I want to start this blog out by saying that this is not an attack on people who do not lift. I am simply going to share my experience with lifting and how it changed my mind set. I realize not everyone sees things the way I did.
When I joined MFP I followed the typical new member cycle. I set my calorie goal to lose two pounds per week, was given 1200 calories and realized if I wanted to not feel hungry I was going to have to do some work. I really didn’t know much about weight loss when I started. Thanks to magazines I was under the impression that I had to eat the right foods and do lots of cardio with a few special exercises to fight the fat in my trouble zones. The idea of “right foods” was daunting, so I opted for restriction in the form of only eating fruits, vegetables and meat (mostly chicken and egg white).
Like many people I simply cannot function with restriction. I would do well for four or five days, then I would binge eat for a few days. These wild eating sessions ended with guilt. How could I eat junk food again when I was finally detoxing my body from all the crap I had been eating?!? I also felt like I had undone all the cardio from the week PLUS I had dug myself into a hole that required even more cardio.
The week after a binge would be filled with even more cardio. The binge that weekend would result in more cardio the next week. This was a bad cycle.
Thankfully I lurked in the boards for long enough to learn the first key to fixing the negative cycle. Despite having 70 pounds to lose I was going to be more successful setting my goal to lose one pound per week and include foods I love. One pound per week was a pound more than what I was losing through extreme restriction and binge eating.
The second key to fixing the negative cycle was lifting. One day I arrived at the gym and I was completely sick of the treadmill. There was no way I was going to get on that thing and waste another 30 minutes hating life. I walked over to the closest machine that looked self explanatory and started using my muscles. Several months later I walked in armed with a print out from Bodybuilding.com and started following a program (thankfully they provided videos for all the exercises as well).
I can’t always stick to my calorie goal. I’m not as concerned with how much work I need to do to make up for it. Those extra calories? Fuel for my next workout. On a lifting day? Just feeding my muscles. It’s not an excuse for exceeding my calorie goal daily. It’s recognizing that going over is not taking a step back, I’m taking a step in a different direction.
If you can find a way to change exercise from punishment to reward it will take you far. Also, don’t forget that Calories aren’t just evil things that keep us fat, they are fuel and you shouldn’t feel guilt for eating.