Want to lose weight? Trying to burn fat? Then you need to diet and you need to exercise, right? But…is there are part of this formula that you DON’T know about? What if you’re eating right and exercising, but still not losing the weight?

First, don’t give up! Second, you may just need a reality check about what to expect from exercise. Here are some basic truths about exercise and your weight.

1. Exercise is only part of the weight loss story.

On the couch or in the gym, there’s no getting around your tab of calories in and calories out.

Robert Kushner, MD, is a professor of medicine at Northwestern University and clinical director of the Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity. He says the obese patients he treats often tell him they’re not seeing the results they want from exercise.

“They typically will say, ‘I have been working out three days a week for 30 minutes for the past three months and I have lost 2 pounds; there’s something wrong with my metabolism,’” Kushner says.

Kushner says he tells patients that exercise is very good for them, but for weight loss, he emphasizes a healthy diet in the beginning.

“First, we’ve got to get a handle on your diet,” Kushner says. “Then, as you’re losing weight and feel better and you’re lighter on your feet, then we shift more and more toward being more physically active; and then living a physically active lifestyle for the rest of your life is going to be important to keeping your weight off.”

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