Workout of the Day

Fitness Is Not A Food Eraser


You may have noticed we don’t have any fancy heart rate monitors, wrist watches, or screens on the wall telling you how many calories you’ve burned in today’s training. In fact, we don’t even mention “burning calories,” unless it’s to crack a joke about that soul-crushing 50 calorie row you just did being equivalent to 5 gummy bears, if for no reason other than to point out the ridiculousness in this way of thinking.

We make the conscious choice to avoid a focus on “burning calories” for a host of reasons.

First and foremost, it’s not what we aim to do. I often use the analogy of driving your car: you don’t get in your car and hit the gas pedal with the sole intent of burning fuel. That’s a silly and irresponsible thing to do. Likewise, I would argue that exercising for the sole purpose of burning fuel is missing the point entirely. Our efforts are directed towards fitness. We want to coach you to move better, to improve your function, performance, and health, not to rev your engine over and over in a futile attempt to erase poor dietary choices.

(You can read more about why this is a dead-end approach to training HERE.)

Second, it’s a wildly inefficient way to go about things. Did you know that an hour of non-stop running will burn somewhere in the ballpark of 500-600 calories? For reference, that’s a decent peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a large slice of pizza, or an average size serving of ice cream. That's not much bang for your buck. On the other hand, consider that if I were to lie in bed all day, my body would need roughly 2100 calories just to break even (resting metabolic rate). Your body is not designed to burn through fuel for the sake of burning through fuel. Take the hint.

Third, it’s downright inaccurate. Research conducted on projected calories burned vs actual calories burned on traditional cardio equipment has shown that the average cardio machine tends to overestimate calories burnt by up to 40%, and smartwatches such as the Fitbit have been found to overestimate calories burnt during exercise by as much as 50%. As smart as any smartwatch or elliptical may be, the human system is complex enough that whatever tools you employ on a daily basis aren’t going to accurately capture what’s going on underneath the surface. Not to mention, food labels are allowed 20% margin of error. Inaccuracies stacked on inaccuracies.

Here’s the thing: exercise is not, and should not be, used as an eraser for your poor food choices. Not only is this ineffective and silly for the reasons listed above -- it creates a negative relationship between you and your fuel (food) and health and movement. Food becomes guilt-laden, and exercise becomes punishment. Does that sound like a healthy or sustainable practice? Is that the relationship you’d like to have with your body?

If you want to indulge in a few beers, some chicken nuggets, and/or an ice cream sandwich, by all means, go for it! I’m a strong advocate for occasional indulgence. But if you’re getting caught up in the game of “I just earned myself a treat because I exercised today” or “I’d better punish myself in the gym later for eating that slice of pizza,” I would challenge you to reconsider.

Instead of an indulge-and-punish model, consider making better nutrition choices that contribute to fueling your body with quality foods in the right amounts, move and exercise to improve your function, health, and quality of life, and enjoy a treat now and then because that’s perfectly okay -- but not because you think you can erase that choice later.

- PS


  • Take 12 minutes to establish max time freestanding handstand hold


  • With a partner (alternate)...

  • AMRAP 4

    • Floor GHR

  • Rest 2 min

  • AMRAP 4

    • GHR back extension hold

  • Rest 2 min

  • AMRAP 4

    • L-support hold