How many times have you indulged in a treat, promising yourself you will work out extra hard the next day? Or have you ever exercised an extra hour so that you could “earn” a night out with friends? This exchange of exercise for indulgence sounds logical on the surface, but it’s actually a bad habit that you should avoid. Here’s why.
First, keep in mind that calorie counters are not completely accurate. Most activity calculators offer you a ballpark estimate of the number of calories each food contains, and how much each type of exercise will burn. This knowledge can help you to understand, in a very general way, how many calories various foods contain and how much energy is spent through exercise. But because those calorie counters can vary in their accuracy, you shouldn’t get too specific about “earning” and “spending” your calories. You might actually overestimate the calories burned through exercise, and indulge your way into a weight gain over time. Whoops!
The second reason to avoid this habit is far more important. When you view food as a reward and exercise as punishment (or at least an unpleasant task), you establish a negative thought pattern in your mind. Your behavior cycle will begin to focus around food as a shameful, “bad” thing for which you must suffer. Then, you view exercise as something unpleasant that you would really rather avoid. It’s no wonder so many of us tend to give up on exercise programs!
Instead, try to view food as the fuel for a healthy body, and experience exercise as a celebration of your strength and perseverance. Training your brain to recognize food and activity in a positive way will reinforce your weight loss plan and make it easier to stick with it in the long run.
If you do find yourself involved in negative thought patterns revolving around meals and exercise, let’s discuss those habits at your next appointment. We can help you work through the obstacle and change that pattern into something more healthy and positive.