As we move toward talking more about personal finance I want to wrap up our health talks with my opinion on exercise…
My belief is that it is overrated and here is why…
Without doing any “exercise” at all you are already burning calories. This is called your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). Most people call BMR by the other term “metabolism”.
Exercise is in addition to your BMR. Now without any exercise at all you have three choices. Eat less then your BMR and lose weight. Eat about the same as your BMR and maintain your weight. Eat more then your BMR and gain weight.
Now your BMR can be increased by many things. Most notably, the more muscle mass you have the higher your BMR is likely to be. This is why I recommend weight lifting over cardio in any weight loss exercise plan.
Adding exercise to the mix can only help you lose more weight, but here is the issue. People who exercise often get more hunger pangs and therefore eat more to compensate for the extra calories they burn. They often “reward” themselves for an hour on a treadmill by eating an extra piece of cake, or whatever other food you can imagine. This erases any gain they might have seen and is a waste of an hour in the gym if you ask me.
Think of it this way, in the financial sense….
Cardio only pays you once. You burn the calories then and there, but it doesn’t help you burn calories in the future. Weight lifting helps you burn calories there, AND also helps you burn calories in the future by increasing your BMR.
But my argument right now isn’t necessarily between cardio and weight lifting. My argument is that exercise is overrated as a way to weight loss. And it is overrated because people tend to eat MORE for the extra calories they expended in exercise.
Top 10 Tips for Health & Weight Loss
- Focus on Diet First – Take a food inventory. No matter if you find it tedious and boring count your calories for at least the first month. After that, you should have a pretty good idea of how many calories you are putting in your mouth.
- Stop drinking your calories – Water is your best choice. Tea is a good 2nd choice. Juice, milk, soda, coffee, wine, beer, etc. These all make up a much larger part of your daily calories then we realize. Especially when you are adding all that milk to your daily latte. Switching to drinking nothing but water or tea for a month will help give you the results you are looking for.
- Lift Weights – Man or woman, doesn’t matter. Make part of your exercise routine lifting weights. And women, please don’t be afraid of gaining bulky muscles. You won’t.
- Watch Your Sugar Intake – Especially artificial sweeteners such as High Fructose corn syrup which are in everything! Some artificial sweeteners don’t have calories, but their chemical makeup causes your body to crave more things that are sweet and calorie laden. Sugars found naturally in fruits are much better for you then sugars found in packaged and processed products.
- Sleep More. Rest More. – No excuses. Not only are we chronically dehydrated, we are also chronically sleep deprived. Lack of sleep definitely takes away our performance and makes life not as happy as it could be. Just ask Ben Franklin what more sleep could do for you.
- Eat Your Vegetables – There is a reason your mom always told you to eat your veggies as a kid. She knew they were good for you. One of my favorite authors, Dr. Weil, recommends a few above others. Namely, broccoli, spinach, and garlic. These all have nutrients we are commonly lacking, and/or have powerful antioxidants that help ward against disease.
- Get Emotional About Health – I’ve always been a pretty logical kind of guy, but I’ve made a realization in my life. Emotion is what creates Motion. You need a strong reason to get you to do the things you need to do to be healthy and/or lose weight.
- Understand Cause And Effect - Take some time to figure things out. What causes you to gain weight? What causes you to lose weight? Experiment. Don’t assume anything. Don’t listen to well meaning people who know nothing. Sift through all the information, find out what really works. Again, this goes back to the previous tip. If you don’t have a strong enough reason why, you won’t do the research.
- Monitor your progress – This goes back to the previous step too. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t if you don’t keep track of it. Write it down. Get your own health journal. Find out how much further you are running or how much more you are lifting. How much weight you are losing, and how much better you look in a mirror. Track anything and everything! Sometimes just the act of keeping track of everything will subconsciously help you to make better healthier decisions. This in turn will also help you to lose weight.
- Find balance in everything – This is probably the best piece of advice I have. Don’t go to extremes. Don’t exercise so much you kill yourself. I used to spend 2 hours every day in the gym. I saw results, I gained about 15-20 pounds of lean muscle mass, but it wasn’t sustainable. It lasted 4 months and I switched over to running 3 days a week. Likewise, don’t starve yourself to death. Your body will force yourself to eventually eat again because it is lacking the nutrition it needs. There are much better long term sustainable ways to have the body you want. You just need to find them and practice them.
And please understand that I am not advocating exercising less. I am trying to make it clear that you have to know what exercise is doing for you. What is the cause and effect? When you exercise more, do you simply eat more to compensate or do you hold your eating in check? Are you staying active doing things you enjoy?
I’m not saying that you can be a couch potato and lose weight or even be healthy. I am saying that exercise truly is overrated. It is not the end all, be all that it is made out to be for weight loss and healthy living. What you eat and how you live your life factor more into that then how much you exercise.
At the end of the day, you have to become well educated about your own body, and do what’s best for it. Half the problem is in finding the correct information, the other half is in doing it. Science helps us move faster than trial and error would, but not everything you read about health is science. Likewise, all the information in the world won’t help you lose weight or be healthy if you don’t put it into action.
Try things out yourself. Find what works, and stick with it. Be sure you are getting the desired results by monitoring and testing everything. Once you create the lifestyle that leads to good health then everything is easy from there.
As I move into talking more about personal finance, I will be referring back to articles like these often, because I do believe it is all connected. Health and Money Issues are very much alike. And it all comes down to your own personal development in the end. What kind of person do you want to be?
As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and feelings in the comment section. And good luck to you in all you do!