100 lb. Club - Do I really need to exercise?

View Full Version : Do I really need to exercise?

09-14-2013, 06:19 PM
the title says it all. I've heard from various places that exercise to lose weight isn't necessary, as long as you're eating well. in the beginning of my weight loss journey, I thought I was MUCH lighter than I turned out to be. I was exercising 2-3 times a week because I thought I weighed much less and that it was completely necessary. after I finally got an appropriate scale that actually weighed correctly and found out I was 80 lbs heavier, I stopped exercising. I don't know if something in me died at that moment, but I just haven't been motivated to do it ever since. I thought that because I'm so heavy, I could literally just eat well and any and all movement I partake in is enough to make me drop weight.

apparently not? I haven't lost anything substantial in two months. is it just possible that I just need to exercise, and cutting calories (significantly) is just not enough? I know I've asked this question, sorta, before. it's just hard finding people to relate to me because most people in this forum haven't been above 350 lbs. at some point it's just a whole different ballpark.

09-14-2013, 09:02 PM
When I started my most serious weight loss effort, I was 363 lbs. I went to Green Mountain at Fox Run (a women's fitness spa) for three weeks. They put me on a diet of 1600 calories (about half of what I had been eating). It was well-balanced, with adequate protein, fats and carbs. There was NO refined or processed food in the diet and everything was made from scratch. (Good chefs there!)

I also exercised six days a week. At least an hour of cardio, an hour of weight training, and then a fun outdoor activity. I was there in the winter, so I chose to go out with the snowshoeing group. It was awesome! So beautiful outside in Vermont! If someone wanted to exercise more, it was up to them.

For my body, I have learned that I need to do both diet and exercise in order to achieve weight loss. I need to keep to a specific diet for my health goals. I'm a type 2 diabetic, and I'm not on meds so I manage it all with diet and exercise. I need to stay away from foods that affect me adversely (I'm sensitive to soy, gluten, legumes and most recently, eggs and dairy). I need 12 glasses of water/day. I need to get 8 hours of sleep per night. If I go off that, I will struggle to lose. If I stick to it all, the fat melts.

If someone exercises at minimum 30 minutes every day (5 minutes warm-up, 20 minutes sustained cardio, 5 minutes cool down), that is enough to maintain one's current level of fitness. And that is all that does. In order to really burn more calories, exercise levels need to increase from there. For me, I won't lose weight unless I'm exercising two hours a day along with my eating plan. That's 20 minutes of cardio after every meal, plus a hour of weight training and core body work and 20 minutes of stretching. Six days a week.

Do I do all that? No. I am a flawed, imperfect human with ADD, two jobs, two kids, etc. I want to do all that, but I can't even imagine achieving that for a whole week! And yet, it's my ambition to be that dedicated.

What helps me to get there is a really effective support system. And for me, that looks like a supportive community of people I see every day at the gym, people I can talk to about all this stuff daily (in person and on line), and a good set of friends who are like-minded and don't sabotage my efforts (because I can do that all by myself).

And the sleep. If I don't get enough sleep, it all starts to crumble.

It took me a long time to put this all together. But it really works for me.

09-14-2013, 09:49 PM
I think there are benefits to exercising even if you don't lose it for weight loss. How did you FEEL when you were exercising? I know there are a LOT of diets and everyone thinks they have the magic forumla, but I really believe that exercise is good for you no matter your weight and beyond that, it will likely help you lose weigh more quickly no matter your program.

I always try to look at dieting/weight loss as an experiment. Try a few weeks of exercise and see what happens. If you lose weight, you may find that it's a necessary component to your journey. If you don't...you may be able to skip it with no negative result.

09-14-2013, 10:19 PM
Yes, you need to exercise. Everyone does. It doesn't matter if you are 500 pounds or 105 pounds. Everyone needs to exercise. Your heart is a muscle - it needs a workout as well. Every part of your body needs a good stretch and a good work out. I know it's not always fun but there are countless ways to exercise. Bike, Hike, Tennis, Swim, Dance, Zumba, Step, Walk, - and don't forget the combo with weights as well.

09-14-2013, 10:23 PM
You do not need to exercise to lose weight. Diet is 80% or more of weight loss.

I lost my first 60 pounds with diet alone.

That being said:

1) exercise can turbo charge your weight loss at higher weights.
2) exercise makes you fit and healthy. You don't just look better, you feel better.
3) one of the best things I took from this forum was....weightloss makes you look good with your clothes on, exercise makes you look good with your clothes off!

To be honest, if I were you I would super-focus on diet. And when you are ready boost up the exercise.

From 281lbs to about 230lbs I did diet alone. I joined a gym at 230lbs. At 220lbs I started running.

Now at 170lbs I weight train 3-4 times a week and run 6-8 miles every day. But diet is, and will remain, no. 1.

Why? Because an 8 mile run burns me 1000 calories. I can eat more than that in one sitting unless I focus on what goes into my mouth!

Eat fewer calories.

09-14-2013, 10:28 PM
Weight loss is an experiment! When I was last at this weight, I looked and felt much better cause I had been exercising for the last 40 pounds. And then I compare myself to that Shannon and get so frustrated. I look smaller with exercise. I guess that is where skinny-fat comes from. Right now I'm just focusing on steps. I don't want to start throwing more things into the pot to potentially give up on. I know I lose inches quicker when I exercise and perhaps weight. I think it can give me up to .5-1 lb difference a week. I don't know if it helps. Last week I did do some formal exercise and this week I'm not.

09-14-2013, 10:29 PM
I think exercise can help speed up the weight loss process because it means you are burning more calories, but it isn't necessary to exercise to lose weight as long as you have a calorie deficit.

That said, exercise is good for everyone even if they aren't overweight. It keeps your body healthy.

09-14-2013, 10:47 PM
Everyone should exercise every day!!

For me, if I don't exercise, I lose weight much slower or don't lose it at all, even if I am eating the right amount of calories. Exercise helps me stay motivated and and feel physically and mentally good.

09-14-2013, 10:53 PM
I think that if we're doing this (losing weight, changing how we eat / live, etc.) it certainly is a good idea to get more exercise, too. Then there are the facts of the metabolic side of the whole picture.

BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the number of calories you need to live if you did nothing but lay in bed all day. TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) is the number of calories you actually use based on your activity level. I don't know your age, so I used 30. I plugged your weight and height into a TDEE calculator and got this information for you to consider. Please remember, this is what would happen in a perfect world, and results for each of us might be a bit different, but in the long haul, this is how you have to figure it will work.

Your BMR is 2450 calories. (I'm rounding to the nearest 5.) If you do not exercise at all, but just go about the day working and doing small chores, your TDEE is 2935. This means that if you eat 2935 calories, you will maintain your current weight of 390 pounds. For every 3500 calories you cut out, you will lose a pound.

If you exercise a moderate amount 3 days a week (an hour or so that gets your heart rate up,) your TDEE goes up to 3365. All things being equal, those 3 days of exercise allow you to eat about 430 extra calories a day. OR - lose about 3100 calories a week if you don't change anything else. That's almost an extra pound without changing anything else but the exercise.

These numbers are based on age, height, sex, and weight. They go down as you lose. They are lower for women than for men, and they go down just a bit as you age (only about 5 calories a day for each year.) It's something to use as a guideline. I have to assume you are not eating 3,000 calories a day, but if you are not losing weight, you should check carefully just what you are eating and be very honest about counting the calories and see where you are. It is physically possible to lose by sitting still and eating fewer calories, but the improvement to your health will not be the same as if your were exercising more, too.

I'm proof that exercise matters. I had been going to the gym 4 - 6 days a week for group exercise classes (kick boxing, Zumba, Body Pump, step, etc.) since I started losing in January of 2011. I've been pretty easily maintaining my 90 pound loss since October of 2011. But in May of this year, I broke my toe badly enough that I haven't been able to wear shoes at all since the middle of May. Not so badly that I was off my feet - it slowed me down for a week or so, but I just couldn't wear a shoe! I just recently started back to the gym, but I've put on about 8 - 10 pounds this summer. It boils down to that extra 350 - 450 calories you need to compensate for with exercise.

I'm sorry for how long winded this is, but I firmly believe that eating correctly and exercising go hand in hand. It doesn't have to be at a gym. It can be walking around your neighborhood. It can even be as simple as climbing stairs for 30 minutes - up and down, up and down - several times a week. I COULD have done those things this summer, but I didn't. I chose to take the whole time off and am paying now with a 10 pound gain that seem to be all in my middle.

I applaud you for making changes that will benefit you for the rest of your life. I encourage you to add exercise of some sort for the added health benefits along with the slightly more rapid weight loss. Think of it this way - maybe you figured out how many calories you need to cut using diet alone to lose 50 pounds by September 14, 2014 (1 year - 52 weeks) from today. If you step up your game with exercise, you stand to lose an extra 40 pounds if you change your TDEE by 400 calories a day through exercise. That makes it sound like a better plan, at least to me. Good luck.


09-14-2013, 11:21 PM
BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the number of calories you need to live if you did nothing but lay in bed all day. TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) is the number of calories you actually use based on your activity level.
You just explained TDEE and I understood it! That is a first! 5:2 focuses on TDEE more than BMR (and I've been confused).

09-14-2013, 11:47 PM
Not to sound brutal, but coming from close to the same place you are: eventually you are going to want to strength train for the following reasons:

1. The extra weight you've carried will probably have taken a toll on your joints. Strengthening the muscles around them will help offset some probable future issues/ pain

2. Muscle helps with the appearance of lose skin. I know from personal experience that if I hadn't exercised, my arms and thighs would be mush. They're pretty bad as it is, but at least I can see muscle.

As for not feeling it? I had a scale that lied too, and its a kick in the ***. BUT once you start exercising, you will feel better, both mentally and physically.

09-15-2013, 12:42 AM
You don't need movement for weight loss, but you do need it for health and fitness.

You also don't need to "work out" to improve health and fitness.

I spent most of 2005 and 2007 at 375 lbs, trying to lose weight and failing. I succeeded in keeping off the 20 lbs I had lost without trying as a result of sleep apnea treatment (long story).

While I failed at intentional weight loss, exercise literally saved my life.

I'm still unable to work, but I no longer feel like I'm on the brink of death, and movement did that.

In 2004, I was 394+ lbs and couldn't sleep safely in a bed. I slept in a recliner (and woke in excruciating pain) until my husband used car jacks to jack up the head of the bed so I could sleep and breathe at the same time. Taking a shower for me was like running a marathon for a normal person. My husband had to help me dress and put my shoes on for me.

I started with a pedometer (I clipped it to my shoe through the laces) and just set the goal of beating the previous day's step count (even if only by a few steps).

I didn't always succeed, but I usually did.

I also then started swimming in a warm water therapy pool (90 degrees). OMG that wasn't exercise that was freedom from pain and gravity.

If I could only choose weight loss OR exercise, I would choose exercise, because weight loss makes me look better, but movement has done more to help me feel and function better.

Luckily though, I can choose both, and I don't have to make any change I'm not ready to.

If you're not ready to "work out" then don't.

For me, the biggest obstacle was and is sweating and overheating. When I exercise at a pace that makes me sweat, my body overheats. My face turns bright fuchsia and actually swells...and I start to itch - "allergy" histamine reaction itch, sometimes even accompanied by a rash or hives. If I don't stop when my face turns red, it will progress to an asthma attack.

I can however, workout fairly intensely in water, especially if the water isn't too warm. I eventually was able to give up the 90 degree therapy pool for 82 degree YMCA pool (even though 82 degrees felt frigid at first. So cold I wore a long sleeve polyester spandex blouse over my swimsuit top).

I can now walk and even sweat for short periods on the treadmill if I walk slowly (though I have to stop as soon as I get the "hot itchy" sensation in my face).

You don't have to exercise to lose weight, but you deserve to.

09-15-2013, 01:36 AM
I have lost 47 lbs over the last 5 1/2 months without exercising. I would describe myself as not active at all. Well.. there was that one time I spent 10 minutes on the recumbent bike >< but that's it. I'm 5'7" and calorie count - I target 1200-1400 calories per day. I strive to be very accurate with counting calories, and I have not gone over one day since I started this. I average about 2 lbs per week weight loss.

I'll be honest with you - it feels like I am missing something and I think that something might be exercise. I never in a million years thought I could lose even this amount of weight. At 275, I would huff and puff going up and down stairs, and sometimes curtailed afternoon outings that involved walking because I couldn't handle it :( I have young children and not being able to keep up really made me disappointed in myself. To my shock, I have a somewhat new body now. I have had to adjust to a new reality, one with less limitations. This includes moving and grooving and just generally having more energy! It's like my body wants to get going and challenge itself physically. This weight loss journey has had some real psychological surprises, one of which is that I keep forgetting that I am more physically capable now which makes no sense to me, but there it is!

Exercise is so important for overall health and it can only help as far as physical appearance goes. For me, I think I had to lose some of the weight to even feel capable of considering exercising, but that was mostly just making excuses (and I'm still making excuses :o ) I am very impressed that you were exercising previously. That must have taken dedication! I sincerely hope I start exercising soon. I have no idea why you have plateaued for 2 months. Is it possible your calorie counting, or daily calorie allotment might be off for some reason?

09-15-2013, 02:20 AM
You have gotten very good advise above already. All I can say is that exercise in my case rarely moved the scale. However, I saw results quite fast in terms of my body changing. I also lost a lot of inches despite zero movement on the scale and that alone kept me going and ignoring patches (months) of stalls that I got with dieting. I have done between 30 min to 55 min of exercise 5-6x/week for almost two years now and the results show. My fitness has improved tremendously, my body is tight in most places. Just the last three months, when my weight loss stalled again, I lost one clothing size by simply intensifying my strength training. I do various Jillian Michaels DVDs, nothing else.

So, I recommend doing something even when it appears to slow down weight loss. When I started, I could not even pull in my stomach (yes it was that bad) and I was unable to brush my teeth for the first week, because I could not lift my arm to my mouth. Now, I can do one-legged push-ups and full sit-ups with weights in my hands. That alone puts a smile on my face.

Having said that, you may have to lower calories significantly more to get weight loss going (count your calories!), tweak your carbs or check your thyroids.

09-15-2013, 06:02 AM
Yes and no. I've read the same thing, that sometimes diet is more important than exercise and in some seriously obese people, they lose more weight by diet and bed rest alone and for some time, I believed that in my case, exercise didn't help my weight loss and I actually gained or retained weight when I did it. But this time around I am exercising along with diet and I feel much better and have lost much more than in my other attempts with diet only. It sounds to me like you really want to exercise but the thought of gaining or not losing as much is making you balk, but try to think of exercise as a means to get fitter and improve your health and strength.

09-15-2013, 12:21 PM
What do you want to do?

Many of the responses tell you what you "should" do. But, if you want to enjoy this process, you might want to look inside yourself and find what you like and go from there. One step at a time. Any small change is helpful.

At the end of the day, your most important asset is your mind and emotions. How you feel is where you should start. Take care of your emotions, and you will inevitably take care of yourself. Remove punishment and reward as incentives and replace it with intrinsic motivation. TRUST your internal process. We are all designed by nature to have a drive toward health and wellness.

When you start liking yourself and caring about yourself, you might find that moving your body is a natural extension of that. For me, facing strong feelings while walking keeps me walking longer and harder. I look forward to walking because that's MY time. I can feel and be and know myself without any outside influences. I learn a lot this way. That's the biggest benefit, not just that I'm burning calories.

I'm talking about a lifelong change, not just a get thin quick scheme. Do it right, and you'll only ever have to do it once and for all.

09-15-2013, 12:47 PM
When I lost my 50 lbs I did not exercise. Now, lets define that. I still was active. I have job that has me walking and moving around a lot. 9000 steps or so a day. But for the "exercise" part.. (going to the gym or something) I chose not to do it. I have long felt that it isn't: diet & exercise -- it is diet, motivation, and exercise. With motivation being more important that exercise. If you feel that exercise is something you dislike and will cut down on your motivation.. I wouldn't do it. If you feel exercise is distracting you... making you be careless with calories or hungry so you eat more... I wouldn't do it.

However, when I got close enough to goal that I felt I was ok doing it.. I did it. I started with weight training. This added a whole new aspect / motivation burst as it was something new and different.

Personally, I think it is too much to take on diet and exercise right from the start. It always overwhelms me and saps my motivation.

So I think the answer is no.. you don't have to exercise.

09-15-2013, 01:01 PM
Well, here's the thing. I have gone down 62 lbs since April, but MOST of that was from doing physical activity. I eat way less than my BMR of almost 3000 calories. I've tried bumping how much I do consume up, but it's not working. I'm pretty much stuck. My husband is totally convinced I need to start moving again because my body got used to what I was doing. I have cut enough calories to be losing weight. I think my body is carb resistant. Who knows. I lost so much weight already from pure system shock but I've always been convinced that I'm one of those people who just needs a lot of extra help. I thank everyone for their input. I'm going to try to at least go back to the gym 3x a week for an undetermined amount of time. I'm also going to start watching a little more what I shove in my mouth, but I can guarantee I hardly even ever come close to 2000 calories.

09-15-2013, 01:51 PM
I think exercise is a "whole different ballpark" for us in the higher weight classes or those of us with additional disabilities mainly because we don't acknowledge that it is.

We think of exercise as "working out" in a way that only much fitter people can - walking unassisted for 30 minuted or more - following and completing an exercise class or video tape.

And when we can't keep up or hate every second of it, , we think we "can't exercise" because we don't consider what we can and like to do exercise.

I agree that finding a movement you want to do, and enjoy doing is extremely important. I chose water exercise (as soon as I was able) because I've always loved the water. It's the one place where fat works for us rather than against us.

If you're not ready to add movement, focus on what you are ready to change, but don't be held back wanting to move, but thinking that you can't. Every time you sit instead of lie, stand instead of sit, and walk instead of stand, you are burning more calories than making the more sedentary choice. You don't have to "exercise" in a way that most people would recognize as exercise. Even tapping your foot and swaying to music in your chair or putting dishes away in a high cabinet is exercise if it replaces something less energetic.

One of the best side effects of exercise is seeing progress. It's hard to see weight loss in the mirror, because every day you see pretty much the same as yesterday. The changes don't register, because even on the fastest diet, today's body still looks like yesterday's and we don't "keep" last month's mirror in our heads, at least not easily.

But with exercise, progress can often be easier to see, especially if we look for and celebrate small progresses along the way, especially if we document it all.

In the past, I often gave up when weight loss slowed, because I forgot or didn't think about what I would ne giving up by quitting.

I don't want to go back to sleeping in a modified bed - alone, because hubby can't sleep on the incline or with the noise I and a machine to keep me breathing makes...

Even small things, like tying my own shoes (in the center, not on the sides) are small treasures I don't want to give up.

Small changes can do every bit as much as big ones, they just take longer. Do what you enjoy and find easy-but-not-too easy.

09-15-2013, 02:43 PM
I like what you said, Kaplods, about keeping "last month's mirror" in our head. You're right. This is why people we see every day - or even every week at Church or the grocery store - don't notice our weight loss until it's bigger. Our eyes work the same way. And I realize now - 2 years after the fact - that while I was losing weight I realized I was smaller than photos from Christmas of 2010, but I didn't think I looked that big in the photos taken just a couple weeks before I started to lose weight. I had that attitude even after I'd lost 90 pounds and stopped losing. At first. But NOW when I look at the photos from 2010, my brain sees me as having been fat. There's no other word for it. I think it takes time for us to see (realize?) the truth of the situation and adjust to the current reality.

This is off-topic - sorry. Your comment about the mirror led me off a bit. I do think, however, that it's important to realize this. How we look NOW seems normal to us and as a defense mechanism, perhaps, it takes a while for reality to sink in.


09-15-2013, 02:50 PM
It's entirely possible to lose weight without exercising.
Good luck on your journey!

09-15-2013, 05:33 PM
Wheezypi, I had a DEXA scan done early in the spring, then again four months later. I really wanted to get it done to see what my LBM (lean body mass) was, and then I could figure out my BMR and how much to eat. At 155 lbs. of LBM, I can eat 2092 calories to maintain that. To burn fat and maintain my lean body mass, I lift weights and do about 20 minutes of cardio three times a week, plus Pilates three times a week. In those four months, I put on three pounds of muscle and two pounds of bone.

I only lost half a pound of fat during those four months. At that caloric level, I don't seem to burn fat unless I'm keeping my total carb intake under 100 gms. and completely devoid of grains, tubers, legumes, sugar and fruit. There are days when I choose to eat that stuff, and I'll gain some weight back. I'm starting an eight week block where all that stuff is being cut from my diet. I'll eat lots of non-starchy vegetables, proteins and healthy fats. I'm eliminating alcohol too. I'm actually increasing my workouts, because I want to add more muscle. If I'm on target with my efforts, I should lose a good bit of fat.

But I won't ever stop exercising, because when we cut calories and don't exercise, the weight we lose is both fat and muscle. And that makes our metabolic rate go down, and then we just need to cut more and more calories to lose weight. That is a vicious cycle!