exercise to eat

What Motivates Your Exercise Routine? Are You Exercising to Eat?

“Because fitness is not a punishment, it’s a privilege” – Neghar Fonooni

I remember a time (in the not so distant past) that I logged calories in and calories out.  Basically I would workout so I could eat.  I did my morning workout, entered it into my handy dandy program, then I would plan my day accordingly based upon the calories I burned and what this program said I could have.  Of course, the more I exercised, the more calories I could consume.  Some days I would get off track and then I would feel I needed to add another workout just so I could eat dinner without guilt.  

Are you caught in the trap where you feel like you have to exercise to eat? Click To Tweet

Have you ever been caught in this trap?  Or maybe you’re in it right now?  Certainly no judgement on plans where you count calories and all that, but for me, it became bondage.  I couldn’t eat unless I went to the computer and logged it into my program to see if I had “earned” that food….whether it was lean chicken or dessert.  I never listened to my body when it came to eating or exercise.  It was all about the numbers.  

Feeling pain in my hamstring signaling a strain?  So what.  I’ll deal with that later.  I MUST log these miles, or I can’t eat today.  

A piece of bread sounds good with my grilled chicken salad for dinner, but first I have to see if it fits into my macros.  

Everybody is going out for ice cream after dinner, but I don’t have any calories left.  Can’t eat that….not even a small vanilla cone.  No Sir!  

While I love running and my daily exercise, this type of “plan” was not freeing for me.  I was doing multiple workouts a day not because of a special event I was training for or even for the joy of a bike ride on a nice summer day, it was all about being able to eat without guilt.  

Stop the madness of having to exercise just to eat! Click To Tweet

This madness had to stop!  

Exercise is supposed to be freeing.  It’s a privilege to move our bodies and see them at work.  To feel strong when we lift heavy things and feel accomplished when we cross that finish line.  

Food is supposed to be for our nourishment.  It is supposed to be enjoyed and savored.  

I stopped logging calories.  I stopped logging minutes running and riding. (This was so hard!)  I began to listen to my body. (This is a hard practice too!)  I focused on quality workouts over quantity.  Fueling my body with food that gave me energy became my meal plan.  I also had food for pure enjoyment, but I didn’t overindulge (most of the time!).  

Food is supposed to be for our nourishment. It is supposed to be enjoyed and savored. Click To Tweet

How about you?  Do you view exercise as punishment?  Do you exercise so you can eat?  If you don’t exercise, do you restrict calories?  

Believe me, I still struggle with these tendencies.  On days when I do a shorter workout or only lift or only do yoga (my emphasis on only because doing one thing is just fine!), I struggle with a bit of anxiety around eating.  I have to remind myself that I’m not going to be as hungry on days my workouts aren’t as intense.  I just have to listen.  But I do have to fuel and be intentional on how I do it.  It’s still a work in process for me.  (I could write A LOT about this topic!  Want to stay in the conversation, be sure you’re getting my weekly emails.  I write about this and  a whole lot more!)

So why not…..

  • Find an exercise that you truly enjoy doing?
  • Eat things that are beneficial for your body for strength and energy?
  • Be a detective and figure out how your body responds to various amounts and combinations of food and exercise and then HONOR that?

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  1. I don’t exercise to eat but I do love that all my exercise lets me enjoy my food! In all seriousness tho, I know there’s such a thing as exercise bulimia and that’s a whole different thing.

    1. Sounds like you have a good perspective Wendy. Yes, exercise bulimia is a scary thing. It’s definitely real.

  2. Shannon

    I have used sites like Spark People and My Fitness Pal to log and track food. It gets to be a headache and time consuming to stop and log (for me, anyway) and it becomes all consuming in my mind; constantly thinking about how many calories this item is and where I can cut calories later. Now that I’ve been getting at least 30 minutes every day over the last couple of weeks, I notice that the foods I crave are fruits, vegetables and salad rather than potato chips and other not so healthy foods. Not that I don’t eat those things, I ate a lot of chips and dips and desserts yesterday! But I’m not going to beat myself up. I’ll just continue on today with my walk and healthier choices!

    1. Thank you for sharing how you went through that journey, Shannon, and came to the point to move and eat in a way that makes your body feel good. And definitely days like yesterday happen but you don’t have to get freaked out by them when you know that your “norm” is what it takes for sustainable healthy living! Keep it up!

  3. I’m tracking my food again now. I use the tracking apps as a tool when I realize I’ve gotten way off track. Then I’ll use them, primarily as a reminder of what it feels like to eat a healthy amount of food in a day. I only log exercise if I’ve joined a challenge (I like free stuff and coupons!) and I don’t stress about going over occasionally. There have been times when it’s gotten unhealthy for me but I think I’ve learned to spot the thoughts that lead to that. I’ll probably track for a few months then stop once I feel more in-the-groove.

    1. I love all that Kristen! I’ve done that as well if I feel like I’m missing something and need to figure out what’s going on.

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