Why It’s Easy to Gain, but Hard to Lose Weight

This week marks eight weeks since I began my daily exercise routine, including intensive weight lifting and more intensive cardio than I’d been doing prior to joining my local gym. Yay for me!

I am pleased with the level of progress I have made thusfar, but I admit that I’m impatient sometimes, particularly with my weight. However, I am LESS focused on my weight these days than I am on the overall gains I am making, which include a smaller waist, much better muscle tone, and a higher level of personal health.

Yes, it’s a journey to achieve the goals I have set for myself, but it’s a journey of health well worth the investment that can include a massive payoff … such as a longer life, with a higher quality of life.

These days, my weekly routine is Mon/Tues I do upper body weight lifting, Wed is a cardio day, Thurs/Fri I do lower body lifting, Saturday is a cardio day and Sunday I determine how I feel. If I feel I need a full day of rest for my recovery, I take a rest day. If I have a lot of energy, I do lighter cardio on that day.

Today, being Wednesday, I had a cardio day. I started by doing exercise on the elliptical machine, then I moved on to the stair master. Of all the machines in the gym, I have personally found the stair master to be the most challenging. On the positive side, the stair master burns a LOT of calories, on the challenging side, after doing 30 minutes of the stair master I have to be very careful to ensure I am eating properly that day to replenish my energy.

Speaking of energy, calorie intake represents energy I take in from food. Burning calories at the gym represents the energy I expend in exercise.

It’s extremely simplistic, but if I burn 300 calories … as I did today in my cardio workout … and I eat the 1400 calories I’ve set for myself each day, then I’m contributing to my goal of losing weight since my net calories that day would be 1100 calories. Alternatively, if I ate 1700 calories (which I didn’t) I would still net out to 1400 calories today since I expended 300 calories at the gym by doing rigorous hard exercise for an hour.

But for anyone reading this blog who is sitting on their couch and thinking, oh, if you’re exercising it’s easy to lose weight… think again.

I’ll say this again… I spent an hour doing rigorous, heart pounding exercise at the gym today and I burned 300 calories. I was dripping with sweat when I was done.

300 calories is NOT MUCH.

A single, medium sized banana has 105 calories. It is very easy to eat a banana, and consume those 105 calories. Conversely, burning off those same 105 calories takes a LOT of effort.

While I was exercising, I was thinking about people who eat all kinds of stuff everyday. Oh, they might think, I want a slice of apple pie, and I’m eating salad otherwise. Oh yeah? That ONE SLICE of apple pie is 300 calories. Is that same person prepared to do an hour of heart pounding exercise to work off that slice of pie?

Every day that goes by, I do my best to tally my calorie intake in my head. This is something I’ve taught myself over time, that a whole egg is about 70 calories, but one egg white is about 25. A banana is about 100 calories, and I can eat as many raw cucumbers as I want. 🙂

I tally up the amount of protein I am taking in each day too, so that I’m doing my best to achieve my 46 grams of protein required and hopefully exceeding that.

My new trick, now that I’m back to eating eggs, is to consume 3 egg whites (18 grams of protein) plus my regular brown rice protein shake (24 grams of protein for the brown rice powder, 2 grams of protein for the almond milk = 26 grams). These two protein power houses, together give me 44 grams of protein a day and they contribute only about 325 calories to my daily intake, which still leaves me with over 1000 calories for veggies, fruits, grains and nuts. Thank goodness, 1000 calories of fresh food is very filling! I don’t worry about protein now the way I used to, because getting the 2 grams of protein I need to hit my minimum daily requirement is fine through whatever protein is in the remainder of the food I eat. I know I will easily exceed my daily requirement.

But my real point here is back to the idea of thinking about the food you are eating, and how it contributes to your health. If you are eating more calories each day than you are working off, you will gain weight. Your weight gain might be very slow, you may not notice it much until one day your pants feel tight and the scale (if you use one) says you are now 10 pounds heavier than you were a few months ago. Unfortunately, it is much easier to see that happen than to see the reverse.

However, if you are mindful of what you are putting in your body, and if you are exercising regularly, you have a great chance of either maintaining your weight and health, or improving it over time.

I wish everyone the best of health. Remember: it’s the smallest choices we make everyday that add up to the big picture.

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2 Responses

  1. Also don’t forget that we burn calories naturally just by being. And it helps to GET UP from your work desk as much as possible!

    • What you’ve said is true! There is a “resting” rate our bodies have called the Basal Metabolic Rate, and that’s the baseline. No matter what, even just laying in a bed and sleeping for 24 hours (which we wouldn’t do, obviously) our bodies burn calories. Not many, of course, but it takes energy for our bodies to “be alive.” 😀

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