The answer will probably surprise you.
It always fascinates me when people try to starve themselves or work themselves to death to lose weight. That MAY help temporarily but it is not sustainable and doesn’t lead to long-term weight-loss success or wellness.
In fact, to go all medical science on you…over exercising is actually counterintuitive to weight loss. When you over-exercise, your body produces stress hormones, CRH and Cortisol are two we are majorly concerned with in this instance. CRH contributes to the permeability (translation: leakiness) of your intestinal walls. So much, if not all of your health starts in your gut, a leaking gut is a major concern.
Then you have Cortisol. Cortisol is a beat down of a hormone causing all kinds of issues in the gut including slowing down the time it takes to move food around and can add more fluff to your mid-section.
So what do you do? How much is too much? Clearly sitting on your rear isn’t a good solution. I advise my clients to get 30 minutes of intentional movement in per day. Notice I said “movement” not “running” or “cross fit” or “weight training.” This may look like taking a walk, or cycling, or even running depending on your fitness level, but not every day. I like my clients to look at movement like playing…what did you like to play when you were a kid? This is a great way to get your movement in.
If you want to do something more intense, that is okay! Just keep it to 30 minutes, about 3 times per week. The rest of the time, playful movement is encouraged.
So why does this help me lose weight?
A couple reasons, one of them being the layers theory. By gradually becoming more active instead of diving head first into a crazy over-workout routine, you layer on positive habits and changes that are easy to stick to. Another reason is that you are moving in what we call the “optimal range,” kind of like Goldi-Locks, you are in the zone of “just right” and it helps your hormone levels stay there too.
Let summarize the basics to getting your movement in and getting the level just right:
- Add movement into your natural routine. I frequently ride my bike on errands that are closer than a 5-10 mile radius. I walk to the mailbox (which is a mile away) even if I drive past it a couple times a day. These are things you can do to, even if you just stand up to walk around the office.
- Utilize HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout no more than 3 days a week. It produces hormones that counteract the CRH and Cortisol. Its really simple, do something at moderate to maximum effort for 30 seconds, then leisurely for 90 seconds and repeat 8 times. You can also add a 3 minute warm-up and cold-down period if you like. Don’t go past 8 times, then you cross-over in the strenuous zone.
- Think play not work. What did you love as a kid? Cycling? Gymnastics? Volleyball? Find movement that mirrors that. I love yoga, paddle boarding, biking, hiking, swimming — all of those things work for movement and are entertaining to me.
- Eat something. On the days you do the HIIT workout, break your fast or grab something to eat afterwards. Reach for something protein packed, like eggs or meat. Avoid “recovery drinks” as they are packed with additives and junk your body doesn’t need. Real food is best.
- Get plenty of sleep. You know you should be getting plenty of sleep! Did you know it can actually stop you from losing weight? Not enough sleep increases cortisol and CRH levels. Aim for an average of 7 hours of quality sleep. Quality sleep happens in a pitch black, cool, quiet room.
Let’s sort this out before you leave. Post what you enjoyed doing when you were a kid and I will help you come up with your “adulting” version of that.