For years, the fitness industry has perpetuated the myth that exercise is the key to getting into “the best shape of your life!!!” It’s evident in every gym commercial or infomercial for thigh and butt blasters or celebrity fitness video series. Unfortunately, the idea that we just need to sweat more to stay fit is wrong, because it’s missing the largest and most important piece of the puzzle – diet.
How important is diet in the fitness game? It’s the game-changer. It’s the lynchpin. It’s the make-it-or-break-it component. One a scale of one to ten in importance, diet is an eight or a nine. Diet and nutrition should be one of the very first items discussed in any meeting with any personal trainer if your goal is fat loss and improved health. Period.
Think of it like this – nutrition is the gross motor control of the fitness puzzle, and exercise (and specifically resistance training) is the fine control. You’ve likely heard the expression, “Abs are made in the kitchen,” and it’s true. You can devote an hour a day to your core, and unless you’re just as focused on what you consume, you’re wasting your time.
Let’s say we have two different clients with the same goal of improving health through weight loss and exercise. The first client decides to commit to four one-hour sessions per week. The second decides to commit to two one-half hour sessions per week. Our first client still believes “a little bit of this food won’t hurt,” and continues to hit the local wine shop of choice on a regular basis. Our second client focuses on cleaning up the dietary choices, makes sacrifices in terms of immediate taste bud gratification, and develops the focus and organization required for success in any endeavor. Guess who is going to be far successful? Not only has our second client achieved much better results, he or she has also saved more in the cash department!
The eighth grade P.E. mentality of “ I will burn it off” continues to creep into our belief system. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply across the board and it’s certainly not going to happen as we mature. The fitness industry has really sold the public on the Biggest Loser/boot camp mentality and the idea that pain equals progress. For with the exception of the very lucky few, this focus on painful workouts just leads to frustration when our weight refuses to budge and a greater risk of injury.
Let’s be very clear – one of the biggest changes you can make is to your diet. Pair it with consistent, effective exercise, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the changes to your physique, along with the other positive side effects (improved sleep, more energy, reduced stress, improved brain power, better memory, boosted immune system, etc.).
Do yourself the service of commitment to dietary modifications before, and during your decision to spend your hard-earned money on a personal trainer. Do not get taken by the “We can beat the fat off you” industry standard.