Do you see exercise as punishment?
Have you ever eaten too much and then imposed exercise as punishment? So you ate a whole family size pizza. Feeling disgusted with yourself, you vow to do a punishing workout to make up for it. Or it might that you promise to get up early and go for a long run after too many late night chocolates. I know women who are trapped in a cycle of having to go on long runs every day because they feel like the instant they stop the kilos will pile on.
How about the reverse? You finish your jog or your workout session. You feel like you have “earned it” and you tuck into a big muffin or piece of cake for morning tea with your coffee. Then you eat a lot of junk but tell yourself it is ok because you are training “really hard”.
Why do we think this way?
Probably the reason behind this kind of thinking is the “energy in/energy out” equation. Or maybe it is that we have been told that to lose weight we just need to “move more and eat less”.
The problem is that is it impossible to accurately trade one thing for the other. We all tend to under -estimate what we eat and over- estimate how hard we train. It is likely that we burn about as much energy as is contained in a banana during a session. We certainly do not burn the hundreds of calories that we imagine. Also consider that when we do strength exercises or HIIT (high intensity exercise) we continue burning calories at a higher rate than usual for some time after the training session. How could we possibly measure that against the food we consume?
Exercise and good nutrition have many benefits
As well as being inaccurate it is not helpful to constantly be trading one thing off against the other. Exercise as punishment and eating food as a reward is not a helpful way to frame your thinking.
Exercise is a positive thing. It stands alone and has so many benefits for our health – our heart health, our joints, our skin, our sense of well being, our brains. It is not just a means to “burn calories” or to get into shape.
Similarly with our eating and drinking – the reasons for following a healthy diet go well beyond maintaining a healthy weight. We should be eating to fuel our body with all the right nutrients to keep it working and in tip top condition. We should be eating what we need not what we have “earned”.
Aim high with both
Try to keep exercise and nutrition separate. Aim high with both rather than using one to make up for the other all the time. It is a much more positive way to live your life. Be active and eat well. If there are times when you are not active or when you overeat just get back on track. Once you start to remove the link between diet and exercise you will enjoy training more and be able to treat yourself without guilt or bad feelings.