And yet, this is exactly what I see happening time and time again to the women who come to work with us in Fat Loss Cooking School:
They are training 6-7 days a week, sometimes doing 2 workouts in one day. They may put on a good game face and suit up in cute athletic gear to look the part, but underneath it all they are tired, run down, and their motivation is waning. They want to stop. They wish they could break the vicious cycle - workout, eat, overeat, workout more, eat more - but their fear of gaining weight keeps them trapped.
You have to break this cycle before the cycle breaks you.
Not All Exercise Is Created Equal
Just because exercise is a good, healthy activity does not mean that more is better.
In fact, almost all forms of exercise have some kind of negative impact on hunger and cravings. Think about it: you are moving more, so of COURSE your body is going to want more fuel! Yet so many women think they can outsmart their own bodies and try the eat less/move more approach to body change.
If you are trying to lose fat, hunger and cravings are your top enemies. You want to avoid anything that makes you more hungry and increases cravings - and that may mean taking an honest look at the type and amount of exercise you do.
Exercise doesn't happen in isolation. It's not simply about "burning calories." Like food, it is information for your body. Every time you exercise, there is a hormonal response, and those hormones can either work for you or against you.
Certain types of exercise - especially when done in excess - cause an increase in appetite and an increase in cravings for the wrong kinds of foods. The obvious culprit here is long-distance, steady state cardio or "aerobics" - but you can just as easily overdo it with weight training and Crossfit as well. You can't hit heavy leg day or big Olympic lifts and expect your body to be fine with a little grilled chicken salad.
The only form of exercise that doesn't stimulate appetite and cravings? Restorative exercise like leisure walking and gentle yoga. When I suggest these to women trying to break the over-exercise cycle, they look at me like I have three heads.
"You want me to...WALK? Slowly? But...that doesn't burn any calories?"
"I don't really like yoga. It's not intense enough. I don't get my heart rate up."
YES. And that's exactly the point and why you should be doing it! Training for fat loss isn't about training more, it's about training smarter.
When Injuries Strike
If you are exercising 6-7 days a week, and sometimes twice a day, it's not a question of if you will get injured, but when.
What happens then?
You've been using exercise to manage your weight and burn off excess calories. Once that tool is off the table due to injury, you'll find yourself packing on the pounds because you have no idea how to eat - and are likely used to eating more than you need.
I've seen this happen time after time to fitness professionals (especially group fitness instructors) who lack discipline in their diet and use the fact that they teach 15+ classes a week to "eat whatever they want."
This is not a sustainable strategy for a healthy, fit body.
Using nutrition as your primary body change tool means you can do it any time, any where, indefinitely. IF you do get hurt, you keep your nutrition tight and use the downtime to heal, rest, and recover. And frankly, your metabolism could use the break from training from time to time.
Nutrition first. Training second - and just enough to get results. No more.
Calories In Is Easy. Calories Out Is HARD.
It's much easier to eat 600 calories than it is to burn it - especially if you like eating out.
While on vacation in Las Vegas this week - where many restaurants now post the calorie information on their menus - I was blown away by just how calorically-dense restaurant food is. A meal that I could make at home for under 500 calories is somehow a 1000-calorie meal in a restaurant. (Likely due to bigger portion sizes, excessive amounts of sugar and fats, etc.)
One cupcake. Half an appetizer. A couple cocktails. Those go down EASY and ((poof)) just like that - you've consumed 500-600 calories in just a few minutes.
You'll need roughly one hour-long group fitness class to burn 500-600 calories, and that only covers HALF of the calories in your typical restaurant meal.
It wouldn't be worth it - except that sugary, fatty, salty food is oh-so-delicious and lights up our brains' pleasure centers to convince us that it is.
If you are stuck in the exercise cycle and desperately ready to make a change, you must learn how to eat in a way that is sustainable, that works for the metabolism you have RIGHT now (because yes, it changes.)
The way you train should compliment your diet - not hijack it.
Our next round of Fat Loss Cooking School starts on Monday, February 12, and we have less than 20 spots remaining. This is your opportunity to finally get a handle on how you eat, so you can get off the hamster wheel and starting eating and training in a way that best serves your health.
We will not be addressing exercise or doing special workouts during FLCS because I want you to ONLY focus on nutrition with us for 4 weeks. Once you have these tools and strategies implemented, THEN you can layer back in your favorite workouts in a smart, sane, sustainable way.
What do you say? Are you in? We have an amazing group of ladies ready to jump in with us on Monday and we would LOVE to have you join us! All the details are here on FatLossFoodies.com - and if you have any questions, just email me at LeslieAnn@FatLossFoodies.com.
Click the button below to learn more and reserve your spot in this program that has transformed the lives and bodies of hundreds of women since 2013.