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Separating Diet and Exercise, Part 1



This pie chart is just for fun; it came up when I Googled "fitness 20% nutrition 80% pie chart." I was looking for a graphic that would represent that recent dogma. As a fitness-oriented nutritionist, I've been hearing it a lot in the last couple of years. Heck, I've been SAYING it. So - what IS it, exactly? Kind of exactly what it sounds like: if you want to achieve physical change in your body, you need to know that exercise makes up a paltry 20% of that equation, while nutrition makes up the overwhelming bulk of it, at 80%. "You can't out-train a bad diet" would be the fitspiration version of this message. Abs are made in the kitchen, goshdarnit! I definitely (obviously) believe that great, supportive nutrition will help you achieve a level of health and happiness that you probably thought you weren't capable of. As far as weight loss is concerned, I can say with great authority that tidying up your diet will get you there. I also believe that exercise is amazing. It makes you stronger. It creates power. Balance, stability, agility. It clears your mind. It gets blood and oxygen moving - the two vehicles that deliver energy and vitality from head to toe. It is essential for the health of your heart, the health of your bones. It can make you a badass. But I really feel a need to separate these two things; have them live on their own, individually. Exercise for the benefits of fitness. Eat well for the benefits of nutrition. When we blur the lines and decide that diet-and-exercise are two halves of some kind of wellness whole, it sets us up for failure, confusion, disappointment. It's the never-ending cycle of "I thought I was doing everything right but it just isn't working" that keeps people like me in business. I feel it creates a culture of not appreciating the amazing biochemical beauty of the human body. You can burn all the calories in the world but what if you're battling a food intolerance? You can spend two hours a day on the elliptical machine, but what if you're going through menopause? You can set a PR for your back squat, but what if your insulin is out of balance? Exercise is important. Nutrition is important. Two very true, very separate wellness statements.


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