Why Exercise Alone Won’t Cut It

When it comes to Weight Loss, What goes in your mouth matters most

There is a reason why people like personal trainers more than nutritionists. I think no one minds being told that they need to exercise more. They even appreciate someone showing them one-on-one how to exercise and physically being there to make sure they show up and actually workout.

However, no one likes to be held accountable for what they put in their mouths. Most people do not want to deal with the fact that that almost all of us as some time or other eats for reasons other than to properly fuel and nourish our bodies. People eat for many reasons, ranging from boredom, loneliness and stress to pleasing others at social gatherings.

As someone who is both a registered nutrition professional and personal trainer, I realized early on that in terms of life-long weight loss, changing one’s relationship with food is by far the most significant factor. People rather would much rather read an article that tells them they can have a flat stomach in ‘five easy moves’ or hear that all they have to do to lose weight is start exercising or exercise more.

Sometimes honesty isn’t very popular. In being honest, I don’t claim that exercise alone will result in life-long weight loss. Exercise alone simply won’t be what helps the majority of people reach their goal weight.

It is really all about calories in, calories out. (Yes, I know, certain health conditions and hormones, such as thyroid and an imbalance in female hormones, may interfere with one’s metabolism and affect calorie burning). However, ultimately, even for a person with a healthy metabolism, it’s very difficult to ‘burn off’ excess calories through exercise alone if you are over-eating.

Please don’t get me wrong. I do not miss strength training or cardio workouts, and if I do, I make them up later in the week, somewhere, somehow. Exercise is necessary for optimal health. However, the truth is that when it comes to fat loss, there are only so many calories a person can burn in physical activity. Another daunting aspect of this physical activity equation is: the smaller a person is (the less s/he weighs), the fewer calories s/he burns compared to a larger person doing the same activity at the same speed and intensity.

Below is a website that will allow you to become honest with how many calories you can burn in various activities. The site shows you by weight how many calories you burn doing different activities, everything from napping and walking to dusting and sex.


Now for a reality check: a 150-pound person would need to walk at a pace of 3.5 miles per hour for 60 minutes to burn only 240 calories. That’s two peanut butter cups. The same person running a fast pace of 8 miles per hour would burn 459 calories in 30 minutes. There is double that amount of calories in your average restaurant serving of chicken, rice and vegetables. The same person playing completive soccer for 30 minutes non-stop would burn only 340 calories. The calories half in a pint of premium ice cream has at least 500 calories on average.

I am not going to tell you how many calories a 150 lb. person burns having sex. If you go on the site to calculate yours, be aware that you will have to put in the intensity – light, moderate or vigorous – and how many minutes! [Yes, I admit, that was a sneaky attempt to get you to research your calories burned, but if it works to raise your awareness, I’ve done my job.]

By the way, simply knowing your calories burned in physical activity isn’t going to help you lose body fat unless you know how many calories you are eating. To lose body fat, you need to keep a food log and look- up the calories on food labels and in websites such as myfitnesspal.com and calorieking.com. There is a free food log on my website (essentialfitness.us) and free on-online food logs on these websites. Only by keeping a detailed food log will you be accountable and see what you are consuming compared to what you are burning in physical activity. Also, remember: 70% of your calorie needs are for basic body functions at rest. Only 25-30% of your calories are used in physical activity.

Making changes in life are challenging for everyone. Take the first step to life-long weight loss by a creating a system which keeps you accountable for what you put in your mouth.

Oh, yes… and don’t forget to exercise, too!

About Romy Nelson
Owner and operator of Essential Fitness, Inc., Romy is a nutritionist, media consultant and author. Her main goal is to teach individuals how to make long-term lifestyle changes, and break free from unhealthy eating patterns and the cycle of yo-yo dieting

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