They say you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, and I suppose that in a way, this is true. But in my case, I’ve found the opposite to be truer: you can’t out-diet a sedentary lifestyle. At least I can’t.
I’ve never had a particularly poor diet, with the exception of my year in Boston and the brief time in Texas between Boston and Wisconsin. At the time, I was dealing with severe grief and PTSD triggers, depression and anxiety and panic attacks, and I developed a binge-eating disorder for a time. Additionally, I started drinking way too much alcohol. Both of those issues have become almost non-existent over the last two years. My diet is generally good again, with most of it coming from whole foods. I rarely eat fast food, choose well at restaurants, have cut back a lot on sugar, keep good track of my calories and macronutrients, and generally have good portions at my meals. It’s not perfect of course, but I do fine. And I do well enough that even on sedentary days, I have a calorie deficit 95% of the time.
Here’s where the crux comes in for me. I can count calories religiously and keep a deficit going daily, but if I’m sedentary for long stretches of the day, I’m not going to lose weight. If I go out for a walk in the morning, then watch TV the rest of the day, I’m not going to lose weight even if my calories give me a 500-cal deficit each day. On the other hand, if I don’t do any traditional exercise, but I’m up and moving through the day, I’ll lose regardless of whether or not I have a daily deficit. This holds true even if I just get up twice an hour to swap laundry or unload the dishwasher or whatever. I won’t lose fast that way, without traditional exercise, but I will lose.
So for me, the best combination involves traditional exercise, followed by general movement throughout the day so that I’m never sedentary. It also involves continuing to eat a healthy-but-reasonable diet. In order to keep myself from over-eating, and from being sedentary all day, I have to carefully choose my traditional exercise. Anything too strenuous or wearing will cause the hunger monster to explode and my body to just be too tired to do anything else the rest of the day. (No interval training or heavy weight lifting for me!) Decent sleep is obviously very important as well, because insomnia tends to make me both hungry and too tired to move/exercise. Stupid chronic insomnia! (Sleep study coming this coming Sunday!)
All that sounds far easier than it is to actually do, of course, or I’d have this weight loss journey in the bag, heh. May has been a learning process. My sedentary life this month – binge-watching TV and not doing nearly as much exercise as usual – has lead to stagnation in my health, and I’m sick of it. It’s time for action again. Movement, not rest.