Diet is just not enough


TL; DR: If you understand weight loss as a small part of having a great body and a great life, exercise is not a corner you want to cut.

Some time ago, I learned diet is more important than exercise for weight loss. This impacted me. I even remember reading somewhere that doing exercise can make you gain weight because it makes you hungry.

Without going that far, there are numerous and reputed sources on the web in which you can read that diet is much more effective for weight loss than exercise, and if physical activity plays a role, it is small, for example:

I must confess that I bought the lie that I did not need to exercise. I thought people that went daily to the gym or were committed to any physical activity were kind of silly.

The internet has this thing, sometimes it can convince you of ideas that are just against common sense just by throwing some “recent studies show that…”.

If one of our parents asked their dad, “Hey papa, how can I have an impressive body?” The answer probably would be something like: “With lots of sweating, my dear”.

I thought I would stick to a low-calorie diet and have everybody amazed at how can I look so good without sweating. As you might have guessed, that did not work out.

To begin with, I could not even follow a low-calorie diet. Who can, when almost everything is loaded with calories? Bread, pasta, rice, pizza, burgers, soda, sandwiches, potatoes, cheese, mayo, fried chicken, chocolate, candies…

Sure, some days you can fetch yourself a nice salad, but in the long run, we live in a world full of delicious calories. This is the point where you think about cooking for yourself, which is very time demanding (especially if you live alone like me).

What about socializing with food? Are you going to be that person asking for a salad at a pizza place? Are you going to be the one slowly sipping fizzy water while everyone comments on how good the burgers are?

What about the idea that exercise makes you hungry so you end up eating more? This depends on multiple factors, but at least in my case, it is pure bullshit. Many people that have weight problems eat because of anxiety while watching TV or doing other sedentary activities. When you are running, biking, swimming, etc., just because you are busy you are a lot less likely to engage in anxiety eating. Also, if you do a demanding physical effort, isn’t it more likely that you will make more rational decisions regarding your diet, so you do not “waste” all that effort?

But please allow me to continue the path that took me to these conclusions. My weight did not decrease with just diet, and neither did the guilt that I felt each time I ate something caloric (nothing crazy, just common food).

But it does not end there, I’ve had some back problems in the latest years. Well, with my “no exercise” approach, they just got worse, to the point one day I could not even get up from bed. So being there on the floor at midnight, feeling almost disabled, being in my thirties, I realized my health strategy must be wrong.

I am not denying diet is more important than exercise for losing weight. If you eat a lot of junk food, probably you will get fat even with some exercise. What I realized is that dieting alone is not enough for weight loss. And while we are on it? Why are we obsessed only with weight loss? What are you actually aiming for? A nice-looking, healthy body or a skinny and weak one that barely moves the needle of the weight scale?

I mean, are you willing to let go of the bone, cardiac, circulatory, muscle gain, social, mental health, and sleep benefits of exercise just because “It does not burn a lot of calories?”.

Now I do a lot of walking, daily rope jumping, some yoga, and I lift light weights. This, along with a wannabe healthy diet, caused noticeable improvements to my appearance and overall health. And the best part is I still don’t publish a daily picture of myself in the gym.