Ahhh Friday. I’ve been busy this week as you may have seen from my absence as I started back at uni after my Easter break. This week has just been filled with more projects to add to the ones I already have. Just great. But, just one month left and then I am on my summer break woohoo!
Today I just wanted to drop in and talk to you guys about something. I was looking through my stats and how people find my blog through searches etc, and one of the most common searches that gets people to my blog is ‘too much exercise is making me fat’ because of this post I did over a year ago! I actually find this really sad that so many people are struggling with this, so I wanted to go over it a little more now that I’m in a more healthy position than a year ago and have also learnt a lot!
In that post I was very much down about my body image and you know what? I still am. But I can also tell you that I’ve been through a journey in over that year in terms of exercise and finally actually believed that ‘too much exercise is bad for you’. I now do the least exercise and eat more than I ever have done, and yet I’d say I’m probably at my fittest and healthiest. That’s kinda saying something eh? I realised that it really was true that doing hours on end of cardio, even over an hour, was just stressing my body out and I wasn’t giving it time to recover because I’d be doing the same thing everydaaaay. How dull.
Now I am in and out of the gym in max 45 minutes, on HIIT days I do 20 minutes. That is it. I also have 2 or 3 rest days a week. Why does this work? Well I work hard in that time, and in the end, no matter how much you exercise, you cannot exercise out a bad diet. So I do eat healthy most of the time. And doing too much cardio was not only increasing my cortisol levels, giving me no chance of slimming down and toning up, but it also made it easier for me to binge either because my body just wasn’t recovering so was dying for too much fuel or I was in the mindset that I’d done ‘x’ amount so it was okay to eat more. Wrong. Then the binges were adding stress on top of the cortisol produced from the stress of too much exercise so it was just a never ending stress on my body. Now I don’t get that over hungry binging everyday because my body isn’t stressed out to the max, not to mention I eat more throughout the day to build the muscle anyway.
Not only does too much cardio cause stress on your body keeping the weight on, but also look at your life, at work, at home, your personal life. If these are stressful too, you are just set up to have a hard time losing weight or losing fat before you even think about exercise. Then I tend to find that people who have this stressful life are the people that tend to do a lot of cardio…adding to the problem! Exercise is a great stress reliever, no doubt about it, but making it the only way to deal with stress is just adding to the stress of life in terms of cortisol. Therefore you need to find more effective ways to de-stress sometimes rather than it always being exercise. Whether it’s just things like having a lie in (something that I do well ), having a bath, reading a book, having a massage, even meditation or stretching. And trust me, having a good intense shorter session can give you that relief just as much as a long session when you are dripping with sweat.
So what to do if you’re struggling with losing weight/fat and feel like exercise is making it worse. Well simple:
1. Make your workouts shorter, less than 30 minutes for cardio and look at using weights for the longer workouts.
2. Make your weight training workouts more intense. Increase the weights you are using or do more reps for a more cardio effect.
2. Incorporate more HIIT type cardio sessions for 15-20 minutes a day. Fast effective way to burn fat but only do these a couple of times a week to keep your cortisol levels in check.
3. Have more rest days and find other ways to release the stress. If you are continually exercising everyday you will not be seeing the effects of your hard work, trust me.
4. If you feel tired or sluggish, take a rest day even if it’s unplanned. Rest time is sometimes more important than exercise as this is the time when your body is recovering and burning the fat.
5. Keep a good diet. If your cortisol levels are out of control even a few days of indulgences can significantly make the problem worse.
6. Eat enough. Nothing worse than your hard work in the gym is put to waste because your body is in starvation mode. You need food to burn fat, build muscle..whatever your goal, without enough neither will happen. You can’t start a fire without that energy to keep it alight.
What do you do to relieve stress?
Fave healthy meal?