You're listening to the mindful weight loss podcast episode 46.
It's time to look at weight loss and a whole new way. Instead of focusing on calories in calories out, you'll learn how to use your brain to transform your body and heal your relationship with food. If you're ready to lose your weight for the last time, you're in the right place, because it's more than what you eat. It's who you are when you're eating. This is the mindful weight loss podcast. Here's your host life and weight loss coach, Dr. Michelle Tubman.
Welcome back this week, I am excited to talk about exercise this week. One of the most common questions that I get as a weight loss coach is what is the role of exercise and what should I be doing with my body to help me lose weight. And my own personal journey with this has been all over the map. I started as a child as being the person who would do anything to get out of gym class, any excuse out there, I'm sure I gave it to becoming a child who was committed to playing soccer and I played it from, you know, grade three all the way through to the end of my university career, and just flirting with different ways of exercising over the years. In fact, over the past couple of months, I've been going to a 45 here where I live. And I've discovered I love it. Like I mean I look forward to and I love it. And a 45 is a class based gym, where you go for 45 minutes you work out, there's a set routine that you do, and then you're done. And some of the things that I love about it, you know, first is the variety. So every single time I go, it's been a completely different workout. Sometimes it's weight based, sometimes it's cardio, sometimes it's a mix of both. Either way, I never know. And I show up and I do it, and I enjoy it. And I really love being in the energy of other people who are sweating it out as well. It's just really motivating for me. And I typically feel like a rockstar when I walk out of the place because the workouts are not easy by any stretch. And that I can even get through it without landing flat on my face is like a huge source of victory for me. And so this, this, it's just been such a fun thing to be a part of. And even though I'm really just doing it for fun, it's a way for me to get out of the house and be with other people, I've really noticed that my strength in particular, and also a little bit my cardiovascular fitness has really improved since I started attending these classes. So I think it's something that I'm going to stick with as I move forward here. And another thing that I've been flirting with over the past couple of months maybe is running. Now I used to be a runner. I've ran countless half marathons, countless five and 10 K's I did one marathon with my bestie in Honolulu, that was a bit of a disaster. But at some point, I stopped loving running, it wasn't an enjoyable thing for me anymore. And so I just kind of stopped doing it. And you know, lately, I've just been meeting people who are running and seeing, you know, ads about running in my Facebook feed and things like this. And so it's been on my mind, and I thought you know what, I'm just gonna give it a go and see how it feels. So walking is probably my most favorite form of movement, I do it all of the time. And so on some of my walks, I've just been incorporating little intervals of running, and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. I'm not hating it.
I'm also not loving it. I'm just I think I'm more cautious than anything else. So I'm gonna give that a little bit more time and just see how I feel as I do as I do more of that. And another thing that I've just recently maybe in the last couple of weeks started exploring is doing more mobility work. So I found this program online that teaches you how to do animal movements and primal movements. And, you know, these are kind of movements that we used to do instinctively as children, but that have become more difficult to do in adult bodies. And I looked up this program because I've actually been struggling with problems in my Achilles tendons recently. And a lot of that has to do with my posture, and the way that I'm walking and the way that I'm moving. And so one of my goals is to improve my mobility so that I can do all of these other things that I love with just a little bit more ease. And so what you notice as you listen to my fitness plan currently is that it has absolutely nothing to do with weight loss. Right I do a 45 Because I like getting out of the house and doing something with other people and I find it you know really exciting to be there, I do my walks, because it's what I love to do. It's part of my mental health routine. I've been flirting with the running in there just, you know, as an experimentation to see how it feels. And I'm doing this animal movement sort of mobility stuff so that I can improve my joints and my flexibility. Nowhere in there. Did I say anything about moving for weight loss? And I think that that's a crucial distinction to make, and that we know for sure, 100% that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But is it important to weight loss? If you listen to the media and the diet culture, then of course, the answer is yes. Right. I mean, since the 1920s, magazine covers have been plastered with different exercise fads or routines that promise more weight loss. You know, remember when we went through that whole, like vibration stage for weight loss, and this was just this passive way to get exercise and lose fat? I mean, of course, it doesn't work. But my point being that we've just been constantly getting the messages in media, that exercise is important. And I mean, think of all of the cliches that we hear when it comes to weight loss. I'm thinking, you know, calories in calories out, well, what's calories out? Exercise, and we hear eat less, move more, right? Move more exercise is 50% of that equation. But is it really, and so when people ask me the question, what role does exercise play in weight loss? My answer is, it's a little bit complicated. And just like when we talk about our relationship with food, our relationship with exercise all comes down to mindset, what we're thinking about it and what our intentions are when we engage in certain activities. And so what I'd like to do in today's episode, is really talk about the role exercise plays, and weight loss. And so I'm going to start by telling you a little bit about how metabolism works in the body and how exercise plays into that. And then I'm going to tell you exactly what the science says about exercise and weight loss. And then I will give you my thoughts on how we should be using exercise or even if we should be using exercise when we're on a weight loss journey. And so let's start by talking about how metabolism works. And the role exercise plays in the grand scheme of things. So
when we talk about metabolism, we're talking about the calories we burn. So about 65% of the calories, calories, we burn goats goes towards simply keeping us alive. And we call this our basal metabolic rate, or BMR. And this includes all of the things that keep us alive, like breathing, circulation, all of the chemical processes that happened in the body, that's the BMR. And then another full 10% of the calories we burn, are actually used to digest the foods that we eat 10%. And so the remaining 25% goes towards physical activity. And this doesn't just mean exercise. So when you look at this, from a metabolic point of view, there are actually two types of physical activity. The first is all the movement that just happens as we go about our days. So I'm talking about like brushing our teeth, walking to the bathroom, all of the fidgeting that we do throughout the day, we call this meat or non exercise Activity Thermogenesis. And meat really varies from person to person. So you know, for example, it's going to be much higher for somebody who has a very physical job, such as if you're serving tables, or if you're working in construction, and it's going to be lower for somebody who has a desk job. For me when I'm working in ER shift. I'm on my feet all day, my neat is probably quite higher than on business days when I'm sit sitting in front of the computer. And I know for me, it also probably depends very much on the season because I tend to spend much more time curled up reading a book in the winter, but more time like puttering around the garden, walking around, you know, outdoor shops and farmers markets and things like this in the summer. And so my need is probably much higher in the summer than it is in the winter. And so there's there's just this tremendous amount of variability. And then when we look at the second type of physical physical activity that contributes to our metabolism, it's that intentional activity we do the actual exercise, and the amount of calories that you burn when you're doing a workout or intentionally exercising depends on many, many things including your gender, and your weight and your age. Your fitness level, of course, and then also what kind of activity you're doing and how long you're doing it for, and how hard you're working when you do it. But what it comes down to is that for most of us, even if you're exercising regularly, it's really just where we burned the least amount of calories. And estimates are about just 5%. So even less than what we burned by simply digesting our food. So in the grand scheme of things, exercise actually contributes very little to our overall calorie expenditure during the day. And I think this is why the studies show time and time again, that exercise alone results in next to no weight loss.
I'm going to say that, again, the science is clear, that exercise alone results in next to no weight loss. It's a giant myth circulating out there that exercise is important in weight loss, it actually isn't. Now, there are some studies that do show that people lose weight with exercise. But in those studies, people are typically burning at least 500 calories a day. And at doing that at least five days a week, which is actually a significant amount of exercise done at a very high level of intensity, that for most of us who have lives to live is simply unsustainable, the effort that it takes to actually burn that many calories is tremendous. And you know, definitely more energy than it takes to just reduce the reduce the calories that we're in taking instead. And even then, even if you are burning at least 500 calories a day doing intense exercise, there's actually still no guarantee of weight loss. In fact, if you look at the studies where they they do have participants burn 500 calories a day, results tend to be all over the map. And many people actually still end up gaining weight with this exercise. And I know what you're thinking you're thinking, Yeah, but it's probably all just muscle. No, it's not the case. The reason why exercise tends to cause weight gain for a lot of people is that it affects our eating habits, and often very dramatic ways. We simply end up eating more when we're exercising more. And so when researchers look at the differences between people who gain weight versus lose weight when they're on these intense exercise programs, it all comes down to the fact that those who gain weight, end up eating more food than they did before they started the exercise program. And one big reason for this is simply your physiology. So exercise can ramp your hunger way up. And this happens because your body loves to maintain homeostasis, meaning that it wants to maintain its energy balance. So when you burn extra calories doing exercise, your brain will send you hunger signals, so that you end up consuming those calories back. It is super frustrating, but it's the way the body works. Now, I find different exercise tends to do this for me in different ways. Like you know, for example, if I do a weightlifting workout, I tend to not feel too hungry afterwards. But if I go for a swim, I am absolutely freaking famished and eat my face off afterwards. It's the weirdest thing. I'd be curious to know if there's different types of exercise for you that results in different levels of hunger afterwards. I don't know. But when I think back to like my soccer career, I use that word loosely. As a child, it was just our routine to go to practice or play the game and then go get a Slurpee afterwards. It was just soccer than Slurpee all of the freaking time. And that wasn't necessarily hunger, that was more ritual. But it just kind of shows that there is this tendency for us to eat after we exercise. And the science shows that oftentimes when we do eat more, in relation to exercise, we're eating poor food choices because we're getting cravings for sugar and carbs, because that is what's going to replenish the calories more efficiently. And I know this isn't true for anyone for everyone. One thing that I noticed in my own life is that when I am exercising routinely, I actually get cravings for healthier foods. And I feel a little bit turned off on the junk food primarily because I usually feel really, really energetic and awesome after a workout and the thought of eating something that's going to make my stomach feel gross. Just kind of turns me off. And so maybe some of you can relate to that as well. But for many, many other people there is just this Incredible urge to eat more and often eat more unhealthy foods after exercise. And then in addition to the physiology piece of this, we also have some mindset things that love to get in the way. And so we start to tell ourselves things like, you know what, I just did a kick ass workout, so I deserve a treat, right? And then you go and eat something, you know, three times the calories of what of whatever exercise you just did, right? Or you're eating something now and you say, well, it doesn't matter, I'll just work it off tomorrow, right. So there's, there's, there's these thoughts that we tell ourselves and these games that we play with ourselves that, you know, really just encourage us to eat more in the name of exercise. And then if you look beyond the food piece of this exercise can screw things up for us in other ways, as well. And what actually unfortunately happens is that it ends up decreasing our NEET or those calories that we burn from the non exercise activity that we engage in, throughout the day. And partly, this is because we just feel wiped out after a vigorous exercise, right, so you go and have your hard workout, and then you come home. And you know, you relax on the couch for a little bit, or you you know, soak in the tub or, you know, you're you're just resting your body. And so when you're resting your body, you're not doing all that fidgeting and walking around and putting in the house and, you know, burning all of those neat calories. And, you know, this can also be a mindset thing, too, right? Because we're thinking that because we worked out so hard, we can just take it easy for the rest of the day. And so I've watched this happen in my husband all the time, he has a good workout, and then he will spend the evening playing video games that that is his reward for doing the exercise. And that kind of counter like, cancels each other out. And unfortunately, it doesn't even stop there. Exercise also decreases our basal metabolic rate, or the amount of calories that our body burns just to stay alive. And our bodies simply become more efficient, which on the face of it sounds amazing. Of course, we want to be more efficient. But what this means is that we're actually burning less calories throughout the day. And they actually studied this and former Biggest Loser contestants. And they showed that after the contestants lost their weight, and of course, on that show, like punishing, hard, long exercise was kind of part of their program. But after they lost their weight, they showed that their metabolism slowed down a significant amount. And that that's part of the thing that contributed to the weight gain many of those contestants experienced when their show was over. But you know, speaking of the Biggest Loser contestants, those who were more successful at keeping their weight off over the long term continued to exercise after they lost their weight. And that was a big distinction between contestants who gained weight and who didn't after they lost their weight on the show. And this is also consistent with many of the other scientific research, which tells us that exercise is actually fantastic for maintaining weight loss. And also just related to that for preventing weight gain as well. And you know, one of the reasons for this is that once you lose weight, your metabolism slows down to a level that would be actually lower than someone else who was at the same weight. But who didn't have to lose weight to get there. And you know, that difference is estimated to be about 300 calories. So if you just use, you know, I'm just going to use round numbers as an example. But let's just say you and your sister both weighed 130 pounds, but your sister has just always been 130 pounds, whereas you were 180 pounds, and then you lost 50 pounds, okay, so what that means is you need 300 less calories a day than your sister to maintain your weight, which means you have to be eating 300 less calories per day, which is often difficult. But when you add exercise into this, so if you are burning about 300 extra calories a day by exercise that kind of counterbalances that difference out. And so that is why moderate exercise is a really, really good tool for maintaining weight that you've lost, but not so great for helping you lose it in the first place. But as I mentioned before at the beginning of this episode, even if exercise won't necessarily help you lose weight, there are still excellent, excellent reasons to do it. And one of the biggest things is that it actually helps you burn visceral fat. So we have A couple different types of fat in our bodies. So the visceral fat is the fat that actually surrounds and bathes your organs inside your abdomen. And this fat is metabolically active, it actually produces hormones. And it contributes to a lot of the pathology that leads to cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, and all of the other things that are associated with chronic diseases when you're overweight. And so exercise preferentially burns visceral fat, and so you won't necessarily see a difference in your body, looking in the mirror, and you won't necessarily see a huge difference on the scale when you learn when you lose visceral fat, but you will be drastically improving your health. And of course, most people who have a regular exercise routine say they just feel better when they're exercising regularly. And they notice that their energy levels are a little bit lower a little bit off if they go a period of time without moving their body. And then of course, the science also says that we're more likely to live longer, no matter what our weight is, if we're exercising regularly. Versus if you look at couch potatoes, where the life expectancy is just a little bit lower. So lots of good reasons to be exercising, that have nothing to do with weight loss per se. All right. So with all of that background information, here is my answer to that big question of whether or not exercise should be a part of your weight loss journey. And my answer to that is that it all depends on your mindset around exercise. And here's what I mean by that. So I think the ultimate goal definitely needs to be to include more movement in your life, whether you're trying to lose weight or not like that part is not negotiable. And note that I'm using the word movement here instead of exercise, because I think there's so much negativity and diet talk associated with the word exercise. And for many women exercise means sweating it out at the gym, or suffering through it, or you know, doing specific programs. And it doesn't actually have to be that way at all. And so I want you to take a look at how you think about exercise. When they do studies on the effects of exercise on weight loss, many women actually drop out before the study is even done. And when you ask them why it often become it often comes down to their expectations. So if women thought exercise was needed to lose weight, and then when they didn't see the weight loss that they expected, they felt frustrated and defeated, and so gave up and dropped out of the studies. But women who were viewing their exercise as something fun, that they just did part of their overall healthy lifestyle, then they were more likely to stick to it. So mindset really matters.
And, you know, this is what I actually mean about mindset. How are you thinking about exercise, if you think it's something that you need to do to lose weight, then I really suggest taking a break from exercise and just spending a little bit of time exploring your thoughts around all of this. And this is especially true if you're using exercise as a bargaining chip to eat like crap. So you know, this would sound like you know, things like, well, you know what, it's okay to eat this bag of chips today, because I plan on going for a run later. Or I had such a hard workout this morning. And I got I got up super early this morning to do it. So you know, I deserve these donuts for breakfast, right? So just just using exercise as an excuse to eat things that you know, are not going to help you lose weight in the long run. Right? And then related to that, you might also find yourself using exercise as punishment for over indulging. So this just goes in the opposite direction. So, you know, you overeat, you eat something that you didn't plan for. And then you say, You know what, because I did this, I'm gonna have to work out an extra hour tomorrow, right? So you're punishing yourself for for eating. So if you find yourself doing either of those things, those are signs that you're coming from a diet mentality when it comes to exercise, and you're just going to have lots of suffering and misery around all of it. And there's also some other signs that your approach to working out is coming from a diet mentality, rather than an overall healthy lifestyle. If you're you know, you're asking yourself questions like, well, you know what type of exercise is best for for weight loss? Should I be doing cardio? Should I be doing weights? Is there a certain ratio of cardio to weights? How much should I lift? How often should I left? Should I run? Should I do more hit workouts? Should I be doing yoga? Is yoga even going to help me lose weight? If you're asking yourself questions like this? That's definitely a sign mean that you're coming from that diet mentality. And also, you know, if you're having lots of drama or guilt around missing a workout, if you've given yourself a plan and you miss it, because you know, life gets in the way, or you're feeling unwell, or whatever it is, then you've got all sorts of negative thoughts about that. That's probably a sign that you're putting too much emphasis on working out to lose weight. All right, we need to take a step back. And then of course, if you're not enjoying what you're doing, that's a big deal as well. I'm telling you that you absolutely can lose your weight, without suffering, doing something you hate at the gym. I promise, I promise you, right. And, you know, another sign for us more cerebral types is if you're just if you find that you're doing a ton of research, you know, Googling, you know, what exercise should I do to lose weight, you know, things like this, you know that that's another sign that you're just approaching this from the wrong mindset. And so if any of that sounds like you, my suggestion really is to take a break from the exercise. And just step back from it a little bit and do some thought work around your exercise mindset. And, you know, maybe get your journal out and do some writing around why you're doing exercise and what your expectations are around it. And, you know, you may want to just jot down some thoughts about the role you think exercise plays in weight loss, and how much pressure you're putting on yourself to work out for the outcome of losing weight. And, you know, see if you can find a different way to approach movement or exercise, you know, if you can come from a place of doing it as part of a healthy lifestyle, because it makes you feel good. And because you want to do it, rather than something you think you have to do because you want to lose weight. And then when you feel ready to approach movement as more of a healthy part of your life that isn't connected to weight loss, then start by asking yourself what you actually like to do, and what would feel good for you. Rather than asking what you need to do to lose weight. It's such an important distinction there. And so if you do have an exercise routine right now that you aren't using as a form of self punishment, and you're not using it to justify crappy eating, and if you're not doing it to try to lose your weight, and if you enjoy what you're doing, then that is fantastic. That is absolutely the goal, just keep at it. And if you're not yet incorporating any movement into your life at all, that's also okay. But I do you really recommend considering adding movement in as part of a healthy lifestyle. And so I would suggest start by writing down a list of things that you actually enjoy doing. And it doesn't have to be something that you'd necessarily label as traditional exercise, right. This is why I like to use the word movement instead,
let's so this can be any literally anything that moves your body. So maybe it's walking or dancing, or I don't know, playing pickleball or swimming, or you know, doing gardening or playing with your kids, or you know, maybe you've always just wanted to try a yoga class or a spin class or whatever, just whatever calls to you just write it down. And then pick one thing that you can do this week and schedule some time to do it, even for a few minutes. That's how you start. So you pick just one thing you love and give it a try. And then take a moment to notice how it makes you feel. And I don't mean just physically but also note how it changes your mood, your energy levels, your outlook on life, all the things. And if you feel positive about it, just take note of that, and schedule time to do it again next week. And if it didn't feel super great to you, then that's totally fine to write it down as a lesson learned. And pick something else to try next week. And remember that the goal here really is to focus on your well being as a whole and not weight loss per se. So if you're just starting to introduce movement to your life for the first time, or if you're trying to approach movement more as a healthy lifestyle versus as you know, something that you're trying to do to lose weight, then what I really recommend that you do is start slow, start small, and really pay attention to what's going on in your brain. If at any point you start hearing thoughts like well, you know what? Dancing isn't going to help me lose weight. I'm not going to do it. Or gardening that's not exercise, or crap. You know what I ate a doughnut. I better do extra exercise tomorrow. Or you know what? This was a really great workout. I worked so hard. I deserve a drink. You know if you ever noticed thought like thoughts like that creeping up. That is the time to just put a pause on the movement, spend some time examining your thoughts around it, and then come back, come back to your list of movements that bring you joy, pick something and move forward from there. And just, you know, this is a process, right? If you're listening to this, and what you're hearing is resonating, if you know that perhaps maybe exercise is coming from an unhealthy mindset. Totally fine. It is, it makes total sense that you're doing that, because this is what the diet industry has been telling us, literally since the 1920s. That we need to do. And it's gonna take a little bit of time to unwind that. So if you find that you're in the middle of exercise, you know, you're at the gym, you're on the treadmill, whatever, and you start to notice these thoughts. Just give yourself a little bit of kindness and compassion, and know that it makes sense that you're having those thoughts and just see if you can turn them around, and and look at what you're doing as an act of self love, rather than an act of self punishment. All right. That's what I got for you today, a whole lot of talk about exercise. This is something that we talk a lot about in our program, nourish yourself body in mind. Lots of people have healing to do around exercise. And if you think that's you, we are a place to provide some safety to navigate through all of that. So if you'd like some more information, just head on, head on over to our website. WWE is a health.com and you can find out everything you need there. I'm also on social media at ways a health and you can reach out to me anytime. Until then thank you so much for listening, and I'll see you again next week.
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