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21 Day Reset Part 4- When to move: Pain no gain




I love to exercise. Yes, you can hate me but hear me out. I don’t exercise to lose or maintain weight. Ever. If you want to change your weight, changing when and what you eat is the answer, not exercise. Sure, exercise will burn calories, and burning calories will burn fat but not enough to make any substantial difference in your body set weight. At the end of the day, your body wants to hang onto its fat stores if your stressing it out for hours at the gym. It thinks “oh man, things must be tough right now so I better hold on to whatever I can.” Your body thinks you’re in danger when you exercise too hard or too long. It panics and tries to maintain homeostasis but protecting your fat stores. 

Another big problem with over exercising is injury. If your focus is using the gym to burn calories, you are going to be on that treadmill for hours every week. And all that wear and tear is going to add up to plantar fasciitis, hip pain, knee pain or a myriad of other over use injuries. You will then be scrambling to find an alternative way to burn off those calories or you will be forced to rest your injury as the pounds creep back on.

The third big problem is exercise can make some of us hungry!  Now the research is constantly going back and forth on this one. Some studies say intense exercise suppresses ghrelin (hunger hormone) while others have found that some individuals get an increase in the hunger hormone. Some will simply allow themselves more treats as a reward for their intense workout. (Guilty)

My advice for you is to experiment. Let your body guide you. Personally, I find longer bouts of low to moderate intensity workouts to have a positive effect on my hunger, meaning I find it decreases my appetite. Long intense workouts always leave me standing in front of the fridge with little memory of how I got there or why eating a loaf of bread is a bad idea. (You only live once right!?! Nom nom nom)

For my 21 day reset I continued my routine of walking 30 ish minutes in the morning on an empty stomach.  Now, wait a minute. Didn’t I just tell you exercise wasn’t going to help me lose or maintain? My exercise regime has NOTHING to do with my weight. I exercise to maintain my cardiovascular health, mobility and mental health. 

I have a family history of depression and anxiety disorders. Regular exercise has made a huge difference in my mental health. When I am working out regularly I am less stressed, less anxious and just plain happier. And it’s not just me.  I find the more frequently I am moving around all day, the more energy I have, the more I get done and the happier I feel. And the happier I am, the less likely I am to eat for emotional reasons. I like wearing a Fitbit to track my activity during the day. I tried to maintain a daily goal of 10,000 steps throughout my reset. 

I also set out to include brief, high intensity strength training for 7mins to 30mins a day. By high intensity I mean lifting heavy weights and performing the exercise until your muscle is fatigued. Strength training is important to me because as I age I don’t want to lose lean body mass or bone density. You know what they say...an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But I have to say...I don't particularly enjoy strength training at the moment. So I only do it when I am feeling pumped for it. I don’t want to build a bunch of negative associations with strength training so I would rather skip it one week if I’m just not feeling up to it. If it’s not in my alignment, I’m not going to do it.

There is a best time to strength train to get the most bang for your buck. In my last post I introduced you to a little fella called human growth hormone (HGH). This is the hormone that is responsible for building up our bodies when we are young, peaking in puberty and dropping off once you hit 30. A funny thing happens with the pituitary gland when it recognizes the absence of food for an extended period of time, it starts pumping out extra HGH in order to preserve lean body mass. A well timed workout can take advantage of this. The peak secretion of HGH seems to happen at around 24 hours in an unfed state. Hitting the gym after a 24 hour fast is your best shot at utilizing this phenomenon. Lift heavy until muscle fatigue and watch your waist line decrease. But don’t freak out if your weight goes up a pound. It’s more than likely muscle. It’s probably time you stop relying on the scale as a measure of health and fitness anyways. 

The scale tells you your body mass which tells you absolutely nothing about your health or body composition. There is actually a difference in the weight of the oxygen we breath in and the carbon dioxide we breathe out. We exhale less than we inhale. That’s right. Breathing makes you gain weight. Before you stop breathing lets take a moment to take about what really matters, your body composition. 

Where you store your body fat has a much greater influence on your health than your scale weight, body fat percentage or outward appearance. Someone who stores the majority of their fat underneath the abdominal cavity near the organs may appear to be at a healthy weight. They may not have the belly that most people take as a sign of bad health because the fat is further back. This type of fat is far more dangerous then the subcutaneous fat stored in a beer belly. Your scale isn't going to tell you that when you step on it. So ditch the scale and start looking at alternative ways of determining your health like a dexa scan which is a type of X-ray that can determine body composition more accurately and give you a real picture of your physical health. 

One more thing...

During my research I determined another type of exercise that I consider worth the effort. Sprints. 20-30 second intervals of sprints once a week has been shown to reduce both types of body fat and reduce insulin resistance. Remember, if losing a few pounds is your goal, insulin sensitivity is vital for weight loss. If your going to incorporate sprints into your routine, make sure you start off with 10 mins of dynamic stretching to get the body warmed up to prevent injury and cool down by either light jogging or walking until your breathing returns to normal. Unfortunately I have a chronic hamstring injury that I am currently working on healing so I decided to forgo the sprints this time around and have added in some extra stretches/yoga moves.

Always listen to your body, exercise shouldn't hurt. You need to be cognizant of the difference between muscle fatigue and pushing too far. Take your time when you are exercising. I would rather see you preform less sets or reps than speed through and injure yourself. As someone who has experienced many over-exercising injures in her 20s (plantar fasciitis, lower back pain, hip pain, hamstring injury, rib displacement) you don't end up ahead, you end up way behind. Live and learn I guess.

Remember it’s all about progress - not perfection.

Do you have an exercise routine that's working for you? I'd love to hear your experiences!

The final part of the 21 Day Reset series will be going up next Tuesday and it's all about optimizing sleep and reducing stress!

Thanks for reading,

Jen


P.S. Want the inside scoop on the best research materials I have come across in my studies of the mind, body and spirit? Click Here!


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  1. High intensity workouts are the only thing that helps me lose weight

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