Working out is not essential to weight loss

In the past year I have heard variations on this sentence probably 100 times:
“I would love to lose weight, but I can’t make it to the gym.”

In my experience, going to the gym has very little to do with weight loss. It isn’t that regular exercise doesn’t help. It’s that eating less on a regular basis helps a lot more. It is my experience that people who concentrate on “eat less” will lose more weight than those who concentrate on “move more”.

My anecdotal evidence is proof enough for me. A few years ago I decided to ride my bike to get in shape. For two months I faithfully rode hard for an hour each day, five days a week. I would weigh myself every morning. After two months I was much stronger, but I hadn’t lost any weight, period. Back pain forced me to quit riding, and without the regular exercise I eventually gained weight. In my case, the exercise was helping me maintain my weight, but it wasn’t enough to help me lose any. I’m not sure how much exercise it would have taken, but I didn’t have it in my schedule.

Since the beginning of the year I have lost 37 lbs. During that time I haven’t been to the gym and I haven’t been on my bike. I have concentrated on “eat less” and it has worked for me.

Does that mean I discount the benefits of exercise? Not at all. Now that the weather is beautiful I have been anxious to get out on my bike again. It will make me feel stronger and overall, better. But, weight loss is not the benefit I seek from exercise. I can still lose weight even if I never get on the bike.

In case you are wondering, I have been using to track what I eat, and to keep me within my calorie limit.


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