The Skinnygirl Solution To Exercising

I used to exercise like a maniac. I obsessed about it. I’d spin for hours, hike up stairs, rollerblade, I did everything. I was consumed by it. On the days I didn’t do it, I would be consumed by guilt as well. I didn’t have a healthy relationship with exercise.

Today, I’m twenty years older, I work out fifty times less than I did then, and here’s the kicker: I weigh twenty pounds less than I weighed in those days.

Exercise is a tool and if you want to make it work for you, you have to understand what it actually does for you and what your goal is. If you are using that tool wisely, exercise keeps you fit. It clears your mind, it’s good for your heart, makes you feel stronger and confident, and it can lift your butt and your mood. It’s a great thing to do and I wish I had time to do it more often.

But here’s the truth: exercise alone will not make you lose weight. It is my opinion that what you eat is more important. You can’t start exercising like a maniac, the way I used to do, and eat like a wolverine, and expect to get thinner. I used to get up every morning for 6 AM spin class. By 10 AM, I was so starved; I was eating things I would never normally have eaten. I told myself, “Well, I just took a spin class, so I can eat this,” or “I’ll eat all this now and tomorrow I’ll take a step class.” I wasn’t in control.

Exercise done in a manic state becomes a vicious cycle. You exercise too much, so you overeat, then run to the gym to make up for it, then you’re starving again, and the cycle continues. Extreme exercise could make you lose weight, but you’ll pay a price. If you are engaging in constant intense physical activity, it can be hard to keep weight on.

This is why exercise is not and cannot be an unilateral weight-loss strategy, not matter what you’ve seen on TV. When you watch what you eat and combine it with moderate exercise, that’s the winning combination.

I exercise now to stay fit, look toned, and feel good, but I do not exercise to stay thin. It’s liberating to realize this. Now I eat like a naturally thin person and exercise simply because I know it’s going to make me feel stronger, better, lighter, and brighter. I have a healthy relationship with food and equally important, I have a healthy relationship with exercise.

This content was originally featured in Skinnygirl Solutions: Simple Ideas, Extraordinary Results by Bethenny Frankel, available on