I see it all the time; many well-intentioned exercisers get caught up in the “eat less, exercise more” weight loss model; also known as a starvation plan. This is not fun or sustainable.

What these well-intentioned exercisers don’t know is that severely restricting calories leads to loss of lean tissue, which slows metabolism. They end up being “under-lean” which means more body fat and less muscle.

Because fat burns 70 times fewer calories than muscle, now it takes a lot fewer calories to sustain your weight.  To add insult to injury, many people end up gaining all the weight back and more because the body thinks it’s starving to death and triggers hunger signals too strong to ignore.  If you’re already active or are planning to begin an exercise program, make sure you’re eating real food, and enough of it, to keep your metabolism humming!

It’s important to exercise wisely. While being sedentary is obviously not healthy, over-exercising comes with its own set of problems. Exercise is a stress on the body, so the right dose is critical. What’s right for your friend or family member might not be right for you. It’s important to listen to your body. If you have symptoms of hormone imbalance, are dreading your workouts, feel overly sore, experience mood changes or notice an increase in inflammation you’re probably overdoing it.

When choosing an exercise regimen, pick something you love to do. Studies have shown a 50% dropout rate for exercisers within the first year of beginning a program.  My favorite forms of exercise include resistance training, high intensity interval training (HIIT), walking and yoga.

Resistance training is critical for slowing muscle and bone loss that comes with age. It also helps the body to burn calories at rest, which is way better than manually burning calories for hours on an elliptical machine. I recommend strength training two to three times per week for the most benefit. (Always consult with a certified personal trainer to prevent injury.) HIIT is great if you’re short on time and helps to balance blood sugar. Walking is easy, fun, relaxing, inexpensive and, as an added bonus, walking burns fat! Finally, yoga is a great way to improve flexibility, muscle tone, circulation, energy and mindset.

Pick a form of exercise you love and just do it (thanks Nike).

Until next time, make every bite count!