Let me see… If I engage in a particularly vigorous workout this afternoon, is it okay to reward myself with a candy bar? Or, if I eat a really light meal tonight, can I skip the weight room tomorrow?

John Cloud writes a thought-provoking piece at Time.com that explains the relationship between exercise and weight loss. It’s not as simple as you think:


Cloud’s article prompted me to do some serious thinking about why I got stuck in a frustrating diet plateau that lasted several weeks. Last January, I was 40 pounds overweight with abnormally high blood pressure. My urologist convinced me to start an upper body workout program. I lost 22 pounds and started looking and feeling better. Then the plateau hit. I was stuck on 170 pounds for weeks. A central point in Cloud’s article is that exercise can stimulate hunger. Upon reflection, I figured out that after my weight room sessions, I was rewarding myself with extra snacks.

After a few recent diet relapses, I’ve put myself on a Weight Watchers point system. I want to loose ten more pounds by the time I see my doctor next month. If I succeed, I’ll only have a few more pounds to go.  Even though exercise is an important element in losing weight, you need to pay close attention to those pesky calories. They add up really fast!