I can remember some of my first attempts at hitting the gym on a regular basis.
I got a gym membership because my employer at the time paid half. It was a great benefit and certainly ahead of the curve at the time, almost 15 years ago. One of my co-workers had just had a baby and she also signed up for a membership to try to work off some of the baby weight.
Neither of us had a clue what we were doing. The last time I had lifted weights was in high school, when the coach spent most of his time with the athletes. The other girls in class and I sort of half did what we were supposed to and half sat around and gossiped. Back in the gym with no real structure, we did a few weight machines and spent some time on the Stairmaster. I don’t even know how long we actually were there that first time. I don’t think we cared. We were at the gym and that was something, right?
In fact it was such a good thing we felt we should reward ourselves for our hard work. How about the Olive Garden? Yes, ma’am pasta and breadsticks sounds like a great idea after a “hard” workout.
I can only shake my head at my own past flawed logic. I also know there are many other gym goers who still think the same thing. I see them at the shake bar with huge calorie dense smoothies or one of the giant muffins the gym recently started selling.
I can see the justification in their faces. I know I’ve worked hard, so I deserve this, they are telling themselves. Meanwhile all their work is slowly undone by excess fat and sugar. When they step on the scale a day or two later they just can’t figure out what the problem is. I’m working so hard, they think to themselves, why isn’t the number on the scale going down?
You can exercise all day long, but if you refuel with too much (of anything) you’re not going to see the results you want. You must balance calories in with calories out. Exercise is not and should not be a means to a reward.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking your workout equals a burger and fries or an iced coffee drink. Most people aren’t working out like Michael Phelps or Lance Armstrong. They are not burning thousands of calories.
Exercise is good for health and the calories burned will help you reach your fat loss goals. The key is to not use exercise as a justification for the foods you know aren’t good choices but want to consume anyway. Refuel post workout, but do it with a balanced and healthy choice.