Are you exercising to eat?

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eating&exercise

“Because fitness is not a punishment, it’s a privilege” – Neghar Fonooni

 

I remember a time (in the not so distant past) that I logged calories in and calories out.  Basically I would workout so I could eat.  I did my morning workout, entered it into my handy dandy program, then I would plan my day accordingly based upon the calories I burned and what this program said I could have.  Of course, the more I exercised, the more calories I could consume.  Some days I would get off track and then I would feel I needed to add another workout just so I could eat dinner without guilt.  eat-exercise

Have you ever been caught in this trap?  Or maybe you’re in it right now?  Certainly no judgement on plans where you count calories and all that, but for me, it became bondage.  I couldn’t eat unless I went to the computer, and logged it into my program to see if I had “earned” that food….whether it was lean chicken or dessert.  I never listened to my body when it came to eating or exercise.  It was all about the numbers.  

Feeling pain in my hamstring signaling a strain?  So what.  I’ll deal with that later.  I MUST log these miles, or I can’t eat today.  

A piece of bread sounds good with my grilled chicken salad for dinner, but first I have to see if it fits into my macros.  

Everybody is going out for ice cream after dinner, but I don’t have any calories left.  Can’t eat that….not even a small vanilla cone.  No Sir!  

While I love running and my daily exercise, this type of “plan” was not freeing for me.  I was doing multiple workouts a day not because of a special event I was training for or even for the joy of a bike ride on a nice summer day, it was all about being able to eat without guilt.  

This madness had to stop!  

Exercise is supposed to be freeing.  It’s a privilege to move our bodies and see them at work.  To feel strong when we lift heavy things and feel accomplished when we cross that finish line.  

Food is supposed to be for our nourishment.  It is supposed to be enjoyed and savored.  

I stopped logging calories.  I stopped logging minutes running and riding. (This was so hard!)  I began to listen to my body. (This is a hard practice too!)  I focused on quality workouts over quantity.  I focused on fueling my body with food that gave me energy.  I also had food for pure enjoyment, but I didn’t overindulge (most of the time!).  

How about you?  Do you view exercise as punishment?  Do you exercise so you can eat?  Do you restrict calories if you don’t exercise?  

Believe me, I still struggle with these tendencies.  On days when I do a shorter workout or only lift or only do yoga, I struggle with a bit of anxiety around eating.  I have to remind myself that I’m not going to be as hungry on days my workouts aren’t as intense.  I just have to listen.  But I do have to fuel and be intentional on how I do it.  It’s still a work in process for me.  (I could write A LOT about this topic!)

So why not…..

  • Find an exercise that you truly enjoy doing?
  • Eat things that are beneficial for your body for strength and energy?
  • Be a detective and figure out how your body responds to various amounts and combinations of food and exercise and then HONOR that?

 

What about you?  Is this something you’ve ever struggled with?  Exercising to eat?  

 

6 thoughts on “Are you exercising to eat?

  1. I think it’d hard to exercise to eat because you don’t really know how many calories you’re burning. There are margins of error in HRMs. As far as the databases in tracking programs such as MFP I don’t even know how they come up with the calories burned by the various exercises. You and your neighbor may do the same exercise but one of you burns more calories than the other. The whole concept of exercising to eat just doesn’t make sense to me.

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  2. Yep, this was so me! I realized a while ago that I run to eat, I don’t eat to run. Last year I went sugar free for 2 months and realized that I couldn’t just eat whatever I wanted after a workout – I needed to just eat things that made me feel good and not do the whole calories in/calories out thing.

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  3. Good points! I was never one for exercising to eat each day. When I first started running I exercised to lose the baby weight, but after that was accomplished, I did it for fun. Running does make you feel better after eating a donut or ice cream, but I never really let it get to me to the point where I said, oh I ate this, now I have to go run.

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