The Biggest Weight Loss Lie

woman standing on scale
Lisa S./

“Working out helps you lose weight”…

This is how gyms sell memberships. It’s how personal trainers get clients. It’s how the fitness industry generates money.

Working out has many benefits…

It’s a great way to release stress.

It’s a great way to spark creativity.

It’s a great way to manage depression.

And long-term it makes you physically stronger, boosts your endurance/stamina and even helps you build more muscle mass.

However when it comes to weight loss, things get a bit more complicated. Exercising regularly doesn’t directly translate into weight loss. Here are a couple of considerations…

There are those who exercise regularly yet never lose weight because their diet sucks. Or they have an unhealthy relationship with food. When I hear a fitness expert telling an obese person to start working out I get annoyed.

That’s the last thing an obese person needs to do…

First they need to figure out how they became obese. Are they engaging in emotional eating? Are they making bad lifestyle choices? Are they using food for entertainment rather than nutrition? Do they have a medical condition that needs to be addressed?

Then they need to clean up their diet. This is tough and takes a long time. But that’s the quickest way to actually lose weight. It’s also sustainable. Once eating healthy is a habit, it’s easy to keep the weight off.

And finally, after addressing those issues, they can consider working out.

But what about the calories you burn when you exercise? Doesn’t burning calories help you lose weight?

When you exercise you expend energy. You do burn calories. However it leaves you feeling more hungry. So you tend to eat more food and consume more calories to make up for the deficit. It’s your body’s natural way of balancing itself out. And even if you maintain the caloric deficit, your body eventually gets used to it and plateaus.

Also most people stick to the same type of workouts. Initially they might get some weight loss results. However long-term their body starts getting used to those workout activities. And their results start plateauing. To break through a plateau they have to do tougher or longer workouts. This can work temporarily. However it isn’t sustainable long-term. Over-training often leads to injury and can even cause health problems.

I’m not saying exercise is bad. I regularly workout and really enjoy it. However if you’ve got a lot of weight to lose then exercise shouldn’t be your priority. Try to figure out how you became overweight in the first place. What choices or actions lead you there? And then focus on cleaning up your diet.