As a personal trainer one of the most frustrating things I deal with is the overwhelming emphasis on exercise to lose weight. When it comes to reaching a healthy weight, how you eat is much, much more important. While physical activity is useful in reducing the risk of developing heart disease, dementia and other conditions, it does not promote weight loss like people think. Many people are drowned by unhelpful messages about maintaining a healthy weight through calorie counting and exercise. These same people believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise. This is the false perception that the food industry would like you to believe.

Going to the gym to hit your goal weight is not good and may be dangerous.  Not just physically but also mentally. If your main concern was your looks and you got the ones you wanted, your desire to maintain them and continue with an exercise program may actually decrease. This leads you to gain your weight again and that’s where the yo-yo dieting cycle begins. 

People wrongly believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise. I am not saying don’t exercise. Exercise is vital for overall good health. The benefits of exercise are well documented, the fact is that most people exercise for vanity reasons, not primarily for health. Weight control and looks top the list of almost every person working out in the gym these days. Sure, everyone doing it says they are doing it to be healthier, but most people secretly just want that six-pack. It’s difficult to seriously change the way you look through exercise alone. If exercising alone could produce weight loss, we’d be a whole lot skinnier as a nation and those success stories would be far more common. Exercise is a good way to keep weight off; however, it’s not a good way to lose it.

Lets bust the myth of physical activity and obesity and prove you cannot outrun a bad diet. One pound of fat is 3,500 calories so to burn 1lb of fat you’d need to run about 38 miles!! That’s more than the Chevron Houston Marathon. Also think about it this way: If an overweight person is consuming 1,000 more calories than he is burning and wants to be in an energy balance, he can do it by exercising. Thirty minutes of jogging or swimming might burn off 350 calories. Many people, fat or fit, can’t keep up a strenuous 30-minute exercise regimen, day in and day out. They might exercise a few times a week, if that. Or they could achieve the same calorie reduction by eliminating two sodas each day. Of course, both together would be even better.

Research has proven that exercise increases one’s appetite. After all, when you burn off calories being active, your body will often signal you to replace them. Therefore over time people who exercise also increasing their calorie intake. People also have a tendency to reward themselves with treats after exercise. They have the “I’ve been to the gym, so I can eat what I want” mentality.

Fitness is marketed toward young people; however, older people move into nursing homes because they cannot do a half rep of a body weight squat.  So they have to have someone take care of them.  If you want a healthy body then it needs to be maintained. If you don’t maintain your car, there is an increased possibility that it will stop working. Similarly, if you don’t exercise your body, it will slowly stop working the way that you want it to. So when someone says they are too old to do something the reason why they cannot is only because they are not strong and fit enough to do it. Their inactive life style has decreased their ability to do so.  It is not age that stops you. It’s the inability to use your muscles properly. Exercise will help you maintain the function of your muscles. Staying strong and maintaining muscle and following proper nutrition is going to help you live better and longer.  Especially as you get older. 

The definition of physical perfection doesn’t exist. When a person goes to the gym they need to go seeking personal excellence. Personal excellence has nothing to do with vanity. There are countless men and women who don’t look “perfect” but are faster, tougher, stronger and fitter than some of these more vain and thinner exercisers could ever hope to be. Since they have better fitness they can do things in life like rock wall climbing, skiing, 5Ks, and most importantly play with their kids

People who are obsessive about fitness are chasing that look. Fitness is seen as abs, chest, nice derriere, and for that perfect picture to post on social media.  Fitness is seen from a vanity standpoint. However, that is not what really matters. That is not what fitness and exercise is for. Exercise and fitness is for building and using your muscle to keep your body moving for years to come.  It is so people can enjoy life, get around, and do things on their own.  It should be about improving your daily life so that you are able to climb the stairs in your own house, go grocery shopping all by your self, and open that jar of olives. Most importantly, so when you get older you do not have to live in a nursing home and not just be alive but still being able to live and enjoy your life.