Last Tuesday, it was hot in the room where my gym offers step aerobics. Having two windows of walls doesn’t help, especially as it gets towards spring and the sun shines in more and longer. I’m not quite sure why they can’t get the temperature solved in that room (hint: installing shades over the windows would go a long way towards making a huge difference), but it can get uncomfortably warm when there are a lot of bodies moving for a long time and Mister Sun comes out to play.
The step instructor wasn’t thrilled, but she’s apparently changed her attitude at least slightly as we no longer get her constant complaints on all manner of topics throughout the class. The two box fans that get turned on partway through class do nothing to cool down the room that is larger than the house I’m living in right now, however. She remained upbeat and kept saying that we were going to lose an extra pound today because it was so hot.
And every time she said that, it was like nails on the chalkboard to me.
Yes, the room was hot. Yes, we were probably sweating more, but we didn’t burn off an extra pound the way she was saying we did. Many people (sadly, not me – remember last week’s fitness myth about how you aren’t working hard enough if you don’t sweat?) were sweating more profusely than normal. And were they to weigh themselves before and after class, they may indeed have weighed less after working out, but that doesn’t mean they truly lost a pound the way our instructor was intimating.
They may have sweated out a pound of water, but their bodies will replenish their stores of water, and they’ll return to where they would have been without sweating out that water. Like sponges, you can squeeze water out of us, but as soon as you reintroduce water, we fill back up to our saturation point. (Like that analogy?)
Losing a pound of weight means that you have burned 3,500 calories more than you have taken in. Losing weight is, in the end, calories in and calories out. You have to figure out that equilibrium to truly lose weight, and there is no possible way to lose a pound in an hour through exercise.
Yes, you can change the mechanics to some degree to help lose weight faster, but it’s a game of math in the end. Exercising helps to increase your metabolism, thus boosting your calories out. More muscles burn more calories even at rest, so that’s another helper. Some foods you can eat can cause your metabolism to either go up or go down. Eating too few calories slows your metabolism, which hurts you in the end. The less you weigh, the fewer calories you burn doing the same things as someone who weighs more. Some people are simply lucky and have a higher metabolism genetically.
But in the end, sweating is not a weight loss miracle, contrary to what my step instructor would have you believe. Just because you worked out in a hot room and “sweated out a pound” as she proudly announced at the end of class, don’t take that for a victory and go buy a smaller size.
It’s just another fitness myth.