The third element of healthy weight loss: the surprising truth about exercise

Image by Ayo Ogunseind via Unsplash

Image by Ayo Ogunseind via Unsplash

IIf you've read the first two parts of this series on healthy weight loss, you'll know that there are multiple factors (some you may not have even considered) that result in healthy, sustainable weight loss.

This element (#3) comes with a caveat: it is important to exercise to lose weight.


You will lose very little, or potentially no weight at all if you only exercise. Research shows that exercising three to five times a week has a positive impact on your metabolism, the kinds of food you crave, and how you process your calories.

HOWEVER, exercise alone will not contribute much to weight loss - you really need to implement other tactics, like eating clean, managing your hormone health and getting enough sleep to lose weight.

That being said, there are lots of ways to make your exercise work for you, and support your weight loss goals.

How to make your exercise count

Don't shy away from strength training

There's a common misconception that cardio is the only way to go for weight loss. While it's true that, calorie for calorie, you'll burn more running than you will pumping iron, there are some massive benefits to enhancing your strength while on a weight-loss regimen.

For one, you'll build muscle, which creates a more shapely body, helping you fit into your clothes and just generally look better.

You'll also ensure you're losing pure fat if you incorporate some strength training, instead of losing muscle mass if you stick to straight cardio.

Finally, for every 3 pounds of muscle you gain, your body will burn an extra 120 pounds a day, just on its own. Pretty easy calorie win!

Mix it up with intervals and a variety of activities 

So you know you want to incorporate cardio AND strength training into your exercise regimen - which is great. Maybe you head to the gym and meet with a trainer, or look up a great routine online that incorporates all the workout elements you're after.

You start to lose weight and feel great, and then,  a couple of months in, your weight just sort of... plateaus.

This is because, as we continue to exercise and get more in shape, the same workout will burn fewer calories. If you're not quite at your goal weight yet and you're not seeing a further drop, I hate to break it to you - but you're going to have to up the ante in your workout. At this point another trip to a personal trainer, or even upping your time on the treadmill/heaviness of the weights you lift, is going to have the impact you're after.

Don't overdo the "rewards"

This one's about nutrition, but it's specifically related to exercise so I'll include it in this list.

After a particularly good workout, many of us feel we "deserve" that tasty brownie at the coffee shop in the morning, or that we've "earned" a pizza for dinner.

While I 100% endorse moderation, and totally encourage you to have a sweet treat or hit your favourite pizza place every once in awhile, I have a hard truth for you: as you lose weight, your body needs fewer calories... which means you should actually be eating less than you were before you started exercising regularly.

If you're really committed to hitting your goal weight, make sure you're not "rewarding" yourself more than once or twice a month. There's plenty of time for delicious treats when your routine is firmly in place, you've lost the weight, and you're living an overall healthy lifestyle.


In the spirit of a healthy January, I'm running a new holistic & results-focused weight loss program at Tall Tree Integrated Health. Find out more.

Steph Bowen