Crime and punishment: Food and exercise

Feb 04, 2014
Tagged with: Crime and punishment: Food and exercise

If you’ve been reading my latest blog posts you know that I am on a journey to get to my healthiest possible weight. Despite my involvement in the health and fitness industry for the past 7 years, I’ve had a recent reality check on food consumption and its effect on weight.

I believe there is a very skewed idea of the relationship between exercise, weight loss, and food. When I was a college athlete I was working out 9 times per week at very high intensities, I had a lot of lean muscle mass and very high resting metabolism. I could, when I had time, eat almost anything I wanted. One of my old teammates and I were reminiscing the other day about breakfast after our weekday workouts: waffles with peanut butter, hash browns, eggs, chocolate milk and a bagel to go for later…yikes! Let’s just say its been a tough transition back to real world eating the last 5 years.

Yes, 5 years post-college athlete, I still forget that I can’t eat whatever I want. But in the back of my mind, there’s a little voice that says, “of course you can have a brownie, you worked out today!” This mentality I believe is the biggest pit-fall of weight maintenance. There are two sides to it, you worked out so you can eat junk OR you ate junk so your punishment is to go workout. This relationship between exercise and food is a dangerous one with which I have recently been wrestling.

It doesn’t seem to make logical sense, but I’ve had to separate calories burned from calories consumed and start treating each food day the same. I used to only have dessert on running days and I always had a protein-rich meal on lifting days, but since I’ve started really tracking what I eat, I’ve started to see how quickly that can get out of balance.

I think the key to my success so far has been improving the consistency of my eating. I no longer change what I eat based on my exercise and I don’t change my exercise amount based on what I’ve eaten. I try to eat at similar times of the day with lots of fruits and veggies included and I have decreased my total amount of food consumed. I have kept my exercise consistent and added some more walking to my days. This saves me plenty of space for cheat nights like eating out with friends or enjoying rich snacks during the Super Bowl. Not using exercise as a punishment or using food as a reward for exercise is, I believe, a must-have for successful weight maintenance.

How do you balance food an exercise? Do you eat differently on days you exercise? I’d like to hear from you!


Author: Susan Silverman

  • bobl07

    I have this battle everyday. I am told since I workout a lot that I need to eat a lot. I try not to calorie count, but I do splurge when I have an intense exercise.

  • Carleton Rivers

    I too struggle with this from time to time. Even though I have been studying nutrition for what feels like FOREVER, I still have these kinds of battles in my head. My exercise these days is really just ballet class/rehearsal a few days a week. When I’m working on a really hard show, I feel so drained/famished afterwards that even with all of my nutrition knowledge I still want to just stuff my face so that I won’t feel lethargic anymore. What I think people forget is that we aren’t eating right and exercising just to keep our weight in check, we are doing it to feel our best and have our body work it’s best. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to eat right and exercise. And I know that if I can remember to refuel the right way, I’ll be that much stronger for my next rehearsal. Thanks for the reminder!

  • bobl07

    Sometimes I do just stuff my face with food knowing that it is not the best food to eat but I feel that I need to feed my appetite. What I fail to realize is that I am not fueling my body appropriately. It leaves feeling very tired the next day. Sometimes I justify it thinking that since I just worked out I can eat anything. What I need to realize is that you do not put premium gas in a Ferrari. Junk in is junk out.