Too fat to exercise (or so he says)

Too fat to exercise (or so he says)

“I know I should exercise to lose weight, but I’m so fat. I feel too embarrassed to be seem exercising in public” reported Tom (not his real name), a 35-year-old sports fan who wanted to lose about 50 pounds. He was an avid sports watcher, but he himself had never enjoyed playing sports because of his size. “You know, my knees ache when I walk more than 10 minutes. I’ll never be able to lose weight…”

Like Tom, many overweight people believe they have to exercise to lose weight. The truth is, to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. That can be done by simply cutting calories. For example, one man reported he lost 30 pounds in one year just by knocking off two cans of soda a day (one can at lunch, the other can at dinner). He claims those are the only diet/lifestyle changes he made.

While exercise can help create a calorie deficit, exercise is more important for improving your health, strengthening your muscles, and boosting your self-esteem. You might need to redefine the purpose of exercise. Is should be to help you be healthy and fit, so you can have more fun in life. You can achieve that goal, regardless of your weight.

I encourage you to find a meaningful activity you can enjoy and would be willing to maintain for the rest of your (healthy) life. Maybe you want to pick up the litter in your neighborhood while you walk? Maybe you want to adopt a dog that you have to walk at least twice a day? You might need a strengthening program to build your leg muscles so they can better support your knees. Or perhaps you can start with exercycling?

You might want to work with a trainer in person or find an online community, such as or People of all sizes and shapes have found support to be helpful with reaching their goals!


For more information on how to lose weight and have energy to exercise: Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

Written by Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD is an internationally respected sports nutritionist, weight coach, nutrition author, and workshop leader. She is a registered dietitian (RD) who is a board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She is also a certified WellCoach. Nancy specializes in nutrition for performance, life-long health, and the nutritional management of eating disorders. She counsels both casual exercisers and competitive athletes in her private practice in the Boston area (Newton, MA). Some of her clients consider her to be their food coach, others their food therapist. Regardless, she enjoys the challenge of helping sports-active people transform their suboptimal eating habits into effective fueling plans. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, a best-selling resource, has sold over 550,000 copies and is now in it's new fifth edition.

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