It’s More About What You EAT

Have you ever heard that you can’t out exercise a bad diet?

You can't out exercise a bad diet

For the first 75 pounds or so of the 104 I lost, I only walked.  Occasionally.  I still lost over 75 pounds walking…occasionally.

My sister talked about how hard it was for her to walk the Color Me Rad 5k.  I was so proud of her because it was hard.  It was a hard race.  But…she did it.  Her body hurt afterwards but she did it!  She lapped everyone sitting at home on the couch!

Lately, I have been exercising almost every day.  But…my eating has sucked!  I have eaten so much and so many bad things.  I don’t know what is wrong with me.  If it is around, I have been eating it.  Oh…but I have been working out so it will balance out, right?


Weight loss is MOSTLY about what you EAT.  I have heard a statistic that it is 80% what you put in your mouth.  That is how I was able to lose 75 pounds with little to no exercise.  I was watching what I ate.  I didn’t LIKE to exercise.  I felt too much stuff jiggling around.  My knees hurt.  My back hurt.  My whole body would ache.  Plus, if I were really careful what I ate, I would still lose weight – without exercise!

Am I telling you that you don’t NEED to exercise?  Absolutely not!  Exercise does so many good things for your body.  It releases so many good endorphins, strengthens your heart, makes you stronger and helps relieve stress.  Exercise rocks!  BUT…it is not essential for weight loss – especially if you have a lot to lose!

So, I am screwed this week.  I have done really bad with eating but still exercised and I know that is not how it works.  I just have to get my eating back under wraps and get back on track.  Now!

I am committing to you that I will track every-single-thing I put in my mouth tomorrow and the rest of this week!   I will track and count and measure so that I know that I am back on track.  If I don’t, God help my weigh in this week!

I just want to encourage you, if you are obese and exercise is super uncomfortable for you, don’t.  Give yourself some time to shed some weight before you go full force into exercise.  Just watch what you put in your mouth and track everything!  You will lose weight and get to the point where your body will actually crave activity.  It is so weird and crazy when that happens but it WILL happen!

Watch what you eat and watch the pounds come off.  Exercise, they might come off a little faster.

Are you a regular exerciser or an occasional exerciser?


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  • Shannon Tatlock

    I’m not a regular exerciser, at all. I don’t really enjoy it. I’ve done a little running and biking and I’m enjoying that, but I don’t do anything consistently. I’m with you, 80% of it is what you eat. I read on a blog recently (can’t remember who) that you fight the food battle in the grocery aisle. Win it once there and then you don’t have to win over and over again, looking at it on your shelves. It really stuck with me and something I’ve really focused on recently. :)

  • Felicity

    Back on track… you can do it! Obviously you know how.

  • Nicki Morrison

    Regular! I run 3 or 4 miles three times a week, attend strength training class twice a week and do step aerobics every Monday. I’m not losing though because I’ve totally lost the eating piece. Ugh. I need to take your lead and get back on track. Seriously.

  • Abby

    Since starting my journey, I have become an regular exerciser. I too started out walking but within a month or so, I craved more. So far, I’ve lost 50 pounds and I can actually jog a few minutes at a time now. It feels so good! One of my goals a few weeks ago was to track everything I ate too, it’s an easy habit to break! You got it though! I predict great weigh ins soon for you, my friend!

  • Tracy

    In 2000/2001 I lost 80+ lbs with no exercise … at all. I hated it. I still do. But I’m starting again (all those lbs + more back) and this time I joined a gym (just last week). But you’re totally right, those 80 lbs came off in about 8 months with no exercise. But I tracked what I ate religiously!

  • Kim

    I’m a regular exerciser but I still try to out exercise my diet!! Never gonna happen but I like a lot of junk!!

  • Laura SB

    I have begun to be a regular exerciser again. I workout around 3 times a week and I am working on getting that number up to at least 4. I love to lift weights and I am so happy to finally see some results from it. When I exercise it is in the morning at about 4 A.M. so I know if I can do it, so can anyone.

  • Bitch on a Diet

    Completely 100% agree! I’ve been trying to make better food decisions and finally joined online version of Weight Watchers last week and have noticed I’ve def been trying to eat more fruits and veggies. The one bad thing about it though is it is so easy to just say screw it for one day and then ruin your whole progress for the week! ugh!

  • Liz Marcellus

    thanks for the tips! I just started eating better and counting calories. I’m sure if I stick to it I will loose some since I have so much to loose!

  • Jon Kidwell

    You are so right about not being able to out exercise what you eat. It is a lot easier and faster to eat a pizza than exercise one off.

    It is possible to lose weight without exercise, but it will be A LOT harder.

    The combination of a healthy diet that track calories and exercise work hand in hand to burn fat, build muscle, and compliment the work of its counterpart.

    Doing one without the other is like trying to kayak using a canoe oar instead of a two-sided kayak paddle. It can be done, but it will be more difficult and there is a lot of back and forth movement instead of forward progress.

    I urge you to continue to exercise, even if it is only walking. Try to get at least 30 minutes of activity everyday in combination with counting calories for continued success.

  • Stacey GetsitGraded Black

    So sorry that you’ve been off track and eating horrible… buuuuuut man it feels good to read about someone who is struggling just the same as me. For the past month I’ve had such a hard time getting on track. Being home during the summer has me so off schedule and making good food choices seems to be super hard these days. As much as I love the summer my body is craving the routine of the school year! Good luck getting back on track!

  • Ruby Zamudio

    I need help, I learned about the 80 is about how you eat and 20 about the exercise but I’m having trouble. I’m around 80 pounds over weight but I would be so happy losing even 50 but I dont know how to start. I know I’ve gained weight because of overeating, emotional eating, and eating chips (hot cheetos). But I really want to stop but I dont even know what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Can you help me with links or just some advice of what I should be doing to lose weight? Please I would really appreciate it.

    • Jennifer Swafford

      Thank you for reaching out, Ruby. I have written lots of blog posts on what to eat and how much! A great place to start is to read the posts in my weekly weigh in categories. LOTS of those have to do with eating and topics that Weight Watchers has discussed. If you can afford the program, I would suggest going to meetings. They will teach you everything and they are so helpful! Good luck!

  • Katherine Huether

    I have recently been going through my own “get healthy” process. Mainly, I am working on fixing my eating habits and exercising more. I am taking my time with it so that I can do it right. I am glad I found your blog!

  • Karen H.

    I’m definitely an occasional exerciser. My goal this month was to make exercise a regular part of my life, but I got sick and that has taken me a few weeks to get over. Anyway, I agree with your post and I’m glad you wrote it. I need to stop being so hard on myself for not exercising. I have lost 44 pounds in about 3 months by watching what I eat. I have never lost that much weight in my life. Usually I would do cardio 4-6 days a week and the weight wouldn’t budge because I was eating the same bad stuff.

    In a sense, for me, it is easier to exercise than it is to eat right. That may sound crazy since I’m struggling right now to make exercise a regular part of my life. Here’s how I look at it. Weight loss is a 2 part equation: calories in (eating) and calories out (activity). I’ve always been able to focus and make strides in one part of the equation. That’s mostly been exercise because even if you do it 5-6 days a week, it only takes about one hour max on each of those days. So that’s six hours a week max and with exercise a little goes a long way as far as cardiovascular improvement. Not to mention the variety of activities to choose from. On the other hand, eating is a constant struggle. How often, how much, the quantities of macro-nutrients per meal, etc? Do I eat clean, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low carb, etc? It’s a lot to figure out and it gets stressful at times.

    I’m taking it in baby steps. It’s working well for me. I will eventually get to where I need to be with exercise and eating, but I’m definitely going to stop beating myself up. Thanks Jennifer. :-)

  • Jennifer Westra Blackham

    Prior to May2006, I was not an exerciser. I lost 20 pounds quick (due to a stressful situation) and then 30 more pounds over the next three months with walking and weights. I would try to track food, but wasn’t consistent. I have stayed VERY active since then … and the weight has still come back, slowly but surely. I’m a prime example of “you can’t out cardio your calories” … although if I wasn’t tracking, I really didn’t know how many I was consuming. I was burning 3000 a day on average (according to my Fitbit) … and I actually think I WAS eating that back and more (and some days, not getting my full exercise in, I did slip and slow down a bit, although I never stopped).

    But I do actually enjoy exercise … I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life.

    I joined MFP in May of this year and I’m seeing success as I count calories. I hope to make the food tracking as much a part of my life as the exercise …

  • Trevon James

    I fell everyone here, because thats exactly what i used to think/do.
    Oh well, since im excercising like a gym rat, i could sin more often! boy i was so wrong. The more i exercised, the more i ate! and guess what, Weight will catch up, i was always hungry, no matter how much i ate.

    Luckily i came across what i now call my ” Miracle Pill “, and yes, dont laugh, its true! Skinny fiber has done amazing things in my life. Helps me with the hunger, as supresses your hunger, helped me sleeping better and recovering faster from workouts, had lowered my sugar/blood levels, so i know for a fact, that Skinny Fiber is working. Ive lost as of today a total of 8 pounds in a 30 day period, without altering any routine, or changing my life, Skinny Fiber works!!! i was so sceptical at the beggining, but today i can say it works!

    More information about this amazing pill can be found here

    Give yourself the chance to change,once and for all.

    good luck everyone!

  • Anthony

    I too was struggling to find a way to shed the body that wasn’t me until, I found that going back to the basics of nutrition resulted in myself losing over 40lbs of FAT! I have compiled all the articles that I used on myself to loose all the weight here at

  • Brandy Bennett

    You are definitely hitting the nail on the head!

  • Chelsea Sawyer

    I certainly agree with you. With today’s fast-paced life, we tend to settle with food items that are not really healthy. If we really want to lose weight and attain a fitter body, we have to make good food choices.

  • Phil Deans

    I agree that exercise in losing weight is far less important.I have lost nearly 60 lbs in the last 5 months working with Dr Tiffany Wright and the skinny coach solution.My program is based on an abstinence plan that excludes flour and sugar.

  • Lisa Eirene

    I think it’s a combination of both. But I do think the food component is probably 70% of the success. I counted my calories and exercised in order to lose 110 pounds. I don’t think I would have been as successful had I done only one of those!

  • Mars Larson

    I am a regular exerciser and I disagree that you cannot out exercise a bad diet. I think it depends on the person. I can diet all I want, but without exercise, I won’t lose anything unless I drop my calorie content to under 1200 a day(it’s probably because I cannot eat a lot of other people’s “healthy” options, like broccoli or cabbage). But if I simply walk, hike or bike every day, the weight comes off. AND I can have that piece of chocolate cake if I want to, so I never feel like I “can’t have THAT”. Trying to stay at under 1200 calories a day feels like I am hungry all the time and deprived. And the second I stop doing that without exercise, I gain weight. Getting into the habit of walking for 30-45 minutes is a lifestyle change I can live with forever. (and it has other health benefits that watching what I eat won’t)

    If I am constantly tracking calories, I am obsessing over food, which makes me think more about food. When I exercise,my body will actually crave food that is better for me. For me, exercise is a no brainer.