The Facts On
Exercise and Weight Loss

Most Common Weight Loss Mistakes
Exercise and Weight Loss: Overestimating Effects of Exercise

exercise guy balance

I'd like to share a conversation I had with a client recently. I'll call her Michelle.

She came to me for weight loss help, frustrated that despite regular exercising and healthy eating, she was struggling to shed weight.

Michelle described herself as "a regular exerciser..."

She goes to the gym three times a week...

...and exercises for 30 minutes each time. She never misses her 3 days in the gym.

"So you exercise an hour and a half a week?" I confirmed after hearing about this regular exercise routine.

"Well, I guess that's the case...It certainly feels like more than that, given the time it takes to get ready, drive to the gym, and then shower when I'm done."

"How many calories do you think you burn in 1 1/2 hours of exercise?" I asked.

Michelle said, "Wow, I have no idea. A few thousand, at least."

I got out my calculator and did some handy calculations based on her particular exercise and intensity. (I can do this for you, me for professional help!)

I estimated she was expending ~750 calories per week as a result of her regular exercise schedule.

We had to go over a very basic principle

Exercise and Weight Loss: In order to lose one pound of body fat, you have to create a 3500 calorie deficit. (That means you have to burn 3500 more calories than you eat.)

Michelle's "regular" exercise routine was creating a 750 calorie deficit per week. At that rate, it would take her almost 5 weeks to lose just one pound. (She'd have to burn 500 calories per day, in order to lose 1 pound per week.) Imagine her frustration!

She knew exercise and weight loss were supposed to go hand in hand, but Michelle didn't feel she was seeing the results she deserved on the scale.

Do enough moderate intensity exercise and weight loss will follow

After our discussion, Michelle realized it made perfect sense why she wasn't losing weight as she thought she should. She never considered how big a number 3,500 really is, and how many long, hard exercise sessions it takes to total that big of a deficit.

We developed a plan for her to increase her exercise routine while at the same time making some slight adjustments in her nutrition. Before she knew it, the pounds started to shed.

Now don't get me wrong...

...exercising 30 minutes 3x/week is certainly a step in the right direction...

...especially if you're not exercising at all!

But here's what I want you to take away from all this:

Don't overestimate the effects of exercise on weight loss results.

Also keep in mind that just going to a gym doesn't guarantee you're expending massive calories. If you wander aimlessly around the gym socializing, do a few half-hearted crunches on the mat, then head off to the showers...

Are you making any more of the most common weight loss mistakes?

Avoid Getting TOO Hungry
Consider Alcohol Calories
Eat Sloooooowly
Eat Plenty of Fruits
Eat Enough Vegetables
Exercise FOR REAL
Get Enough Water
Kick "Quick" Weight Loss
Know What's On Your Plate
Quit Eating Haphazardly
Practice Portion Control

...and follow this same routine 3x/week while considering yourself someone who "works out regularly," you may want to think again!

(There's a phrase that personal trainers use to describe their workout-eager clients: Gym Rats! There's another phrase they use to describe their less committed clients: Gym Brats!)

Now, don't let this discussion lead to throwing your hands up in the air in despair and thinking "Why bother?!" Any little bit you move and exercise is good...just be honest with yourself about

  1. how many hours/week you actually put in
  2. how hard you work yourself during those hours, and
  3. the results you expect from that work

Read more on exercise and weight loss, including resources to find out about the kind of workout that might be perfect for you.

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