Where to start? Exercise or weight loss? I have heard it many times over the years: “Let me lose 10lbs then I will come in to train.” Rarely does that come to fruition. Anecdotally, I recommend to people that they should begin an exercise routine first. To me, it is about creating positively reinforced cyclic habits. Choose an activity you love to do, carve out time to do it, enjoy your body in action, feel better about yourself, repeat. From there, positive relationships, good food choices, along with the energy benefits of exercise all work together to keep you moving in the right direction.
Focusing on weight loss first is an act of restriction. Typically, it means subtracitng something familiar from our routine. While in the long run, eating more fruits, veggies and other whole foods will not feel like punishment, in the beginning it can be challenging to adhere to.
Set yourself up for success in the beginning. When these changes and choices MUST be conscious and intentional, do so in a fashion that will have the best chance for winning.
Now, we can add the fact that adding exercise (with a weight neutral approach) seems to also be significantly better for you than solely focusing on weight loss. In a paper published last month in iScience concluded that the mortality and cardiometabolic risks associated with obesity are improved or eliminated by increasing physical activity independent of weight loss. Furthermore, weight loss alone, when successful, does not seem to be consistently related to lowering mortality risk; and when not successful, is associated with adverse health outcomes.
Simply put, when it comes to the question Where to start? The jury is in.