Calories in, calories out. This little equation sounds like such a simple solution to weight loss. However, this vast oversimplification has greatly complicated our relationship with all kinds of physical movement. In the end, this equation has lowered the ability of exercise to help with sustaining a healthy weight.
Why? Because it leaves too many people feeling like they need to push their body in order to burn more calories to make the scale move. I often hear of people suffering through an exercise program in order to someday feel better. This unnecessary suffering through exercise, only leads to lowered motivation. The long-term problem is that it makes it much harder to pick yourself up to start exercising again once you get off track. You can end up caught between dreading exercise yet knowing you need it to burn those calories.
Between a rock and a hard place is no easy place to live.
Since calorie burning is vastly unpredictable, person to person and day to day, one part of this simple equation is not reliable. Even though this equation is not the solution to weight loss, it is continually promoted in the way the media talks about exercise.
The bottom line is, you want to lose weight because you care about yourself. If you didn’t care, you would not be trying to lose weight. When exercise is about tricking your body, pushing it to exhaustion or ignoring pain all to burn more calories, we can easily forget that this whole effort is about self care.
So, I invite you to wipe that whole calorie burning thing out of your mind. Instead, design exercise to be a time in your day that you take care of your body. Whether it is in several small bouts each day or one longer bout, do it with full focus on taking care of your body. Not to burn calories, or just “get it done”, but with the intention of taking care of your body.
Admittedly, this is a big challenge. This mindset about exercise and calorie burning is pretty strong. It will not be easy to let go of the idea you need exercise to burn as many calories as you can each day.
The reality is though, research shows over and over that self-criticism drains motivation and self-kindness leads to lasting motivation. This mindset shift about exercise from a way to burn more calories and fix your body, to a way to take care of your body, makes motivation much easier and that simplifies this whole process!
The ability to simplify means to
eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak
Keep Moving, Be Well,