In this post, I’m going to talk about the “move more” part of the common phrase. Why you should totally do it, and why should not count on it at all for weight loss.

What is meant by “outrunning a bad fork”

In the first chapter, I mentioned this equation

Cal In < Cal Out = Weight loss

So “outrunning a bad fork” is an attempt to stack so many calories into the “Cal Out” side of the equation, that “Cal In” doesn’t really matter. This seems like a solid plan at first. You get to lose weight, get toned and sexy from all your workouts, and still eat pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or sprinkle broccoli into your favorite soup, ranch dressing. Don’t do this. It almost surely won’t work.

Why you probably won’t, and almost surely can’t sustain

For starters, the amount of exercise is quite a lot. It’s only exacerbated by the fact that when you’re outrunning a bad fork, you don’t even know how much exercise you even need, since you don’t know how many calories you’re consuming. The only way to be sure you’re ahead of your fork, is to exercise to such an extent, that it’s actually difficult to ingest that many calories.

Secondly, exercise can make you more hungry, and when the post-workout urge to eat comes on, many people tend to “treat themselves” because “they’ve earned it”. Many well intentioned people accidentally undo their workouts thinking they’re making smart decisions about post-workout nutrition. Many a protein bar can pack nearly 400 calories, for a mere 20ish grams of protein.

A sudden large increase in activity can also be dangerous. Moving from sedentary to very active often leads to injury, sometimes permanent. Even a temporary injury will just bust you right back to sedentary. It’s 1 step forward, 2 steps back.

Finally, sustaining anything takes habits. Small habits are hard enough as it is to ingrain, let alone large habits like adding on 1-2 hours of exercise a day.

You want numbers? Okay fine.

Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re a 230 lb, 6’1” tall male with a sedentary office job, and you want to lose 1 lb a week. So you’ve got a TDEE of 2,487 calories, and a calorie goal of 1,987 per day.

You wake up in the morning and pour yourself a bowl of cheerios. Say 2 cups, and a cup of whole milk. No biggie. 311 calories. Oh, and a tall glass of orange juice, 168 calories. So 479 calories for breakfast. Not bad at all. You’re feeling a bit sluggish at work, so you grab a Dew from the fridge around 10. You need the caffeine right? 170 calories.

Lunch rolls around, and you figure you’ll eat fresh. No McDonald’s for you, you’re on a diet. So you head over to subway and grab an Italian BMT. Footlong of course, and with pepper jack cheese and vinegar and oil. 920 Calories. Bag of Doritos, and a medium dew? another 320 calories.

So you manage to avoid snacking at the office. You’re trying to lose weight remember? When dinner rolls around it’s taco night! you have 3 soft tacos with sour cream, 780 calories. Some chips and salsa on the side, 320 calories. Feeling pretty parched, so you cap off your day with a Dos Equis, because hey! Taco night! It’s only 145 calories. You take a look at your daily total. Oof! 3,134 calories!

No worries though! You have a gym membership. So you pack up your clothes, head out to the gym, hop on the treadmill and run 3 miles, in half an hour. It’s not too fast, but hey, you didn’t have to stop and walk right? You take a look at the treadmill to find you burned a whopping 522 calories. Not too shabby, subtract that from your total and… 2,612 calories. Not only are you not losing weight at this rate, but you’re actually on pace to gain over a pound a month. And this was with only 1 non-meal soda, no snacks, no dessert. Now you could triple or quadruple the amount of time you spend in the gym, but I think we can all agree it’s far more practical to just… not eat so much to begin with.

Why bother with exercise at all?

Because it’s fantastic for you! I’m not gonna talk your ear off (write your eyes out?) here and just list them. Straight from the CDC’s mouth:

  • Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Reduce your risk of some cancers
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mental health and mood
  • Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
  • Increase your chances of living longer

So by all means, definitely exercise! Just don’t make it the sole egg basket for your weigh loss goals. So what can you do, but not overdo? If you’re new to exercise, I have 2 great recommendations.

  1. Walk

    Walking is fantastic. It’s low impact, and almost anyone can do it anywhere. Even if you can’t walk for very long, start small, and build.

  2. A beginner’s weight lifting program like Stronglifts 5x5

    Weight training is great for all sorts of reasons. Building muscle is what gives otherwise skinny bodies the shape typically referred to as “toned”. But lifting weights has it’s dangers. What’s great about stronglifts, is that it’s a barbell program utilizing compound lifts to engage several muscle groups, in just a few types of lifts. It also starts with an empty bar, and moves up only 5 pounds each time, making it very hard to strain yourself on a weight you aren’t ready for.

So there you have it. Exercise is fantastic, but the gym is where you get “in shape”. You lose weight in the kitchen. If you’re familiar with the 80/20 rule, think of it like this: 80% of your weight loss results will come from the “20%” you spend planning and recording your meals, not working out.