continuing to chip away at excess pounds and building a habit around physical health. Remember this fact, and it can empower you to overcome pretty much any habit, or lack thereof: developing or breaking a habit requires 14 days of sustained practice. Once a habit has been formed and maintained for 14 days, it becomes ingrained in the day-to-day for a person, and can become as easy as breathing for them. 

For example, when implementing an 8 hour - 16 hour meal and fasting plan (eat for 8 hours a day, fast for 16 hours), I found that I wasn't able to remember my start and end times on my own. I was setting myself up for failure because I wouldn't remember when I had eaten the night before, and when it would be okay for me to eat the next morning. A workaround became to set an alarm for 16 hours, after I finished dinner the night before so that my phone alert to when it would be okay start eating the next day. It worked! My phone replaced me as the party being held accountable for time tracking, and all I had to do was listen for my phone to tell me when it was okay to eat again, or when it was time to stop eating at night. 

In the next post, we look at selecting the most effective workout for obtaining goals, while still identifying workout routines, exercises, and lifestyle changes that allow for people with all body types to find success, and without risking injury or setbacks.