My guess is that many of you have and are still attempting something that just won’t work because as hard as you try, you cannot exercise away a bad diet. And, oh how I’ve tried, every which way I could think of.

I’ve had personal training clients show up for a session after doing cardio for 60-minutes. I’ve watched them take a group fitness class after our tough, 50-minute training. Because they love to workout so much? Because they have so much extra time in the day? Once in a while, because they feel on fi-yah and want to really push their boundaries or because they are training for a race. Once in a while.

Confession time. Back in the 80’s, I was an aerobics instructor that loved teaching but I also taught more classes than I really wanted to. (There were a lot of us and probably still are.) Unfortunately, I didn’t put the same effort into my nutrition.  I remember one incidence when I was working as a communications coordinator for our local chamber of commerce. We had just finished a day-long workshop at our office and there was a leftover box of donuts in the conference area. I was the last one to leave. I had a good lunch but I’m a (now, under control) sugar addict and emotional eater and at the time I had no tools or knowledge (or awareness) of how to control it. I walked by the box about 10 times, pulling pieces off various donuts with each passing. Eventually, I ate three glazed donuts in a row. Three. Glazed. Doughnuts. I then ran off to teach my high-low class at the YMCA and stayed an hour longer on the treadmill to “exercise away a bad diet.” What a way to live.

How many of you have tried to lose weight by starting a workout routine and then adding to the time, days, intensity or all of the above because you still can’t drop enough pounds or cut body fat? Complete frustration, often leading to more exercise and usually super low calorie days (complete disaster).  I could address all of these separately but today is about approaching your workouts from the right perspective.

Exercise for the right reasons –  beyond weight loss and maintenance. Easier said than done? Not really. Stay with me and for many of you, you’re already there – and, congratulations!  Move your body as a gift to yourself and for those you care about. Exercise to release endorphins. Exercise to release stress. Exercise to feel alive, energized and empowered; strong, fast, limber, connected, whatever. Exercise in a way that works for your body (and mind). Exercise to correct imbalances or flaws. Exercise to compete at your highest level. Exercise to test and push yourself past physical and mental boundaries. Exercise to have fun and be social. Increase intensity or duration when your body tells you it’s right – when you’re in the zone and feel unstoppable and yes, when you have excess calories to burn off from a decadent weekend or for a specific goal. And, of course, exercise to help you lose weight and maintain but exercise is not a punishment for what you have eaten. We are the privileged – those of us who get to move and choose how we do it. I especially appreciate this in my 50’s since I battle disc issues and chondromalacia. Perhaps just changing your perspective on exercise will motivate you to get at it or stay with it.

As far as weight loss, dial in your nutrition. Stop making excuses and learn how to manage your weight with what you put in your mouth so you can look forward to your workouts and keep them in balance for the rest of your life. I lost 8.2 pounds during our 21 day detox. My husband lost 23. The only exercise we did was light walking. That’s what proper nutrition does for you. Killing yourself in the gym will not yield the same results if you’re eating crap all the time, and like I mentioned earlier, I speak from experience. And, for Pete’s Sake, throw away any leftover boxes of doughnuts before you get overtaken by the sugar demons.

Just curious, have you done a marathon workout session after eating or drinking too much or gone excessive in the gym because your weight won’t budge? Did I move or inspire you to restructure your diet and exercise rationale? Hope so.