Oscar Fabic Cortez
Photo by Sarah Good
Okay, diets don’t actually suck.
In fact, a healthy diet that provides the appropriate caloric needs and essential nutrients of your personal body type is of course one of the best things you can do for your body.
However, the problem with diets is that they have the tendency to emphasize that diet alone is the overall cure to a person’s health woes. People who go on a diet will quickly change their entire eating habits, reduce their caloric intake and try their hardest to maintain this entirely new methodology with the hope of shedding a few pounds, all the while fighting with the long-ingrained eating habits that they’ve accumulated over a lifetime from the influences of family, friends and culture. When this system fails to become sustainable (as they often do after a few weeks), the dieter regresses back into the old habits but with a higher likelihood of binge eating their old, unhealthy foods after being deprived of them.
If you begin your goal of getting healthy by emphasizing the workout first, your quest to getting in shape, after the initial uphill climb, all begins to flow downhill. In a simple weight lifting session or a rigorous run for example, not only do you use up a large store of energy that would otherwise go to fat, you also create micro tears (which sound scary, but really aren’t) in your muscle fibers that will require energy to repair but actually make your muscles stronger in the process. Then, after you’ve eaten the proper nutrition to restore the energy and nutrient needs of your body, you’ve emerged stronger, faster and, most importantly, healthier. This is the same process that athletes use to better their performance on the field and by default to get healthier.
While you might not consider yourself an athlete, you can still workout like one to get the same benefits of increased muscle mass, decreased fat and increased metabolism and energy, thereby allowing you to exercise more often, get more muscle mass, less fat, a faster metabolism and have more energy. This vicious and incredibly effective cycle is the reason why working out is superior to diets for getting healthier.
In a perfect world we would all be working out on a consistent basis while eating an ideal mixture of fruits, veggies, fishes and lean meats in just the right portions. But in the real world of classes, work schedules, extracurricular, internships and social life, this idyllic world becomes even more difficult to attain, which is even more reason why I espouse emphasizing the workout over the diet in order to get the most “bang for your buck,” or in this case, for your time.
The diets that we see advertised on television, radio and the Internet all claim to change the dieter’s life if they would only buy their product and follow its advice, but they are sold as cures to a problem of habit and lifestyle like some quick-fix pill when diets really are not. Diets will not give you a stronger cardiovascular system, a better metabolism, a better figure or more energy the way that working out will.
In our fast-paced reality, the simple mantra of diet and exercise would suffice. But, if you only had the time or effort to pick one, pick the workout.