Adding more exercise may do little to help weight loss. Key to weight loss is nutrition change. Print

By Andrea Holwegner BSc, RD “The Chocoholic Dietitian”  www.healthstandnutrition.com  

Over the years, Craig’s weight had gotten so high he stopped weighing himself because he couldn’t bear to look at the number. A friend of his, concerned about his laboured breath and evident fatigue, had convinced Craig to buy a treadmill for his home.

Tired of being the fat guy, Craig began the very difficult task of working up a sweat on the treadmill almost every day. Several months into his new exercise regime – and having lost virtually no weight – he wondered why the scale refused to budge.

If you are overweight or obese and have a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, adding more exercise can improve your overall health and cardiovascular fitness, but it may do little to drop the number on the scale.

A 2011 article published in the American Journal of Medicine reviewed 14 trials and 1,847 patients, and found that moderately intense exercise programs of six months only resulted in a 1.6-kilogram weight loss and 2.12-centimetre decrease in waist circumference. Similar programs of a year didn’t offer much difference (1.7-kg and 1.95cm decrease).

If you have a substantial amount of weight to lose, these small losses may feel like plenty of hard work without getting a paycheque. This may be one of the reasons fitness facilities are so busy in the New Year and then see a large drop-off in the months to come.

No results, no motivation to continue.

Research over the years consistently shows that although you can lose small amounts of weight by initiating an exercise program, much bigger weight-loss results come from nutrition changes. Even better, using a combination of reducing your calorie intake and adding exercise can offer slightly better weight-loss results than nutrition alone.

So if exercise alone isn’t the best strategy to lose weight, you might wonder how someone you know has lost plenty of weight simply by exercising more. One theory is that this has more to do with the influence exercise has on reducing your intake (calories in) than the calories burned during exercise (calories out).

A 2011 article in the Journal of Obesity suggested that metabolic, hormonal and psychological changes are involved. Exercise can help improve your overall mood and stress response, which can help you tackle emotional eating and regulate how much you eat. Physical activity also helps combat depression and sleep issues, which in recent years have been linked to higher risk of obesity.

Also, while exercise alone may do little to help you lose extra pounds, research shows that exercise is one of the best ways to prevent weight gain and also to maintain weight loss over the long run.

Where to start

1.  If you have a large amount of weight to lose, you could begin a new eating plan as well as a new fitness regime at the same time – but I would encourage you to start with one or the other.

2.  It’s very challenging to successfully start and maintain both areas of change, especially when you are living a real life with big family and work commitments. Go easy on yourself and commit to one major lifestyle change at a time.

3.  Start with your nutrition first, since the research shows you can begin seeing faster changes on the scale, which can be more motivating to continue on your journey to better health.

4.  Once you see the changes in your body from improved nutrition, it can be psychologically as well as physically easier to get going on a healthy exercise plan for life.

ANDREA HOLWEGNER IS THE CHOCOHOLIC DIETITIAN, AND OWNS HEALTH STAND NUTRITION CONSULTING INC. VISIT WWW.HEALTHSTANDNUTRITION.COM OR PHONE 403-262-3466 FOR NUTRITION COUNSELLING, SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS AND TO SUBSCRIBE TO HER FREE MONTHLY EZINE. TWITTER: @CHOCOHOLICRD.

About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
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Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
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Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
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Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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