15 + 1 + 8 = You Do the Math

By , SparkPeople Blogger
How hard do you work out?  Are you one of those people who gives it all you’ve got, or ''leaves it all on the field,'' as the saying goes? I know there are times when I’m like that. I meet with my trainer, get a new workout plan and go set the plan into action. I typically know how many times a week I’m going to lift weights, when my races are scheduled for the next month, when I need to take a day off, etc. I love to research new exercises, try new classes, and make fitness a routine and consistent part of my life. I’m very aware of whether or not I’m meeting my fitness minutes goal for the month on SparkPeople. That’s all good, right?

I know many times we think that, but I saw something on the internet recently that put things into a better perspective for me. Unfortunately, I can't remember where I read it now, but the author said that we work out 60 minutes a day (1 hour) and then have to make food decisions for 15 hours, leaving 8 hours for sleeping. If you’re not making good food choices for many of those hours, how can you expect that 1 hour to compensate and move you in the right direction?

Think about it in minutes…60 versus 900. I know I’ve been caught saying, ''I’m going to eat this because later, I’m doing that'. My best friend stopped me in my tracks recently by telling me she didn’t want to hear my excuse or justification for the decadent brownie I was getting ready to eat – just eat it and move on. I looked at her like she was my frenemy (friend/enemy). Okay, just joking, but she was right.  It would probably take more than 60 minutes to burn that hunk of love – I mean chocolate – off my body. I’m not saying you can’t have treats because trust me, I did eat that brownie and enjoyed every single bite.  Should I do that often? No!  The next morning I got up and ran my race and got right back on track.

The moral of this story is you should spend even more time prepping for those 900 minutes a day than you do for those 60 minutes a day in order to reach your goals.  How do you do that?  I do it by planning out my meals. I research and read a lot since I’m a foodie and love to do that. I keep a list of healthy recipes that we’ve tried and liked. I started a board on Pinterest to group together recipes that I’m trying. I tend to keep a stock of supplies in the pantry and freezer that can be used in a large number of healthy recipes. I frequent the store at least twice a week for fresh produce.  I keep my Tupperware organized and have an extra set on hand.  All of these things make prepping and taking food easier for my family. 

When it comes to my meals, I tend to go with the flow.  I’ve tracked my food pretty consistently for almost three years now, and I can calculate in my head how many calories I’m eating if I stay out of restaurants.  Periodically, I need to check myself and carefully plan out my meals just to remind myself that food seriously matters.  My body will always reflect the quantity and quality of what I put into my mouth, no matter how much I work out.
Should you use this blog as justification to only work on the 900 minutes of meal planning and ignore those miniscule 60 minutes of fitness? No way!  Your body needs both and I’m a firm believer in the ''move it or lose it'' phrase. I currently have over 41,000 fitness minutes logged on my SparkPeople account since the beginning of my journey. Obviously, I believe that you need to work out. I think the best combination for a successful healthy journey is to find a good balance between the two, and I realize that doing one without the other will cheat me out of the results that I deserve.

The longer I find myself on this journey, the more I feel like our bodies are like finely-tuned race cars.  If you don’t take care of that car, it will stop running.  If you don’t tune the engine, oil the parts, change the tires, and put in good quality fuel, you won't have a good race.  Our bodies need good, quality food and plenty of water.  We need to move, stretch, and exercise to strengthen our bones, build muscle, and make all the parts work together well.  When we don’t do all of those things, we struggle in our race.

Do you feel like you have a healthy balance between planning for workouts and for meals?  Do you favor one over the other?  Which one do you need to work on this week?

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I prefer exercising than to meal planning and I sorely lack in meal planning and I don't like it at all. However, I will give it another try and try my best to be diligent about it.


- Nancy Jean -
GA Report
KHALIA2 2/5/2020
Great Job for getting back on track after eating that brownie!!!! Report
SHAYNE139 1/14/2020
The problem with eating back your burned calories is you are not learning to eat moderately. What happens when something happens, and, it will, when you can't exercise. You will continue to eat as you have been but without the exercise you will gain weight. Report
I have been doing both and definitely feel the difference when I focus on the food to help fuel my workouts Report
Currently, I make food decisions about once in a week. I set the menu and there are no more decisions to be made. I think the soul that came up with that equation might think of food too often. Report
I started out just counting calories and doing minimum exercise required for the spark program. But I wasn't happy with the slow progress I was making so I bought some weights, a fitness tracker and started a challenge. In just 2 days I lost 4 more lbs! That's awesome! Report
thanks Report
This is a GREAT blog!! So so so soooo true!! Report
My health has always been a concern of mine, but im just beginning to do the things necesssary to stay healthy consistency is key and the things you mentioned definietly require a lifestyle change. This is day one of my journey keep posting things like this motivation is so important when doing things that are unfamiliar to you. Report
I am convinced I do exercise every day but if something comes up it takes second place to other things. I take the food, WEIGH more seriously than the exercise. You have convinced me. I am 68 years young and I really MUST prioritise exercise and fun.
I will admit I have lots of fun with healthy meal planning and preparing food but it does keep me standing still a lot. Thanks for the heads up. Pat in Maine. Report
I feel that I do have a healthy balance between planning meals and scheduling workouts. Since I am training for a half marathon, there are many days I spend more than 60 minutes a day doing cardio. I have found that I actually have to meal plan even more carefully to make sure I am eating enough quality calories to have enough energy to keep going! This is a great article to remind all of us the importance of planning ahead. I know if I don't plan, I can make some poor food choices that only add calories, not nutrition. Like the writer, I do not deny myself an occassional treat! Report
I don't even do 1 hour, feel a bit guilty that I don't spend too much time planning my meals and my sleep barely get 6hrs! This blog made me re-think my priority, my plan :D Report
i didn't get the Math at all. Report
Not a fan of math, but this is one equation I get! Counting the cost!
We really do need to do the adding to get the subtracting.
I have done weight loss in so many ways and succeeded for a time, only to gain it back.
The key to the equation is you get out what you put in. Tracking your food and exercise has never been easier with Sparks. I recently turned down a opportunity at work to make more money. I counted the cost and decided it would interfere too much with my work out routine. My health has now become a priority to and I would rather have less money in the bank and count on a healthy and happy body instead. Report
That is such a great way to look at it. I do good at keeping all the right staples to make healthy meals, it's the snacks in between that I have problems with. I'm good if they are not around but somehow 1 or 2 less than prime choice snacks end up in my cart and then I lose control and eat all of them. I'm pretty consistent with workouts since I bought a treadmill. Report
I definitely think I have a good balance. How much I eat is decided by how much working out I have planned. I don't eat over with plans to burn it off because I don't see the body working that way. If I eat over, I'm more likely to adjust other days lower. If I'm having trouble with feeling hungry or not meeting my requirements, I might up my fitness to give myself a larger cushion of calories to work with. Report
Excellent blog! You sure came in right on target with my own struggles. I am currently trying to revamp my menus so I can refer to my favorites often and stay on target with my plan. Report
Hannah-Riley - I didn't feel bullied at all. She made a comment that is all and I was free to take from it what I wanted. Just wanted to clarify that in case it was written in a way that others could interpret as bullying. Report
I think my diet is almost bomb proof even with the indulgences that I allow. Working out is really hard as I'm recovering or uncovering a difficult illness. I'm not giving up on anything! Report
Why is it that when your friend is bullying you, you agree with her? Report
Great refection. I love to workout but I'm not good in controlling the food intake as most of us, so I we have to work on this. Report
I can usually do okay with managing my food intake. It is always the exercise part where I fall short. I am checking on a new Sumba class starting here on campus soon. Report
15+1+8 = 24 Report
I agree we need to plan work out and not beat our selves up when we enjoy a treat your blog came at a the right just before all those Easter goodies come into the house plan the food eat it ENJOY IT and move on. thanks for the reminder and hints you gave Report
I totally agree.
I workout, exercise as much as I can with my life schedule. I don't workout to cover some food that I just ate or am planning to eat. I workout to keep my body fit and make it stronger.
Exercise is just as important part of my life as any other responsibility I have. So is eating healthy and with in reason. I will indulge in a "forbidden" food at some time but it's tracked and I don't have to go the extra mile to work it off. No excuses.
I have gotten to this way of thinking and doing over time. It just didn't happen over night. Two years and 200 lbs later I feel I have things under control, but it's still a day to day experience. Report
I know I need to balance both - both can be a struggle, I'll do good with one and not the other. I need to keep working toward, getting on track with both at the same time.....Great post. Report
I exercise as often as my back allows me and as vigorous as my knees allow.
When all those are in order, i can easily burn an extra 5,000 calories per week.
When they aren't, then I'm lucky if i burn an extra 1,000 calories per week.
Eating the right foods isn't a problem, (I quit buying the wrong foods), but switching gears from a ~2,500 calorie day (with a daily exercise routine in place) to a nmt2100 "calorie cap", when my back is not cooperative, is a constant struggle. Report
The exercise part has always been easy for me. The food part has always, and continues to be, hard. Report
I'm definitely stronger in the workout arena. I love exercising and on my recovery days (at least one a week), it's often hard for me to take it easy. But food is definitely my weaker point. Your blog really hit home. I need to do more planning and questioning myself about those "brownies". Speaking of brownies, I tried a recipe which includes black bean (I think it was from LiveWell) and they were wonderful! Report
I find I make better choices through the day if I exercise/work out hard in the a.m. I'm more mindful because I don't want to undo all my hard work and sweat!!! Great Article! Report
1 cookie = 30 EXTRA minutes on the bike. I don't like the bike, so... Report
Thanks for this blog and the reflection it triggered. Report
I have researched this, and read reputable nutrition sources-including spark. Yes, I have the number crunches, the plans etc. However, my body does not seem to cooperate. I keep changing up to find something which will work. Report
Great post! I agree; the make/break difference is definitely PLANNING the meals, not just logging them afterwards. This is the only thing that works for me. It takes time but is worth it! Report
I have the 60 minutes down pat...that other 900 minutes is truly the journey.
I do well and then I dont and I get up and try again! Thanks for a new way to look at my fuel! Report
I have to agree with this post. I keep coming back to the adage "you can't exercise your way out of bad diet". I love to exercise and track my exercise religiously. The eating is where I fall short. I have been exercising regularly (3-4x/week at the gym) including cardio and strength training and still have not managed to lose any significant weight. Talk about frustrating. This post truly speaks to this issue and the need to think about those other 15 hours and the choices we make. Thanks for a very thought provoking blog. Report
I finally gained the consistency I needed with fitness, but meal planning is still my Achilles heel. Definitely what I'm working on and what's going to get me to goal. Report
Great post - thank you from a fellow foodie! Report
Great article. I definately need to work on my meal planning. Report
Very good read! I enjoyed the perspective! I just restarted my journey and have to think of food and exercise differently! Thank you! Report
What a great blog - really put a different perspective for me on healthy eating and exercise. Thanks for your ideas :) Report
Good blog! I don't plan well for food or exercise; it's just hard for me to think ahead. I do keep healthy staples and fresh freggies around, but what to do with them is generally a 'how-do-I-feel-what-do-I-want?' sort of thing. At my 'advanced' age (I'll soon be 58) I am learning how to build a healthy routine...that's going to be 'it' for a while! Report
Great blog!!! I've definitely said the same thing... do this now and work it off later. I really enjoyed this. Thanks! Report
I do agree that we do have to plan out our meals. Me I have gotten better at that. Getting my workout in is the easy part for me........love working out. Report
I have never thought of spacing out a day as you have in your blog. Very eye-opening. We do need to have the exercise along with the healthy eating habits, but I tend to only think of "the day" and not plan for the week. Need to get a lot better at doing the full week and better planning. Thanks for the very informative article! Report
Great Blog Mich!

I am guilty of this from time to time as well. I don't beat myself up over it though. I just get my sweat on at the next workout and move past it. My LIFESTYLE consists of these 'mistakes' once n a while. Report
I am slightly guilty of this. I LOVE to exercise & look forward to it. However, when it comes to food, I'm the anti-foodie. I hate to cook and have never cooked anything edible, and there is nothing I hate more than having to record all of my food. It actually makes me obsess about food & that's not something that has my interest. Sparkpeople has so much about food & I'm trying to learn to care, but it's my biggest struggle. Maybe I'm one of the backwards people, but I just remind myself that what I eat is important & just try to think before I order. (without having to stop my busy life to record what I just ate...and have to try to guess the portions, weigh the food, or try to remember each ingredient to record accurately). If anyone has any tips, please message me! Report
This is very true; I've managed to gain weight even when working out regularly (and no, it was NOT muscle weight). Report
WORKINGSTIFF: "Maybe I'm not getting it...15 hours every day to make food choices?"

I'm pretty sure the point wasn't to be obsessing over what you're eating for 15 hours per day, but that if you're only paying attention to what you do 1 hour in a day and not the other 15, that one isn't going to ever be enough to balance it.

There are 15 hours in a day during which you have chances to make choices in your food: like *not* having a second cup of coffee with two creams and a sugar, or passing up the donut at the office meeting for an apple instead. It doesn't mean you're thinking of nothing but food all day, it means that when you are faced with a choice during the day, if you go at it with the idea that 'I'll work it off later', chances are you won't, and you'll just be sabotaging your hard work. Report