It’s still quite common to hear someone say that they’ll ‘exercise off’ the junk food they’ve just consumed. Perhaps to undo a doughnut binge, they’ll run a 5k. Or to balance out a fry up they’ll hit the weights and get a sweat on. But this is outdated thinking, and soon it will be rare to hear this sort of thinking.
The truth is, you can’t outrun a bad diet.
What we eat is truly what we are. Food has the power to support the body in its natural aim of good health, or to disrupt that aim completely. Different foods have to power to support immune function, or to increase fat storage or even to raise our stress hormones.
The old calories in, calories out thinking is being left behind as one of the diet myths of the 90’s and 00’s, along with low-fat diets. It’s time we all change our thinking to a more holistic outlook. Everything is connected. You simply can not eat one item of food without it having an impact on how you feel, and your health. Whether you exercise after that or not, makes no difference.
You can’t ‘burn off’ the damage left by a slurry of sugar as it rolls its syrupy river through your blood stream, especially if this is done day after day after day.
Does this mean we shouldn’t even bother exercising?
Of course not. Exercise is vital for our health. It strengthens our bones, keeps our muscles strong, helps us sleep, and raises our feel good moods. But it can never fix the damage in the body left over by years of malnutrition. Diet has to come first. When we eat well, we actually want to move. When we eat clean, we exercise better. Exercise always supports the body in its goal of homeostasis – balance.
Looking slim, or even muscular, is not always the best indicator of the health of our internal systems. As we know now, we can be a TOFI – thin on the outside, fat on the inside. Which means the visceral fat that coats our organs.
If you exercise to look good, but eat a diet high in processed foods, there is a chance that you won’t be truly healthy. You may feel rubbish all the time, and still be on course for metabolic diseases. Exercise will help to keep you fit, which can help the body be strong in times of illness. But diet and fitness is not a 50-50 split. Perhaps more 80-20, 80% of your body being able to stay healthy comes from diet, and 20% comes from exercise.
I hope this short blog post highlights the importance of looking after our body in a holistic way. Eat unprocessed more often than not, AND move your body, and your body will be free to carry on fighting for your health.