Don’t diet more, enjoy exercise more.
Now, before we get started, for those trying to lose some weight, I am NOT saying you can completely ignore your diet. Obviously, you can’t expect to exercise a few times a week and then eat and drink absolutely anything you want in excess and expect to lose weight. That old mantra that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, whilst a little excessive, unfortunately, does hold some truth. However, for those that potentially might struggle with body confidence or struggle with consistency in exercise and diet, often what is underestimated is the importance of finding a type of exercise that you actually enjoy. A point that might seem obvious to some, but a factor that is often forgotten by many. A point that I would argue is more important for your mental and physical health than a specific diet plan or weight loss goal. Here’s why.
If you enjoy what you do, you’re more likely to stick with it - If you are absolutely hating life because you are going into the gym everyday and eating a certain way because someone on Instagram said so...change things up! If you don’t like what you are doing, you are unlikely to remain consistent with it. On the other hand, if you enjoy the type of exercise you do, you are likely to want to do more of it and be more consistent. Consequently, burning more calories and helping any weight loss goals you may have. Also, as you exercise more, you can afford to be a little less strict with your diet (again, within reason). Now, I’m not saying you should avoid everything you don’t like, a little discomfort is always good, but making it the focus of your training program is unlikely to lead to positive results. So, if you enjoy spin, do more spin, if you like lifting weights, lift more weights etc. Equally, if you enjoy the exercise you do and get into a good weekly exercise routine, you’d be surprised about how eating healthier and fuelling yourself with proper nutrition is a natural consequence of this initial lifestyle change.
If you enjoy what you do, you’re likely to care less about what you look like- Again, take this with a pinch of salt. Obviously, if you do suddenly develop a deep rooted love for cycling (or another sport where performance trumps appearance), this does not mean you will suddenly become completely disinterested in your physical appearance. What I mean is, trying to find a type of exercise or sport that you hope to improve at and then train to improve at, will become more of the focus. Consequently, having a certain size waist or number on the weighing scale could seem less important. Instead, your training will likely become focused around being fit for purpose, as will your diet, as you aim to fuel yourself and train to perform rather than to look a certain way. Just look at weightlifters, crossfitters, strongmen, footballers, boxers, runners, cyclists and many others; their bodies are a by-product of training for a specific sport rather than the sole focus. Again, once you start to see improvements in your sport of choice, you’ll likely feel so much better and more confident in yourself, more than dieting alone ever could.
Nowadays, we all want to look good, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, I do think that the pressure placed on us by social media to look a certain way and as a result to train a certain way, leaves more and more people open to feelings of insecurity and potential mental and physical struggles. Ultimately, I think it’s important to enjoy what we do - not because someone else said so, but because we actually enjoy it. So try and find what that specific type of exercise is and the rest, more often than not, will take care of itself.
By Luca Samara