Can Excercise Make You Fat?

Sometimes I just sit and stare in amazement at the energy my kids have. Does that ever happen to you? We’ll be sitting at the beach, likely with an adult beverage in our hands, while the kids are running around, jumping over sand piles, skipping waves, diving in head first, you name it! Hours can go by and they are still going at it. I can’t help but think that they really know how to play.

I even have the privilege of teaching our gym’s kids class (crossfit centered, geared towards children aged 5-12) teaching them how to run, jump, and play. Make no mistake, they have ZERO problem with the play part. Really, the class is just a big hour of play since we make squatting and jumping hurdles game-centered. They don’t even realize they are working out (shh don’t tell them). Yet, the lesson is the same. As kids, they all know how to play and really don’t stop until the clock beeps or we have to kick them out of the door. Class after class, they ask for a second, third, or fourth game and always want more. They aren’t playing because they have to, but rather because they want to. It’s fun! No doctor ordered them to exercise 3 times a week for 30 mins and they surely aren’t doing “cardio.”

Somewhere along the way, we as adults decided we were too old for play or that we no longer needed it. Can you think back to when that occurred? When did you stop playing? Perhaps it was after high school, or maybe after college? If you weren’t in sports, chances are you started to turn to something else to get your “recess” time in: exercise. Isn’t that the adult version of play after all? Unfortunately, with exercise comes the begrudging mantra of “have to” rather than “want to” and it being “fun.” Our days become acustomed to sitting and commuting to work, glued to our iPhones and laptops, sitting at a desk in front of emails and excel spreadsheets, and then returning home to sit down after a long day at the office. If you are at work now reading this, do me a favor and sit up straight (roll your shoulders up, back and down and straighten that spine). Thanks. I feel better. With all of this sitting, our activity level suffers, our mobility likely changes, and so does our metabolism. (More on this later).

After noticing these body changes and likely the onset of weight gain, we all turn to exercise as the solution. Makes sense right? We don’t set out and add recess or play time into our routine, we exercise. Perhaps we workout in front of the TV, in a park at a all-ladies bootcamp, or maybe even join a gym. The problem is, exercise doesn’t work. It is not the answer. Wait, don’t shoot me just yet. I’m still getting to my point. Folks can spend hours in the gym, pay hundreds of dollars for personal training and yet see little to no change. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of body composition changes that may take place during said exercise with increased muscle mass and slightly decreased body fat tissue. Furthermore, exercise is a fabulous tool to increase your mood as well as your fitness. Typically though, the likelihood is that the results you are looking for, just aren’t there.

If you are scrolling down looking for the answer to my question, “so what does work?” let me tell you. Exercise AND nutrition. You’ve all heard it before: “you can’t outrun/jump/lift a bad diet. As cheesy as that phrase is, it’s 100% true. The gains we make in the gym mean zero if our diet isn’t equipped to support our goals. Our diets are the obvious tool here to get the job done. Diets alone can work to help support those seeking weight loss results. Exercise alone? Nope. Not so much.

So let’s put the “fun” back into adult recess aka exercise and bring your diet to the table. When exercise because fun, we are more likely to enjoy the experience, thus making the process easier. (This is where CrossFit get’s such high marks because I would bet to say that everyone in the gym keeps coming back because it is fun and rewarding; not because they secretly enjoy doing a million pull ups).

If we love what we do for exercise, chances are we won’t be so focused on the “have to,” but rather the “get to.” Nutrition then enters the arena to set you up for success with a one-two punch to chip away at your goals. Where to start? Think movement and not machines. Hike, swim, run, dance, or join a group class. Chances are, one of these things is going to be “fun” for you and get you into a more effective way of exercising. (I would urge you to try a CF class but I think you already get the gist). Don’t ditch your former routines altogether, but perhaps mix it up with skills and hobbies that make you forget you are working out, just like the kids in my CrossFit kids class. You’re never too old to have recess.

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MovementSara Nelson