‘Tomorrow, I’m going to start eating better!’ How many times have you had that thought run across your mind? Whether it was after our indulgence in a holiday meal or we just binge watched our favorite Netflix show (insert show) and realized that the pint of Halo Top ice cream has somehow found its way from the container into your stomach. “But it was only 300 calories…” and earlier you finished your kid’s Chic-Fil-A waffle fries because you didn’t want them to go to waste. Chances are, you’re not intentionally trying to sabotage your diet. Many of us are in a setting where food can be around us all day and it’s hard to commit to saying no. But all those calories add up, and at the end of the day you’re saying, ‘tomorrow, I’m going to start cutting down on my food intake!’
Apparently, if we start exercising first, the dietary changes tends to fall into place soon after. In January 2018, The International Journal of Obesity released a study that followed just over 2600 adults who started to exercise regularly for 15 weeks. The participants were focused on aerobic exercises (cardio-based) while recording exercise duration and intensity. Prior to the study, the adults filled out dietary questionnaires and were not asked to make any dietary changes to their eating patterns. After the 15 weeks, the adults had taken the questionnaire again to reevaluate their eating habits and patterns. Dietary patterns were followed based on gender, race/ethnicity, and BMI. The study concluded that the adults had made positive changes to their diet as a result of their exercise patterns. Participants had an increase in voluntary regulation of food intake (they had more control over saying yes/no to food). Furthermore, when exercise duration was longer there was a decrease in preference for snacking.
So, the verdict is in! If you want to reduce your odds of snacking and have better control of your food intake, you’re better off starting your day with some exercise than trying to restrict yourself with a diet! Right now, I have made it a priority in my life to go to the gym for an hour, three-four days a week. I never try to go more than that because I find that I am absolutely exhausted (considering I am pregnant with our third). On the weekends where I am home with the kids, we start our morning with breakfast together and then I take the toddlers for a walk. By 9:30am, we’ve already gotten our 3 miles in and I’m back home starting the rest of our day. I feel I subconsciously get my walk done right in the morning because I know that it will jumpstart my motivation to accomplish as much as I can throughout the day. The kids love the morning walk and I feel good getting up and moving! And let’s face it, your kids aren’t going to be 100% onboard the entire walk, they can get a little antsy toward the end. I bring a container of grapes and cheese for the last 20 minutes of the walk. By the time their done, we’ve made it back to the house and they’re ready to play!
My challenge for you is to start moving before you even start trying to make dietary changes. Spend a week focused on exercising and commit to your workout plan. Then lets talk about what kind of tweaks we can start making to your diet!
- Jaehyun Joo, Sinead A. Williamson, Ana I. Vazquez, Jose R. Fernandez, Molly S. Bray. The influence of 15-week exercise training on dietary patterns among young adults. International Journal of Obesity, 2019; DOI: 1038/s41366-018-0299-3