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Monday, August 02, 2010

Why exercise doesn't necessarily make you lose weight..

Have you noticed that however much you exercise, it doesn’t make a difference to your weight?  Did you think it was just you, and that you needed to try a bit harder?  Or that you weren’t doing it quite correctly?
There’s no doubt that exercise makes you fitter and stronger, but new studies are showing that it doesn’t help to promote weight loss.  Dr John Briffa tells us more about it here

I first started to think about this concept when I went to watch the London marathon.  There were runners of all shapes and sizes, and everyone there must have done a fair bit of training – well, by the time I’d saw them they’d run 13 miles and were still going so that’s saying something!  I had assumed that all runners would be stick thin on account of all the exercise they were doing.  Not so.

So what’s going on here?  Many people think that exercise is an essential part of losing weight, and if they could just have the motivation to get to the gym, the pounds would melt away.

My belief is that overeating is the primary cause of weight gain, not lack of exercise.  Overeating includes all the times when you eat food that you’re not hungry for: food that you eat as a treat rather than because you’re hungry; finishing everything on your plate because you don’t want to waste it; eating the kid's leftovers because it’s a shame to put it in the bin; eating food because you ‘deserve it’; having a muffin when you have a coffee because that’s just what you always do; eating a big meal and feeling stuffed and horrible afterwards.

If you are overweight due to overeating, then you are likely to continue doing so whether you are exercising or not.  Your appetite may increase if you do more exercise, but you will still probably eat more than you need.

So it makes sense to look at the causes of over-eating if you want to become at peace with food and your body.  Doing any kind of regular exercise is of course a healthy activity, but it might not affect your weight unless you address the causes of your over eating as well.

My friends at Beyond Chocolate are experts in this area.  Reading their book is a good place to start, but they are also running a one day course called ‘Stop Emotional Eating’ which will help you to look at what role overeating plays in your life, and how you can change things.  If you want to have a chat with me about any of this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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