It’s ok, I workout

That phrase is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to diet and health.  Sadly, this attitude is becoming more and more prominent and it is a very slippery slope towards poor health.  Just within this past week I have heard those words in passing at least twice and I know numerous others who have adopted this mindset.  I will admit that I have fallen victim to this way of thinking a few times. It’s so easy to justify certain things when you work hard, but in the long run it will just pull you right back down the way you came.

There is no sugar coating the truth so I will just come right out and say it, you will never out exercise a bad diet.  It’s just not going to happen.  I know it might seem totally fine at the moment.  You’re telling yourself, I am in great shape and I eat what I want!  I put in the time at the gym so I don’t have to worry about that piece of pie after dinner.  I’ll just burn it off later.  The thing is that while you might be in great shape and a healthy weight right now, that poor diet will catch up with you.  You might start to see the pounds creep back up, or worse you might find out you have a serious medical issue, like diabetes.  There has been a shocking increase in the cases of diabetes not just in the overweight but in the seemingly healthy.  This article talks about young 20-somethings who seemed to be in perfectly good health and exercised regularly but found out they had diabetes.  One thing that struck me was that they all said they might not always eat the best but they exercised regularly.  The food you put into your body is SO important.  It is the fuel that will drive you, and if it is junk fuel, you are not going to go very far and you will break down at some point.

The other fact is that most of us don’t exercise enough or at such an intense level to justify eating more food.  Most exercise sessions burn a smaller amount of calories than you think.  Eating a doughnut after a run pretty much undoes the work you just put in (this website is neat and helps you to roughly estimate the amount of calories you burn doing a certain activity).  If you have a problem with snacking, this is also really dangerous territory.  Sure, at first it might just be a bite of something.  But that can quickly turn into a small piece or am extra helping and then you’re justifying eating whole meals just because you went to Zumba two days ago.  Trust me I know how easy it is to fall into that bad habit but think of it this way: You are not a dog.  Do not reward yourself with food.

The thing is, if you are trying to be healthier and are putting in the work by logging gym time and exercising, why wouldn’t you do the same with your food?  Being healthy isn’t just taking one area and improving it, it’s an all-encompassing process.  Exercise is really important, but so is eating well and taking care of yourself.  You want to feel your best in body, mind and spirit and to do so you have to take ALL the steps to get there and not use the guise of exercise to keep a poor diet.  In the end, you’re only hurting yourself.