Why Too Much Exercise Can Make You Fat
We hear many things when it comes to diet and exercise, making health and wellness seem much more complex than it needs to be. We also tend to create unhealthy relationships with food and exercise, often using them as a punishment and reward system without realizing it. This can lead to a host of issues, but one I’ve been noticing lately, especially in young women is over-exercising.
A healthy and balanced lifestyle should include daily movement yes, but not necessarily daily exercise. In the high stress environment that we live in today, our stress hormone cortisol can already be out of balance, due to lack of sleep, anxiety, caffeine, medications, eating the wrong foods, etc and intense daily exercise on top of all that can really get us into a pickle.
Without enough recovery time, the body cannot clear its cortisol levels. This chronic elevation of stress hormones keeps the body in continuous “flight or flight” mode, in which the body wants to keep as much fat as possible stored because it essentially thinks “winter is coming” year round. If you do cardio every day but still have that stubborn excess weight in areas like the lower abdomen, outer thighs and kidney area ((love handles), this could be your issue. Now, if you are eating the wrong foods, we must look towards the kitchen for the results you want because diet accounts for 80% of weight loss, but if you are someone who eats a healthy and balanced diet 70% of the time and exercises every day, there a some simple small changes you can make to see major improvements.
Here’s what you can do:
- Take at least 2 full days off intense exercise each week (unless you are preparing for the olympics or the cross fit games)
- Check in with yourself and your energy levels, and if you are really tired, replace your workout with a long walk outside (nature decreases cortisol levels)
- Cut down on cardio (no more than 4 days per week)
- Add in strength training into your exercise regime
- Meditate for 5-10 minutes a day to lower cortisol levels
- Get to bed at the same time each night (set a “going to bed” alarm just like you would to wake up)
- Make sleep a bigger priority, we should be aiming for a minimum of 7.5 hours a night (adolescents need even more)
- Try breathing exercises like alternate nostril breathing for reducing stress if meditation is not your thing
- Make time for self care each week; set aside 1-3 hours a week just to do something you really love (some of my favorites include: reading a fiction book for fun, taking a hot bath with essential oils and tea or wine or going on a walk/hike in nature)
Shift your focus to a healthy mind, and a healthy body will soon follow!
If you guys are interested in some meditation or other stress-reducing techniques let me know!