Craig Leonard

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Using Exercise to Justify Unhealthy Eating Is Unreasonable (Here’s Why)

Craig Leonard November 27, 2014
Stop Ruining Your Workouts

We all have different motivations for why we make it a priority to exercise regularly and strategize the foods we’re eating. Perhaps you want to run faster, jump higher, have more energy, be healthier, look better, feel better, have less stress, have less body fat, be stronger, look stronger, have more self-confidence, get your spouse to engage in “sexy time” a little more often, or some combination of these.

Now, I’m generally not one to tell others what should motivate them. That’s a personal matter, and if something gets you to move your body on a regular basis, I’m usually for it.

That said, it’s beyond my ability to fathom how people whose goal it is to get a lean and sexy physique can work their butts off at the gym, only to ruin whatever results their hard work might have afforded them, by immediately “rewarding” themselves with a pint of ice cream, a fountain soda, or some other calorie-dense, fat-amassing food.

Is that really what all their hard work was invested for? A frigging cupcake?!?

Too many times I’ve heard someone justify a poor food decision with the fact that they worked out earlier in the day or will be working out later. I’m sorry, but I can’t stand for such nonsense. More importantly, I can’t allow myself to let you sell yourself short like that.

I get that delayed gratification is a lost virtue in today’s world, but that junk food or cheat meal you think you’ve earned is preventing you from experiencing the progress you deserve from your training. Are temporary food pleasures really more important to you than the innumerable benefits you’d experience if you’d only abstain from eating your favorite comfort foods, except for on rare occasions?

By the way, don’t forget that those foods that you think are so rewarding only feel that way because you’ve developed an addiction to them. Once you begin the process of breaking yourself from your addiction to unhealthy foods, they will slowly become less and less titillating.

Yes, it’s possible to replace your addiction to any junk food with a desire to consume healthy, nutritious foods that won’t prevent you from achieving your goals (here’s proof).

Few things feel as gratifying as completing an intense session of exercise. A significant piece of that gratifying feeling, though, is knowing the potential the hard work we’ve just exerted has for making us better in all the ways I listed in the introductory paragraph of this posting, and so many more.

Instead of giving you an excuse to consume a bunch of crap food, that feeling of gratification should motivate you to feed your body in a way that will allow you to maximize the transformative impact of your efforts.

After all, isn’t that the real reason you put forth the effort in the first place? I have yet to meet someone who decided to join a gym and start exercising 3 or more days a week so they could eat a half-pound of Twizzlers every night with a clear conscience.

That’s not why people workout. That’s not what motivates us. I’m sorry, it just isn’t. And you can’t convince me otherwise.

Deep down we all desire more for ourselves than something so temporary, shallow, meaningless, and unfulfilling. We desire and expect that the hard work we invest in training our bodies will produce results; beneficial results, measurable results, tangible results, lasting results, results we can take pride in, and results that will inspire others.

I’m here to tell you that results like these will NEVER be produced if your training is simply used to justify eating a box of Twinkies or downing a 32-ounce Mountain Dew.

It’s time to stop giving in to the temptation to immediately gratify ourselves and instead focus on the infinitely more gratifying prize that awaits those of us who are willing to put forth the discipline required to attain it. You deserve better than a few moments of gratification for your efforts. Your hard work is worth so much more than that.

And, the next time you begin pondering using your time spent exercising as a means of justifying your being deserving of an unhealthy “treat”, I hope you’ll think about all that you’ll be sacrificing. The choices you make in the approximately 23-hour span of time in which you aren’t exercising each day are what ultimately determine how effective your training will be at progressing you toward your goals.

Remember, your workouts don’t earn you the opportunity to gorge on junk food; They earn you the potential for positive transformation. What you’re really doing when you use your workouts as an excuse for eating crap is trading in all the valuable, long-term, tangible results you would otherwise receive for a few paltry moments of dietary indulgence.

In case it isn’t painfully evident, let me be clear in saying that this is a terrible investment of your time and energy. You’re free to make that choice, of course, but you’d be sacrificing an infinitely greater return on your investment by doing so.

Junk food or results… The choice is yours.

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