There are (at least) two necessary ingredients when it comes to living a long and healthy life: diet and fitness. While some believe that they are one thing all together, nothing could be further from the truth. It is quite possible to have a perfectly healthy diet, while also having deplorable exercising habits. It’s also quite possible to be in great shape and still eat like crap, especially if you workout like a crazy person.
There's a great lyric in the Jimmy Buffet song "Fruitcakes" when his 'lady' is lamenting:
"I treat my body like a temple
You treat your’s like a tent."
I can't help but think of this line whenever I think about all the people around the world who are going on these garbage in, garbage out diet plans they see online, hoping to achieve the weight loss success of the Instagram celebrities promoting them. Although, those same celebrities do often provide some great workout motivation.
To be completely honest, it is possible to shed pounds through diet alone. It’s difficult for sure, but definitely possible. It’s also possible to be physically fit and have a few extra pounds hanging around. To a large degree, we are what we eat. To be more accurate, we are what we eat eats, but that’s a topic for a different day. If we consume a high fat, low substance (empty calories) diet, our bodies are going to lack the fuel required to burn the fat. At the same time, if we aren't providing our bodies with the tools it needs to build muscle (protein), it doesn't matter how many weights we lift.
When it comes to diet and fitness, the best results are achieved when they work together rather than separately. Use your exercise routine to burn excess calories and use your diet in order to properly provide your body the nutrients and fuel it needs to build muscle. I've heard many times in my life that a pound of muscle weighs less than a pound of fat. While this is not true at all, (a pound is a pound regardless), a pound of muscle does occupy less space on the body than a pound of fat.
You should also realize that as you are building muscle you may be shedding inches while not showing a great deal of progress on the scale. It is very important that you keep this in mind throughout the weight loss process. Do not measure your progress by the scales alone or you will achieve misleading results. The problem is that far too many people do just this and get frustrated and give up when they are actually making progress. Do not allow yourself to be a victim of the scales. Look in the mirror, try on your tight pants, and measure your waistline. Measure your success by how you feel after climbing a flight of stairs not by how many pounds fell of the scale this week.
By incorporating fitness into your diet routine you are also enabling your body to burn off any extra calories you may have consumed during the day. This means that if you want to have a small 'cheat' during your day, you can make up for it by burning a few more calories than normal in the evening. This isn't something that should happen often, but an occasional occurrence isn't going to make or break your diet.
An added bonus of having a disciplined diet & exercise routine is the cognitive enhancing benefits. The brain-gut connection is something scientist are learning more about everyday, but it’s already been well established that feeding your body the right vitamins and nutrients has a profound effect on your mental capabilities.
You should also look at dieting and fitness as a “ball & glove” type of relationship. While you can play ball without the glove, it seems to work so much better if you have both. Diet and fitness, when combined, can create fantastic weight loss results for those who take them both seriously. The thing to remember is that neither works as well alone, and neither will work at all unless you are willing to put in the effort. You have to make this a top priority in your life if you want to achieve the best possible results.