Many people exercise so they can burn calories and lose fat. Unfortunately, this mindset is setting you up for failure. 

How often have you heard others say, “I ate a ton of food yesterday and need to burn it off with today’s workout”? 

I will be honest I used to say this all the time or something similar. 

Hard truth. 

Exercise doesn’t burn a lot of calories. 

This mindset of burning calories during exercise does more harm than good. It is creating this negative or unhealthy relationship with exercise. You are making this mindset that a workout is a form of punishment based on something you ate. 

All the pieces of technology that tell you calories burned during exercise are wrong. They highly overcalculate how many calories you are burning. 

Many studies have looked at these devices and found they are inaccurate. In an hour’s workout, you are not burning 600+ calories, which will be around 200-300. The calories you burn with exercise are small compared to what you burn in a whole day. 

If you haven’t yet, read my other blog, What is Metabolism? In this blog, I go over the components that make up your metabolism, and exercise makes up about 5-10% of your total energy expenditure (TEE). 

That’s a pretty small amount of calories burning for the day. 

You might be asking, why should you exercise? 

Great question. 

Exercise is excellent for your health and performance. 


Instead of burning calories while exercising, you should focus on health and performance. 

Exercise has many benefits for your health.  Whether you want to lower blood pressure, better control diabetes, better cardiovascular health, and much more, you can improve with exercise. 

Create the mindset to love your body and exercise to make it feel better. When you go to the gym with this mindset, you will leave with more energy and feel better. 

With the mindset of burning calories, you are pushing your body to breaking point because you have this need to go go go to burn as many calories as you can. You’re going to leave that gym feeling destroyed. 

You tell me, which mindset will have the best long-term results?

Which one is more sustainable and can be more consistent? 

When you start exercising to better your health, you will begin to have a better relationship with exercise. 

Use exercise to improve your performance; you do not have to be an athlete to improve your performance. Your individual goals will determine how your training plan gets you to perform better.  

Performance can be strength-based, more muscle, better mobility, run faster, run longer, jump higher, and play with your kids. 

As you can see, performance is whatever you want to get better at. You can’t improve your performance if your mindset is to use exercise to punish your body for that donut. 

Performance training is intentional. You have to focus on the goal of getting better, not fatigue. Performance is skill-based, and with any skill, you have to practice. It would be hard to practice the skill when you go all out. You need to practice with good form and be consistent. 

Exercise is a skill, and you have to have a positive mindset to be better; you can’t do this when thinking of burning calories. 


The goal is to stop thinking about calories burned during exercise. If your goal is fat loss, you have to focus on nutrition. 

You can’t exercise your way through bad nutritional habits. 

A healthy relationship with exercise looks like this, no stress around it. You feel better leaving with more energy. You consistently see progress towards your goal, whether getting your first pull-up or improving health markers. 

Yes, exercise helps burn calories and can be used as a supplement to lose fat, but it should not be the primary way. 

Anytime you think about using exercise because of something you ate, stop. Write it down and reword it to use training in a positive tone. 

Instead of the punishment mindset, use exercise to help you move, feel, and perform better. 

Focus on getting better with exercises or moving more weight to strengthen during your workouts. 

Do not fail with your strength exercises; you should leave two reps in reserve. 

With cardio, you do not need to go all out, and cardio is for health purposes; you only need to do zone 2 cardio. 

If you are unfamiliar with zone 2 cardio, check out my blog, Cardio for heart health, not fat loss.

You do not have to be in the gym every day; most of the time, more is not better. Highly recommended to move every day for your health, and you can do that with walking, mobility, light cardio, hiking, and leisure biking. 

On the days you are not in the gym, use movement to help you recover. Use your training to help you feel better and refreshed 

Not sure how to program your strength training days? Email me your questions at

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