Weight: A Losing Battle

POSTED: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 - 8:17am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:59pm

27-year-old Rebecca Goldring starts her day with a 30-minute walk. Then, there's an exercise class during lunch and maybe even a spin class in the evening. "When I first started, I lost weight, then I sort of plateaued," Goldring said. So when her doctor recently told her to lose an another 16 pounds, she was devastated.

"It is really, really frustrating. I mean, when she told me that, I almost started crying. If I try to lose 16 pounds, I will have no energy, because you have to eat less to keep it up," she said. But doctors and experts insist that exercise is one of the keys to losing weight ... and with the number of gym memberships on the rise, Americans should be skinnier.

Problem is ... some say it's actually all that **exercise** that's keeping people from shedding the extra pounds. "I've stopped counseling my clients, my patients, the people I work with, to exercise for weight loss," Wayne Miller said. Wayne Miller teaches exercise science at George Washington University. He says most people overestimate the number of calories they burn during a work out ... and then they tend to overeat afterwards.

"By restricting your diet, you can easily cut out 1,500 calories, but to get that amount of exercise in to burn those calories, it takes much more," Miller said. Exercise also boosts your metabolism. So after a vigorous workout ... some might be starving and then lose track of how many calories they're putting away when they eat. "Where it really hits me is in the morning, I end up ravenous," Goldring said.

But others say it's simply a matter of perception. A lot of people believe that exercising gives them the freedom to eat what they want. So spending an hour at the gym, justifies eating pizza for lunch or a greasy burger for dinner.

Georgetown University Hospital gastroenterologist Dr. Robynne Chutkan says she sees it all the time. "People who think of it as sort of carte blanche. I exercised, therefore, I can eat whatever I want. I don't have to think about the calories," Dr. Chutkan said.

"There are definitely times when I say, I did this, this and this today and so I can have that piece of cake and not feel bad about it and that might happen more often than I'd like," Goldring said. But while exercise alone might not be the answer to losing weight, everyone agrees there are still plenty of health benefits. Goldring says she's not ready to put the barbell down anytime soon.

"Keep working out because ultimately, you're better off being heavy and fit, than skinny and starving," Goldring said.