In recent articles we’ve been talking about New Year Resolutions. We’ve already covered how to write them and also long-term vs. short-term goals. In this article we’re going to take a look at the exercise in a New Year Resolution.
A successful resolution must include exercise. Is it possible to lose weight through dieting alone? Yes. Is it possible to maintain a lower weight through dieting alone? Again, the answer is yes. But is weight loss through dieting a healthy weight loss? Probably not. Let’s look at why.
The #1 reason why dieting alone will not lead to a healthy weight for life is that when we diet without exercising (specifically, resistance exercise) up to 50% of the weight we lose will be muscle mass. Now, this will vary from person to person based on genetics, age, sex, hormone levels, etc. but an average is that 1/2 of the weight we lose on that crash diet is from muscle loss.
Why does that matter? Well, there’s a lot of reasons. Here are just two:
1) Muscle is more dense than fat (takes up less space), so losing muscle vs. losing only fat means that while the weight may come off the inch loss will be slower. Losing five pounds of fat will make us lose more inches (size) than losing 2 pounds of fat and 3 pounds of muscle.
2) Another reason why losing muscle is bad is that muscle is the fat-burning furnace of the body. It’s a well-documented fact that 1 pound of muscle burns about 50 calories more each day than 1 pound of fat. Muscle is an active part of the body, generating movement and burning fat. On the other hand, fat is really just a storage unit for excess calories. Fat doesn’t do much of anything, and therefore doesn’t burn calories like muscle. So, every time we lose 1 pound of muscle we are forcing our body to burn fewer calories each day.
As we age, we all lose some muscle naturally. That’s a fact we can’t change. But why speed things up by dieting without exercising? Muscle helps us balance, protects our bones, makes us look lean and firm, gives us strength for life, and burns calories.
So it’s easy to see that our New Year Resolution should include exercise and not just dieting. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the reason many (most?) people fail with their New Year Weight Loss Resolution is that they don’t include exercise. It seems easier to try yet another diet, hoping that this year will be different.
Well, now we know the facts! The facts are that dieting without exercise (specifically, resistance exercise) will lead to muscle loss. Losing muscle means that we are burning fewer calories each day, and burning fewer calories each day means that it’s harder to lose weight.
This process of going on a crash diet, losing muscle, putting the weight back on, going on another crash diet, losing more muscle, and so on is known as yo-yo dieting. It’s the reason why so many New Year Weight Loss Resolutions will fail this year.
Let’s be different. Let’s be smart. Let’s exercise!
Tracie Johanson is the founder of Pick Up The Pace, a 30-minute exercise studio for women focusing on fitness, health and nutrition for maximum weight loss. Please visit http://www.letspickupthepace.com/ for more information.