Obesity is a serious problem in the Western world. Millions of people in the USA and Europe are fighting a losing battle with the scales, and a big part of the reason why they fail in their diets is that they make the mistake of thinking that weight loss is something that only happens in the kitchen and at the dinner table.

It’s certainly true that what you eat, and how much you eat, is important, but trying to lose weight via diet alone is incredibly difficult. Even if you follow a nutritionally sound and satisfying diet such as the Paleo diet, you will struggle to create a sustained calorie deficit while enjoying enough food to satisfy your appetite if you do not exercise. Exercise burns calories, and you can exploit that fact to either speed up your existing weight loss or increase your daily “calorie budget” to allow you to eat a little more each day without slowing down your existing rate of weight loss. This flexibility is valuable when you are getting closer to your ideal weight.

The mantra “eat less, move more” is often repeated in fitness circles. It’s easy to dismiss the people saying those words as smug people who “just don’t understand because they’ve always been slim”, but their words are true. Movement is just as important as diet. The question that would-be dieters should be asking themselves is how can they make a new nutrition plan, and a lifestyle with more movement, a part of their normal routine?

Diet vs. Lifestyle

If you ask anyone who has been following the Paleo diet for more than a couple of years how they have stuck to it so long, you will notice a common theme in the answers. The people who succeed at the Paleo diet don’t think of it as a diet. They think of it as a series of lifestyle choices. Instead of deciding that they “aren’t allowed white bread”, they think about how they’re looking forward to some grass-fed beef. The same is true for exercise. Instead of going to the gym to run on the treadmill, find something you really enjoy.

Remember that your body cannot tell the difference between a workout on an expensive machine at 24 Hour Fitness or a jog around a beautiful country park. All your body knows is that it’s enjoying a chance to send some blood to those muscles that are stiff after a day sitting at a desk. Our bodies are designed to do a lot of movement, and once you get used to exercising you will come to look forward to it.

Some people enjoy aerobics or Zumba, some people enjoy team sports and others enjoy martial arts or lifting weights. What you do doesn’t matter, so long as you do it consistently and make it a part of your routine. If you need to use willpower to make yourself go to the gym, or to make yourself stick to a highly calorie-restricted diet, you are setting yourself up for failure.