August 1, 2013

Is Too Much Exercise Keeping You From Losing Weight? ~ Lara Davies

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

~Albert Einstein

Can exercise sabotage your weight loss?

It’s a shocking thought, I know. And I am in no way suggesting that exercise is bad for you, in fact there are thousands of reasons to get your daily move on but is there also such a thing as too much exercise?

I am sure many of you have been frustrated and confused when you can’t budge the scales despite following an intense exercise and diet program. Thinking to yourself: “How can this be possible?!”

The answer is too much exercise! Yes, exercise is an essential part of maintaining long-term health and weight control. However, there is in fact such a thing as doing too much exercise or exercising too intensely.

Over exercising causes stress on your body

Our bodies are complex, holistic organisms, whose physical, mental and spiritual well-being has to be taken into account. It’s not as simple as burning fat or calories in and calories out.

A hard work out that is causing stress on your body may be the very reason why you can’t shift the weight.  When you stress, your body produces cortisol, a stress hormone. Ironically cortisol is good for your body in small doses. It is your body’s natural alarm. However, in excess, cortisol has a huge negative impact on your body such as increased fat storage, the inability to lose fat, increased aging, tiredness, anxiety, headaches, lowered immunity, heart disease, arthritis, difficulties concentrating, loss of short term memory and depression.

High intensity work outs are a stressor to your body and will deplete your body of nutrients and flood it with cortisol. Also workouts which you hate and cause you stress are depleting your body as well.

Cortisol holds on to body fat

If exercise is experienced as stressful or you over train, then as a result there will be too much cortisol release, and the body goes into “save” mode and will:

  • Retain weight, especially around the midsection.
  • Slow your metabolism
  • Develop cravings; you generally crave more fatty, salty and sugary foods.
  • Affect your blood sugar causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycaemia.

Is your exercise routine a chore? Do you stress out about having to do it every day? Or do you go so hard-core that you are tired for the rest of the day? These are the clues that you are not doing your body any good. It’s one thing to have a strong fit body, but having a fit body that is tired and stressed is not healthy.

So what is best?

By reducing the intensity of your workouts and controlling stress better, you’ll find that you’ll look and feel great.

You don’t need to be exercising yourself into the ground, as mentioned earlier, this can often cause more stress on your body and put you in a state where you can’t burn fat due to the cortisol that you are producing. Exercise should be enjoyable and not seem like a chore. You need to choose exercise that you enjoy so that the movement nourishes your body as opposed to depleting it.

You don’t need to be doing intense workouts six days a week to lose weight or maintain a healthy body. Simply listen to your body and do an exercise that you enjoy—for some it may be walking, gardening, jogging or yoga, just so long as it is some form of moving.

So instead of selling your soul to the gym and pushing yourself to follow a strict intensive workout regimen, why not do something more natural? Eat healthy foods, go on a regular detox, take walks in nature, go for a peaceful morning bike ride and in those moments where you get a burst of energy go for a run.

It’s really so simple: do what you love. We are born with an innate knowledge of ourselves and the world around us. Don’t lose this knowledge through fear, expectations and the requirements of modern society. Listen to your instincts and tune into your own body.

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Asst. Editor: Kristina Peterson/Editor: Bryonie Wise

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Lara Davies