People work out for a wide variety of reasons.
The real question here is, do you work out for the right reason? Quite often people say things like “I worked out today so I can eat half of this cake”, “I worked out today so I can drink tonight”, or “I’ll just have these five chocolate bars; it’s fine as long as I work out today.” I’ve justified unhealthy habits using exercise before, and it has affected me negatively. I hope that I can help you to avoid those unhealthy habits and work out to better your overall wellness.
Don’t Waste Your Work Out
If someone told you that they would give you $100 right now, but as soon as they hand it to you, you have to catch it on fire, how would you feel?
Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that a little splurging every now and again is going to completely ruin your workout. A piece of cake or some ice cream for birthday parties is totally reasonable, and so are a lot of other mini cheat meals. However, if you are doing this every time you hit the gym, are you really benefitting?
Most people struggle to stay consistent in the gym in the first place, and it’s easy to understand why this is so hard. You are essentially tricking your brain into thinking that it’s okay to push your body to it’s limits in order to achieve a goal almost every single day. That’s why sticking to a solid fitness plan takes such hard work and dedication and most people can’t manage to do so.
This is also a primary reason for the existence of this page. You should be motivated to live healthy for reasons other than that piece of cake or couple beers after the workout, and hopefully these articles are offering you some of that motivation.
By taking in unhealthy food and drink directly after your workout you are directly hindering your bodies ability to recover. One of the leading purposes of working out is to metabolize fat which can translate to healthy blood sugar levels, strong hearts, and helping your body naturally prevent disease in the future.
However, multiple studies show that eating junk food can counteract working out through negative effects on your metabolism. In fact, one specific study involving 12 college-aged healthy men showed that eating a primarily junk food diet for just 5 days resulted in a reduction of the muscles’ ability to oxidize glucose after a meal. This can lead to diabetes down the road.
Does the question above seem valid yet? If you are one of the many people wasting your workouts, what can you do to change these habits? Do you want to change these habits?
4 Ways To Stop Rewarding Yourself With Junk Food
1. Recognize it. Sometimes it’s hard to know what foods are junk foods. By studying up on foods that are nutritiously invaluable you will be more prone to understand that what you are putting in your body is maybe not the best for you. Recognizing foods for what they really are (high in refined carbohydrates, high in saturated or trans-fat, or containing an overwhelming amount of bad simple sugar) can allow you to make conscious decisions against eating them, especially right after a workout when you feel like you just conquered the world.
2. Get rid of it. This one is easy. It may be painful at first, but after you revamp your pantry you will be more than happy with the results you see due to diet change. Throw all of that nasty stuff in your pantry in the garbage and don’t purchase any more at the grocery store.
3. Keep track of it. Keeping track of your diet can do more than you think. If you saw that you were eating an alarming amount of junk food daily, or even weekly, would you start to feel a little bit guilty? Most likely the answer is yes. If you write down every junk food item you eat throughout the day, you will be more inspired to cross things off this list as time goes on. Holding yourself accountable for bad habits is a key way to break any bad habit including impulse unhealthy eating.
4. Replace it with healthy, nutritious snacks. Sometimes your body may end up lacking sugar or salts after an intense work out. This is totally understandable and can actually be a driving force behind your urge to eat unhealthy foods. You’ll be happy to know that there are a number of ways to replace your junk food cravings with healthy sugars and salts. Take in some fruit; freeze dried fruits are great for carrying with you to eat right after a workout. Dark chocolate can be a great sugar replacement as well. Also, you can eat a small handful of lightly salted almonds right after your workout to replenish salts lost during intense sweating. That, or blend all these things up in a NutriBullet as soon as you get home.
How You Will Benefit In The Long Run
Eating nutritious foods after the gym doesn’t just benefit you in terms of short term recovery, it directly contributes to a long-lasting, energetic life. Just a few quick examples of the effects of a wholesome, nutritious diet are:
- A dramatically decreased resting heart rate. Why make your heart work harder than it already does to keep you alive? It’s like anything with an estimated useful life, the more times it cycles, the faster it wears out.
- Decreased blood pressure. This reduces your risk of stroke later in life. High blood pressure puts unnecessary stress on your blood vessels and can lead to numerous health problems for old you.
- Maximized oxygen uptake. The ability your body has to take in oxygen is limited when you eat terrible foods and ignore good exercise habits. This means that you can’t consume as much oxygen, starving your cells for one of their most vital nutrients.
- Increased lactate threshold. What this means is that you can naturally increase your muscles ability to work out for long periods of time without accumulating lactic acid. There are many negative effects of lactic acid build up, so muscle stamina is important.
- You look damn good. If living much longer and having more strength and energy aren’t incentive enough. You will probably start to shed the unnecessary pounds. This leads to a slimmer face, vibrant and clear skin, and great muscle definition. So at the very least, you start to achieve that overall aesthetic that you’ve been going for.
If these tips have helped encourage you to eat better after the gym, or pursue a healthier lifestyle in general, please leave a comment below and let’s talk about it. We sincerely hope that reading this article has helped you realize your goals and start being more mindful of your body as you embark on your health and wellness journey.
16 thoughts on “Do You Work Out For The Right Reason?”
Hi Dalton, I do not work out at all, I was thinking of getting a bike actually, as I am not a gym kind of person and hoping this would be something I could get into.
I also have a job with little physical activity and I do eat junk food, and I don’t track it, so, not great!!!
I need to get motivated…this is the tough part…how do you go about this?
Thanks for reading! Bikes are a great solution. They can get you outside and you can actually explore some awesome roads with a solid bike. I have quite a few friends who ride religiously and they love it. They get to see the countryside on the weekends and get in shape while doing it.
You always have to find what you enjoy, and if cycling gets you active, then I suggest go for it. Also, having a low activity job isn’t necessarily terrible, and eating junk food is tough to kick. I know that if you keep track and consciously work at it you can kick that habit no problem. Also, I wouldn’t blame you if you did grub out on some junk every so often, it is good for the soul once in a great while.
Motivation is definitely the hardest part. I think that I personally stay motivated to live longer and stick around to see as much of the world as I can. I was recently talking to a friend of mine and told her some days I really don’t feel like making it happen. On those days I designate a specific time to go to the gym, I set an alarm on my phone, and when that alarm goes off I walk out the door and don’t come back inside for any reason.
I have found that this works as a strategy for me, and who knows, maybe it’ll work for you!
Let me know,
This post hit home for me. I worked out and lost so much weight and then bam my motivation was gone.. Reading your post about what junk food does kicked some motivation back into. Also I don’t want to have health problems down the road. I know I can’t jump into a killer workout but I will start with walking and eating right.
It’s crazy sometimes we just need a little bit of outside influence to get back into the swing of things. I’m glad I was able to shed some light on the harmful effects of that stuff.
Walking and eating right can do wonders for you. Honestly there are so many people in the world that don’t even try to be active so mad props to you for getting up and out in the first place.
Also, walking is great because you get to see the great big outdoors while you’re at it!
Thanks for reading,
Great post. I had a stretch of time where I was hitting the gym Monday through Friday and I was really looking good (not saying that I look bad now) lol but i got complacent and just stopped going and started eating more freely and it has caused me to put on a few pounds.
My biggest issue is even though I’m not satisfied with my size other people always say that I look fine and I don’t need to lose any weight so I just kind of put it off. This post was kind of a wake up call for me because it shined the light on some more important issue’s than just looking good. The health issues are more important to me and I really don’t want to get to a point to where things are out of control health wise for me. So I just wanted to say thanks for the post it was very informative and reassuring for me.
Hey there Ian,
I’m really glad you enjoyed the post. It’s nice when you can be consistent and feel good as well as look good. It definitely helps with self confidence.
Also it’s very tough to not be hardest on yourself. I know that I’m in okay shape but I’m always striving to gain weight or pack on more muscle because I feel too skinny. I know it seems as if we have a slightly different problem here but your own perception of yourself is often times a great tool to use to be more healthy.
Aside from looks, the health benefits of being consistent are overwhelming. I really hope that this has helped you out and the wake up call gets ya motivated to go back! I’m sure you look great even if you don’t think so and I’m sure that you’re about to crush it in the gym and with your diet all over again.
Keep up the good work.
Excellent points. I for one, totally agree that writing down and keeping track of what you eat throughout the day will help change your habits. I have an app in my phone that I add my meals to, and it really helps motivate me to be better. And when I have a bad day.. I sure DO feel guilty. Holding myself accountable to it and ensures that I am much more likely to stay on track. Great article… thank you.
Glad you agreed there. I didn’t even think to suggest an app, that’s actually a great idea! I’m usually a pen and paper kind of person which is weird being an old school millennial, but I bet that helps a ton.
It’s funny because usually people think of guilt in a negative context, but when I make myself feel guilty it is usually just an indicator that I am not doing something that I have previously committed to in order to truly better myself as a person in some way, shape, or form.
I’m glad you use your guilt as positive reinforcement rather than letting it get you down!
Hi Dalton, my case here is different. I don’t do junk food, well occasionally. My challenge is I recently started working out at home, two months in. I started off well and even managed to stay consistent through the muscle pains. Recently however I have to drag myself to do my morning workouts. How do I overcome the sudden boredom. Any Ideas? Thanks in advance
It’s always tough not to burn yourself out on working out. The same old routine can really start to grind your gears and you can lose steam pretty quickly. I try and mix it up as much as possible. If you are working out in your living room pretty consistently, try doing something outside on the lawn next time. Also if there’s a possibility of getting out and doing some cardio in your neighborhood that’s also a great option.
Working out from home was one of the toughest things I ever tried and now that I think of it maybe I will explain my experience with home workouts in the future!
Two months is actually a pretty long time to stay consistent. And really it is much more than most people. So congratulations on reaching that goal! Once it becomes routine it is pretty easy to keep the ball rolling, and I just really encourage you to try new exercise or maybe a 12-week program that fits your body and your needs/goals.
If you want a little pick me up in the mornings, snag a few ounces of black coffee. It’s a little brutal to drink if you aren’t a coffee fan but overall it’ll give you a kick in the butt to get the workout in!
I enjoyed reading your post. I completely agree that rewarding yourself with junk food after workout is not good idea – I know because i have done it in the past.
Now I opt for healthy foods and not so much drinks – I just do water. Thank you for the info!
I think once you’ve done this and know from personal experience, and manage to make that huge change, it really sheds some light on the benefits you see from limiting that post workout reward junk food! Glad you enjoyed reading and opting for healthy food and drinks is the right way to go, especially water!
This is a great post! I personally have worked out most of my life since I’m a wrestler and find that a lot of people who aren’t working out with a purpose end up going to the gym or workout only to put destructive things into their body that end up hurting them and defeating the purpose of their workout. I also like the study you add to support your view as to why people should look at the long term effects of their workout and how to put the right things in their body.
Thanks for the read. Having an athletic background can really make you think twice and I’m glad you agreed here. I really hope that people reading just really focus in on a solid purpose and avoid the long term junk diet!
I really liked reading this post on working out for the right reasons and I do work out all the time but I don’t really watch what I eat which now I know that dieting is the reason why I don’t have the complete body that I want. Do you have any recommendations on diets?
Thanks for reading my friend. I actually wrote an article about the Paleo Diet here:
I personally have been sticking pretty close to that. It seems like it keeps me pretty lean and I have tons of energy so that’s helpful.
Any diet you choose just make sure you stick with it for at least 30 days or so that’ll really tell you how it will shape up. But, if you keep up on the exercise and the diet at the same time I’m sure you’ll see results.
The best single bit of advice I can give is to cut out all the added sugars. Keep it natural and that’ll do wonders.
Hope that helps!