The truth about what is hard and what isn’t: diet vs exercise

I saw a meme on the Book of Faces this week that resonated with me because so many people see exercise as the panacea for losing weight.

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They are different kinds of hard, but one of them really is about getting past discomfort and creating a habit while the other requires introspection, a change in our perception of what food is, and analyzing our relationship with food. Then, you need to do planning and a lot of work to prepare for the week if you’re going to succeed. Yes, preparing meals and sticking to a meal plan is harder than exercise.

I am fortunate that my awesome wife Sherry diligently prepares our food every Sunday. It’s at great cost not financially, but emotionally and in time. She typically gives up, at a minimum, half of her Sunday to make our food. There have been Sunday Prep Days that have lasted all day. I try to help out where I can, but more often than not, she has things so tightly choreographed that me “helping” gets in her way and causes her to make mistakes. I try to be as supportive as I can in every way because she is, after all, making my meals for an entire week in one day.

Starting running was easy in comparison. All I needed to do was put on some shorts and running shoes and get out there. Any physical discomfort I felt was temporary, and as long as I was careful, I was able to avoid over-exertion and injury. Creating the habit to run every other day wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t nearly as hard as giving up an entire day a week to make healthy foods.

With that said, I haven’t talked about the most difficult part of the food prep: eating well. One of the reasons we do food prep is not only to save time during the week, but to have healthy options available that spent time and money to prepare to dissuade us from eating out or eating bad foods. The cost is considerable in food prep, both financially and in time. We are less likely to leave already prepared food in the refrigerator when we know that it already cost us money and time to make.

Eating well requires discipline. Lots of it for some people. For stress eaters, it can be especially difficult. There are volumes written about strategies one can employ to curb hunger, so I won’t go into that here and now (perhaps a later blog post about my own strategies). I was an emotional eater, and also someone who ate because I used it as a form of entertainment. I had to face down the reasons I ate too much and address them head-on. That was far more difficult than running has ever been.

You can’t exercise away a bad diet. Bad eating habits will inhibit any progress you could ever make through exercise. Do yourself a favor and eat right. Your body will reward you for it!

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