Ya know what I can’t stand? Those stupid charts that start floating around this time of year telling us how long we have to torture ourselves at the gym in order to pay for our sins of eating some Halloween candy. They’re everywhere, created by probably well-meaning people who believe that we just DON’T KNOW that chocolate bars are high in calories, and if everyone would just share their Facebook post the obesity epidemic would be solved.
As a personal trainer you might think I’m the exact type of person who would be totally be sharing those pictures, warning everyone of the dangers of indulging in a mini kit kat.
But guess what? They’re stupid. For a few reasons…
The first, is that they’re completely inaccurate. How many calories you burn during exercise is completely dependent on you as a unique individual. How fit you are, your body weight, and even how fast you do it will all change the calories you burn per minute of activity. Who are these charts based on? who knows? Exercise is not simply a tool for burning calories from the extra food we eat. We can’t just increase our time on the treadmill to “burn off” weekend indulgences. Physical activity benefits every system in the body, and we should be doing regular exercise regardless of how many boxes of smarties we ate. Exercising just for the sake of “burning calories” turns exercise into a chore, which brings me to my second point…
The second, and even more important reason that trying to “work off” treats in the gym is ridiculous is that EXERCISE SHOULD NEVER BE SEEN AS PUNISHMENT. In my experience, this is the #1 reason why people don’t exercise. To them, exercise is hard, painful, and unpleasant. They over-indulge on the weekend, so back to the gym on Monday for a torture session. From a psychological perspective, this teaches the brain to want to AVOID activity! (obviously, right? I mean our brains are trying to look out for us, by making us want to avoid things that can harm us. So if every time we exercise we’re perceiving it as punishment and suffering, we will go to great lengths to not feel that way again!)
Instead, find an activity you actually enjoy, and that makes you feel great while doing it. Maybe it’s walking instead of running or perhaps you ditch the treadmill altogether and take a dance class with your friends. Yoga, Weights, Cycling, Swimming, Martial Arts, however you get your body moving is completely up to you. But remember, exercising at a pace that is right for you is the most important thing to find enjoyment in movement.
We should exercise at the fitness level we’re at, not the level we WANT to be at
Personally, I think mini chocolate bars are great. They come in perfect little portion-sizes for satisfy a little sweet craving. Most are less than 100 calories each, which is a nice amount for a little treat. Let’s face it, a 100% ZERO treat, no sugar ever diet is completely ridiculous and impossible. I know this because even the “no white sugar diet” people are forever trying to make their own versions of these treats with their agave, maple syrup, dates, etc (like it even matters). The issue that a lot of people run into is feeling like they can’t stop at one treat (or two, or seven). If this is you, and you often find yourself snacking in front of the TV, or in the car, while working, or when you feel stressed, bored, tired, or unhappy, then let’s be honest…..this isn’t really about the mini chocolate bars. This is called ’emotional eating’, and is the #1 thing I work on with my clients. It’s not too difficult to eat well when we are happy, organized, and prepared, it’s the times when things don’t go according to plan, we’re really busy and stressed, or something bad happens in our lives when we turn to food as comfort. Here are some tips to help:
So, go ahead and enjoy your Halloween (or Christmas, or Easter, or whenever-the-hell-you-want) treats, without feeling guilty or like you need to torture yourself at the gym in order to “pay” for what you’ve eaten. Exercise because you LIKE it, and it makes you feel good.
Do you need more help with emotional or mindless eating? Contact me today!