When I talk to people who are beginning their weight loss journeys, they often focus the conversation on exercise, assuming that it’s the quickest and easiest way to lose weight and get healthy. Many people even say that they exercise solely so that they can eat whatever they want. It burns calories, right? So why wouldn’t that work?

The truth? You can’t out-train a bad diet. Exercise and diet are two very different things, with very different benefits. 

While exercise does burn calories, it’s main purpose is to help our bodies become more fit and efficient. It helps our lungs grow stronger and our muscles grow bigger. We become more flexible, improve our balance, and even lower our blood pressure through exercise. Yes, we burn calories too, but that should never be the main reason you exercise.

Cleaning up your diet can be hard; we battle cravings and convenience while trying to make healthy choices. For drivers on the road, eating healthy is often much more difficult than it is at home, simply because of availability. However, our diet is the majority of what determines our weight and it can’t be neglected. I write a lot about how to improve your diet and make healthier choices, and I will continue to do so, but today I want to keep the focus on exercise, specifically for weight loss.

I often tell people that diet should be about 2/3 of your focus, and exercise should be 1/3 of it. That’s because exercise is still crucial in becoming healthy, as well as in getting the best results possible.

A perfectly healthy diet will yield great weight loss results, but it won’t magically build muscle or improve your ability to run 5km without the help of exercise. You may hit your goal weight, but still feel sluggish, soft, or unsatisfied with your results, as you physically may not be

Exercise and diet really do go hand-in-hand when looking to lose weight or get fit, so it is important to incorporate both into your lifestyle. However, if weight loss is your goal, there are some ways to help maximize your results.

The best way to do this is with workouts that challenge your muscles and get your heart pumping! 

Strength training, like weight lifting or body weight exercises (think push ups, squats), builds muscle mass, visibly improving your overall shape and strength. You’ll feel fit, confident, and healthy – a far better goal than simply being “skinny.” You’ll still have body fat, though, which is why you still want to focus on eating properly. Think of it this way, you shed body fat in the kitchen and build muscle in the gym! If you want to get started with weight lifting, there are many ways to do so. Search online on resources like bodybuilding.com for weight training workouts, or stream workouts through an app or YouTube. Pick up a couple of pairs of dumbbells or resistance bands for at home or on the road workouts, or hit the gym for more equipment options!

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts are another great way maximize your results. They combine slower paced, muscle building moves with intense, heart-pounding exercises, giving a rise and fall in heart rate, and additional fat-burning benefits. These workouts are typically quite short since they are so intense, and require very little equipment, making them great for working out on the go.

Ready to try a HIIT workout? Head to Youtube or Google and search “Beginner HIIT workout” or add in any other specifications you may have, like “15 minutes” or “no equipment” based on your interest and needs.

Have fun with your exercise routine! Exercise is not a way to punish your body for being overweight or for eating too much yesterday; it’s a way to become stronger and healthier, in addition to a healthy diet.