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Is an ‘Exercise Halo’ Preventing You From Losing Weight?

I went to the gym with my hubby Saturday and we both had particularly great workouts (you know when you just feel totally energized and ‘in the zone’?). On our walk home I said, “I feel so good, let’s stop at the Farmer’s Market to load up up fruits and veggies!” He was thinking just the opposite, that his tough workout earned him the right to splurge.

 

Sometimes I see this pattern with my clients. Feeling virtuous post-workout is awesome, but when it leads to overindulging, it can prevent you from seeing results.

 

Here’s what I mean:

 

If a 150 pound person took a one hour body sculpting class, ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes (at 5.5 mph) and put in 30 minutes on the elliptical, the total calorie burn would be about 750, pretty great!

 

But a post-exercise meal of half a basket of chips and salsa, an order of chicken fajitas and one frozen margarita racks up a whopping 2,030 calories.

 

If you’re prone to overindulgences after kick-booty workouts, try this trick: use the Calorie Burn Tool here on Shape.com to calculate the fruits of your labor. If you’re trying to lose weight, aim to cap your splurge at about 50% of that number when the urge strikes (note: this assumes you have NOT already factored your workout into your daily calorie needs).

 

Realistically, that probably means splitting an appetizer or dessert with a friend instead of diving into a decadent meal with drinks. That may seem like a bummer, but the good news is ‘splurging with a strategy’ means you won’t find yourself stuck in weight loss quicksand!

 

Do you tend to overestimate your calorie burn and underestimate your calorie intake? Do you struggle with a pattern of eating back more than you burn? Please share your thoughts!

 

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