Stop Expecting Miracles From Exercise

Stop Expecting Miracles From Exercise
Carly Jacobs
I

‘ve been writing in the wellness space for a few years now and I’m starting to get very concerned about the way the majority of people view exercise. I’m a warrior of manageable health and fitness so I trial lots of different exercise trends and then I report on them. I’m starting to notice that whenever I write about a new class or regime, I get asked the same questions again and again.

Girl standing in fashionable sneakers brick wall. Urban fashion

Did you lose weight?

Did you get more toned?

Did you get a six pack?

Did you maintain your weight loss?

The problem with these questions is that the focus is always on physical results. The truth is, the physical results of exercise are actually the least important benefit of getting your sweat on, yet most people have ‘getting thin’ as their primary reason for exercising. This is an enormous mistake and this mind set is one of the reasons why so many people are dangerously sedentary in their lives. They want to lose weight, they exercise for a bit, they don’t see results, so they stop. It’s an incredibly unhealthy cycle that needs breaking. This is why we all need to stop expecting miracles from exercise. A few 5km runs and some half hearted sit ups aren’t going to make anyone look like Jessica Alba and the sooner we realise this the sooner we can appreciate exercise for what it CAN do rather than what it can’t do.

Exercise Truth Bombs

There are a few things that people just don’t want to hear about exercise. For instance, it takes AGES to see physical results from exercising. I’m talking months, sometimes years, sometimes a life time. Unless you exercise for several hours a day and you’ve won the genetic lottery, it’s highly unlikely that you will ever look like Gwyneth Paltrow but this does not mean that exercise is pointless. Far from it. I have exercised for at least 45 minutes, 3 days per week (usually closer to 5), every week since I was 16. That’s over a decade of consistent exercise.

Am I thin? No. Do I have a six pack? Snort! Am I healthy? Hell yes. Do I feel happy most of the time? Absolutely. Am I strong? You bet! Can I hike for 10 hours without crying? Yep. Can I spend a solid evening dancing with my 5 year old niece at a family wedding? Show me the dance floor! These are all long term benefits of exercising, benefits I wouldn’t be experiencing if I quit when I was an obese teenager who hated running and stupidly assumed I’d drop a kilo every time I did an aerobics class. My body is also totally pain free. I have no ongoing or persistent back/neck/shoulder issues and I know that’s a result of years of dance training, learning to stand up straight and moving my god damn butt every day. I’m not the fittest person I know, not by a long shot but I’m absolutely the most consistent and that’s where the magic happens.

The weight loss myth

Okay I’m about to tell you something that is going to change your life. You most likely won’t lose weight from exercising. Read that sentence, process it, accept it and re-adjust your thinking. Exercise absolutely helps maintain weight, but weight loss from exercise alone is difficult to achieve. Stop worry about the number on the scales. ACTUALLY stop worry about it. It’s quite possible to lose 20 centimetres all over your body and not drop a gram on the scales. So when your favourite jeans are starting to look totally awesome and you’re all a glow from the exercise goodies that have been flowing around your body why the hell would you stop if you haven’t lost weight on the scales? That is MADNESS! It’s fine to weigh yourself to monitor your progress but if you gain 2 kilos, yet your used-to-be-too-small dress now fits you like a glove DO NOT QUIT. You are not a number on a scale, you are a hot, fit, healthy and totally gorgeous piece of ass and you need to tell yourself that every day when you don’t feel like going for a walk or hitting the gym.

Another exercise truth bomb

Exercise isn’t negotiable. Skipping exercise has a negative effect on everything in your life – mental health, general mobility, weight maintenance, cardio vascular health, life expectancy – it should just be a part of your routine like brushing your teeth or doing the grocery shopping. Stop looking at exercise as a thing you do when you’re trying to lose weight and start looking at it as an essential activity for health and wellness. It’s as simple as doing 10,000 every day and breaking a sweat for 30 minutes, 3 times a week. That’s all you have you to do.

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How’s your exercise attitude? Does it need a re-adjustment?

 

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26 Comments

  1. Jan Hamilton 5 years ago

    Good Morning, I walk for an hour at 5.30 AM. every weekday – this is possibly the best article I have read on this subject. Well Done Carly

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 5 years ago

      Thank you! And good on you! 5.30am is VERY early. I’m certainly not that person!

  2. Bravo! *stands and applauds*

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 5 years ago

      xxx

  3. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid 5 years ago

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I used to plan my day/week and see where I could fit my exercise in. These days, I plan my exercise and see where I can fit everything else in. For me exercise is all about the things you can’t necessarily see, mental health and feeling fit and strong. It’s been super hard to lose or maintain any weight since I lost my thyroid, but I just keep on trucking. Because exercise is miraculous, just not for weight loss!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 5 years ago

      Absolutely. My mental health is brilliant and always has been and that’s absolutely because I prioritise exercise. If I don’t run for a week, I get really down and I can feel sadness creeping up on me. I run to run away from bad thoughts!

  4. lyndaal 5 years ago

    Brilliant piece – thAnkyou for writing something so easy for people to understand! My thighs are bigger now than when I started my fitness journey but my craft is running so it would be ridiculous for me to want them to be anything less than powerhouses of muscle! Also a six pack? Who got time for that! Such a lot of work with mainly dietary tweaking and even then, it’s up to your genetic lottery! I hope to see more of my clients and friends approaching exercise for the multitude of benefits that aren’t nevessarily easy to see!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 5 years ago

      Thank you and yes it is difficult to explain to people, also that exercise is different for everyone. Someone could run 10 km a day and see no difference but someone else might might drop 10kg.

  5. Megan Blandford 5 years ago

    Hallelujah!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 5 years ago

      🙂

  6. hailz 5 years ago

    I do this as a joke – I’ll go to the scales immediately after a run and shout in mock horror that I haven’t dropped any kilos.

    I’ve changed my mindset. I want to get fitter for netball. I want to be more active. No more focus on my body and how it looks. It’s about how I feel.

    I got a fitbit one on your recommendation and it has been so good!! I thought in my work (child care) that I would get close to 10,000. Most days are around 5000 however so I had a rude awakening! I’ve been walking home from work a bit (Belconnen to Turner!) and walking into Civic on weekends instead of driving. It’s sooo motivating seeing your steps (or lack of!) I had a weekend warrior challenge with my aunty and uncle and was doing figure 8’s around the apartment to get back ahead! (I totally won).

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 5 years ago

      Oh I’m so glad you like it! It’s funny with that kind of stuff because people always overestimate how much they move. Always. The fitbit doesn’t lie!

  7. I absolutely agree with this; that being said, aren’t all these “side effects” of regular exercising classified as physical results? I think you mean to say people shouldn’t exercise just to expect visual results.
    I need to get back on the 10,000 step minimum train. I was going SO well at the end of last year and then we moved and the movers couldn’t get our treadmill into the house (the ones we paid extra specifically for moving the treadmill). We tried taking it apart to see if we could carry it ourselves and that was an abysmal failure XD I miss living in a city where you can walk to everything. America just loves to spread things out and then not build footpaths. I’ve gone back to my marching in place as a substitute, but it’s really not easy to work as many steps into my day doing it that way.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 5 years ago

      I was thinking in terms of the body like the result effects your mood, brain, strength and inner healthy rather than the way you look physically. Like the way you’d say physical fitness – your physical fitness is different to your mental health. You know what I mean? I’m visiting my home town this week and I struggle with my steps when I’m here. I hardly have to try in Fitzroy but I have to actually set aside walk time in Canberra. It sucks! 🙂

      • Right, right. I gotcha.

        Like you say, you have to set aside time, that’s what I have to do to. Just make time for marching/jogging in place until we can hopefully one day have our treadmill back. I’m thinking of making a plan where I do that whenever I’m watching a TV show by myself so I’m not just sitting on my arse, twiddling my thumbs!

  8. Love getting some exercise in, great to get the grrrs out when your kids are doing your head in 🙂 Even if my toddler is cranky, I still try and push through a workout session. Thankfully the women I work out with are not bothered by him whinging and help entertain or distract him! I always feel so much better afterwards and stronger for it too.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 5 years ago

      Oh totally if I’m cranky there is NOTHING like a run to get it all out of my system.

  9. Jessica Chapman 5 years ago

    I really needed to read this today. I started getting my exercise under control for weight loss and it worked up to a point. I put some weight on after christmas and it’s just not shifting. I’ve been finishing my runs lying on the floor with really sore legs thinking, ‘I can’t believe I workout this hard to be this fat.’

    But you’re right, weightloss wasn’t what got my cholesterol under control, exercise was. Loosing weight didn’t help me gain enough flexibility to touch my toes with my legs straight for the first time in my life, doing pilates twice a week did. And I’m no where near the size I was the last time I weighed this much on the scales. And maybe if I stop making myself depressed by thinking about my weight I won’t reach for the chocolate so much and maybe the scales will right themselves.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs-Smaggle 5 years ago

      Looking at exercise as an essential part of daily life totally changed everything. I used to do it just for weightloss but it doesn’t actually do that so I had to change my thinking! :-0

  10. cat@thatbettiething 5 years ago

    I have found it hard to fit exercise in because I have a swarm of young children and a husband who works overseas. I just can’t seem to get out and do it, as there is always at least one kid hanging off me!! But I’ve just found out that there is a huge choice of workout videos online, which I’ve been pumping away to once the kids are in bed. Last night I found a particularly norse 80’s vintage aerobics class – complete with the sweat and wrist bands!!! It was a hoot! And by golly am I sleeping better for doing it.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Have you tried the 7 minute workout app? It’s actually extremely awesome. I use it all the time if I’m travelling or if it’s raining outside and I don’t have time to fit in a proper workout.

  11. Loving those truth bombs and as it’s my field of expertise, I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s what I try to teach my clients day in and day out. I find the older we get HOPEFULLY the wiser we become about our bodies in general. More accepting, more forgiving, less stressy and just doing it (exercise) for a “feel amazing” reason versus what the metal box/society tells us.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Exactly! The feel good mentality behind exercise is what keeps people consistent!

  12. Christine 5 years ago

    Yes! SO much truth here. I’ve been fit and active my whole life – if I don’t exercise I find it hard to deal with stress and everything else in life, as well as feeling agitated as my body is made to move. I love how strong I feel after exercising. 30 years of dancing has given me excellent posture and physical strength as well as discipline and mental strength. Did it make me thin? Nope. Did it make me strong and healthy – yes it did.

Pingbacks

  1. […] weeks ago I published a post call Stop Expecting Miracles from Exercise. It was basically about how most people have unrealistic expectations when it comes to work out […]

  2. […] Stop Expecting Miracles from Exercising – Smaggle. There is so much truth here. I think this is why people fall for diet scam after diet scam. We want the results without the work or commitment. As we head into 2016, and SH and I endeavor to improve our health (because we have to. We just have to), I need to remember this. […]

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