We know that one of the reasons you're probably on this site is that you want to lose weight. We get it. But the truth is that exercise, on its own, is not a great way to take off pounds (it does, though, work better for keeping you at a weight you like, if that's your goal).
Simply put, when you work out three things tend to happen: One, exercising makes most people hungrier, so they naturally want to eat more. So the 200 calories you burned at the gym or in a class can easily be X-ed out by eating, say, a cookie.
Secondly, exercise makes you hungrier. At least it does for most people.
The last thing that happens is that working out makes you feel like it's okay to eat more. Everybody likes a reward, right? So it's easy to feel that you've earned the right to indulge in a treat--a candy bar, or a bag of chips, or a whipped-cream-topped latte--after you've put in a hard workout. But unless you're an athlete who works out for hours every day, it's really hard to burn enough calories and indulge in high-calorie/high-fat foods and still lose weight. It's one of those sucky laws of life.
We'd like you to consider swapping the "I want to lose weight" thinking for "I want to get strong and feel great" thinking.
We absolutely get that this is not an easy shift to make. But if your primary goal isn't to be a perfect size (or if that just feels like it's impossible right now) or get into a pair of jeans from high school, but rather to feel really good and do the things in your life that you love, it makes more sense to think about food from the point of view of "what will help me feel like working work out more? What will make me hate exercise less?" (Is there a worse feeling than having no energy and feeling like you should go to the gym, but the last thing you want to do is drag your butt there? Good, healthy food is literally the number-one thing that will give you that energy. Sleep and rest is a close second, along with getting enough water.)
When you start by thinking, what foods will make me strong and feel great? everything shifts and workouts you once thought sucked get easier and even (sometimes) fun. Or at least less sucky.
This is one of 10 swaps you can make that will get your eating on track and give you enough energy to fuel your workouts. If you make all 10 swaps, you'll be well on your way to a healthy diet.
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Scale photo courtesy of Renee/Flickr