What does it mean to you when I say exercise? Do you see it as a form of punishment? As in, a negative to counteract the food you ate for dinner last night? Or do you see exercise as a form of development – a positive to push your body to new heights?
Unfortunately, too many people today look at exercise as the former. It’s looked at as something we HAVE TO DO to negate any harmful effects from a poor diet. As a trainer, this is a frustrating construct to work around. So many people, CrossFitters included, think that their answer to solving weight loss issues is to exercise more. So they ramp up their exercise but see no results. This inevitably ends with the practitioner blaming the fitness routine for not working, when really their diet is all to blame.
Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the exerciser, this is like saying your stove is broken because it did a bad job of cleaning your dishes. Well, we have a dishwasher for cleaning, and we understand that the two appliances serve very different functions.
Today I am hoping to enlighten all of the many practitioners who think their weight loss issues will be solved by exercise, and to do that I am going to explain what exercise is INTENDED for, so that you can hopefully start to develop a better relationship with exercise. To start, I will clarify that it is possible to improve your weight issues with exercise, just as it is possible to clean your oven by turning the heat on high and letting everything disintegrate. It works, but it is hardly the best way to do it.
So what is the real function of exercise? The real function of exercise is to push your body and to develop an increase in fitness. Whether that is through cardio, weightlifting, or any specific training methodology, exercise is intended to be a path to improvement. The key distinguisher is the “path to improvement” part. If you have no end goal in sight, or no progressive plan to keep you moving forward, you’ll inevitably get bored and stop.
What we HAVE TO DO is stop looking at exercise as a means for depleting calories. It’s good to know how many calories you are burning SO THAT you can adjust your nutrition properly, but exercising for the sole purpose of burning calories, is again, like cleaning your dishes with the stove – totally an incorrect use of the practice.
Honestly, we shouldn’t need to exercise to get our weight under control. You can be at a totally healthy weight and healthy BMI with no exercise at all, assuming your diet is under control. The purpose of exercise, as stated, is to develop your fitness – to build muscle, to increase your cardio and to improve your mental toughness.
If you are someone who has a bad relationship with exercise, I truly hope you heed the words I’ve written. Please understand that exercise is an amazing tool to improve your body, not to punish it. The only way to truly counteract a poor diet is to clean it up. Better yet, use it as a tool to fuel your exercise.