Exercise Powers Weight Loss

By Meg Sharp. Director of Training and Education WFCC

Inspiration of the Day:

“Everything is hard before it is easy.” -Goethe

Typically, the most powerful factor in successful weight loss is dietary change. That doesn’t change how vital exercise is. In fact, regular exercise in conjunction with caloric restriction supports more favourable weight loss results and is often cited as the number one predictor for keeping weight off.

Furthermore, whether you’re interested in weight loss or not – the fact that exercise can build and maintain lean tissue is an important benefit for every one of us.

What that says to me, is if you want to lose weight… and keep it off… exercise is key.

Here’s the skinny on how exercise works:

Resistance Train:
It boosts metabolism and is protein sparing. So, you keep your precious energy and muscles intact. It increases confidence and movement competence. It improves posture and reduces pain. It keeps your muscles young. You don’t need fancy weights, though a few bands will help you get more back exercises into your workout.

Move every day:
Sustained weight loss requires new habits. Doing something – anything! – every day or the majority of days (aim for 5!). Whenever you can – schedule it in. A week or weeks at a time. Try find at least one or two days where your workout IS the priority.

Mix it up:

Aim for a mix of high intensity short workouts and longer, more comfortable ones. Some workouts might be 12-15 minutes. Others 30-35. And still others maybe as long as an hour or more. Change exercise types too. More variety mean less boredom and reduces incidence of overuse injury
Get a workout buddy: Engage a family member or a friend to exercise with you. Outside or virtually. It keeps things fresh, makes it fun, increases accountability. Social support is the number one predictor for exercise adherence!

Emphasize quality over quantity:

“Longer, more comfortable workouts” should not be confused with dragging yourself out for 10km run where everything starts to fall apart by before you finish. All workouts should feel mechanically safe. And all should have you sustain as relatively high intensity. A walk for example needs be quick paced enough that you are pumping your arms up and back, really driving those glutes on the hills and breaking small sweat.

Listen to your body:

If, after a good warm-up you are still feeling sore, tired – it might be a better day to work on mobility or – instead of weights or a run – head for that walk again.

Find activities you enjoy:

You’re not going to love every workout. But some of them should be fun or fulfilling. As you get stronger and more coordinated you will most likely start to enjoy more of the activities. You might even get addicted to them. Which isn’t always a bad thing.

Be kind to yourself:

Working out is work. Some days will be easier than others. Some weeks will be easier than others. Be patient. Avoid black and white thinking. You might have a 7-day stint where all you can fit in is 4 minutes a day. Trust me. I’ve been there. All is not lost. Just keep going. You’re worth it.

Finally, my personal favourite…

Exercise boosts self-esteem:

An interesting thing happens to many people once they start exercising regularly. As they become a little stronger, sit and walk a little taller, walk upstairs with a spring in their step, their relationship with their body starts to shift. They start to feel better about themselves. About their bodies. (And this can happen – incidentally – in the absence of weight loss.) What their body can DO becomes more salient. Reducing stress, feeling happier, being faster, more powerful, more agile and stronger become as much if not more important than the original weight loss goal. (And then guess what happens… it becomes a little easier to lose weight!)