Do you bust your tail at the gym day in and day out, yet you can’t shed a pound? (Or maybe you’re even gaining!) I know too many women who follow restrictive diets, depriving their body of what it needs, all while putting it through hell at the gym. I can relate. I used to do this, too. The thing is, it’s not worth it…and weight loss doesn’t work that way! This strategy can actually backfire…
Why exercise alone won’t cut it:
For years we’ve been told, “burn more calories than you take in and you’ll lose weight!”, so it’s no wonder we spend hours upon hours running or “ellipticaling” to burn as many calories as we can. Yet, to this day, there hasn’t been a single study showing that exercise alone causes significant weight loss (and certainly not sustainable weight loss). There’s so much more to it than that.
One of the main reasons burning tons of calories through exercise can still result in NOT losing a single pound is because of an important thing you don’t hear about very often from weight loss experts, doctors or the media. It’s called inflammation. Exercise causes inflammation in your body. And if you exercise too hard on a regular basis, this causes an abundance of inflammation that your body isn’t getting a break from, so it compounds and builds and your body can’t heal it. This explains not only your inability to lose weight—as your body is essentially constantly fighting fires inside of you—but it’s also why you can actually gain weight from exercising too much—because of all the compounding inflammation!
I learned this the hard way when I began running marathons. When I continued to gain weight while adding more miles to my daily runs, I discovered it was due to the inflammation my long durations of cardiovascular activity was causing in my body…that I wasn’t getting a break from.
The same is true for everyone at the gym on the elliptical machine for upwards of an hour —they’re giving themselves gold stars when they are actually doing more harm than good.
Here’s what happens: Essentially, inflammation drains your metabolism because your body is focused on healing. Your body knows inflammation is bad, so it allocates all of its energy toward destroying it. Until this inflammation is taken care of, you won’t have much (if any) energy leftover for burning fat, kicking cravings, or feeling vibrant, energetic or healthy. In fact, it’s practically impossible to lose weight while in this constant battle with the inflammation inside of you (and even if you were to lose a few pounds with strict dieting, you’ll surely end up gaining it all back because you did so without addressing the actual reason for the pounds hanging on in the first place!).
PLUS, double whammy: “Chronic cardio,” (as it is referred to), can also increase your body’s production of cortisol—your stress hormone—setting you up for weight gain by raising blood sugar levels and triggering the release of insulin, your fat-storing hormone. No thanks!
3 things you can start doing TODAY to start losing weight:
1. Take a break from the gym. A healthy first step is taking a break from intense workouts for a few weeks, and embrace yoga, pilates, and lower intensity exercises. If you are putting in long hours of endurance activity every day and don’t give yourself a break, how do you expect your body to recover? Every time your body is inflamed, it focuses on healing that inflammation as its top priority. Not weight loss. Not energy. Not happiness. Just healing. Now, giving up the daily gym grind doesn’t necessarily mean you need to completely stop exercising (although sometimes we have our clients completely take a break as their body is healing.) What it could mean for you is simply cutting back on the workouts in order to allow your body to heal, and then focusing on a variety of workouts. It’s important to note that not all types of exercise are created equal. It’s the chronic, repetitive, daily endurance activity that is counterproductive and inflammatory.
After a few weeks of focusing on more healing types of exercise, add in short bursts of activity at high intensity intervals, a few times a week, to support your metabolism. (See point # 2! And check out this blog post to learn what I do for my workouts, why I do them, and how they have evolved)! And, make sure you are well rested so that you can do harder, albeit shorter, workouts. Exercising in this way supports your metabolism the most without promoting inflammation. Just like it’s downright mean to restrict your body of the nutrients it needs (like fat or calories), subjecting your body to a constant state of inflammation is dishonoring it, too. Give your body periods of rest and recovery, and listen to it rather than doing things to it that it doesn’t like.
2. Start incorporating HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Intensity is more important than frequency when it comes to the best workouts for weight loss. This may be the simplest metabolism-boosting switch that you can make: changing from the long, slow, boring, hamster-wheel workouts to shorter bursts of high intensity intervals with rest days in-between to properly recover! This type of exercise gives your metabolism a jump-start without causing stress (inflammation) in the body. High intensity interval workouts are alternating short periods of intense exercise with recovery periods. It’s as simple as doing some exercise and then resting. These high intensity interval training workouts are the kind that really turbocharge your metabolism, and as a bonus: they don’t require great lengths of time…also awesome! For your intervals, you can mix it up by including sets of both cardiovascular activity and resistance (strength) training to keep your heart pumping and your muscles strong, too. Jumping jacks, mountain climbers and running up and down the stairs count for cardio, and squats, pushups and lunges are more strength training exercises. Burpees and squat jumps are both! What I personally recommend (and do) is that you set your stopwatch for 30 seconds. Do sets of the exercises I just outlined, and any other moves you love for 30 seconds and then take a 30-second break in between sets. The break is to allow your body to rest so that you can push yourself hard again, but not so long that it fully recovers between sets. You can do 20 seconds on and 40 seconds off, or 15 seconds on and a 45-second break, especially when you first start this regimen, or when you’re beginning to feel tired, like toward the end of your workout. You can start with just a few minutes of this and work your way up to 10 or 15 minutes at a time, based on how your body feels. I suggest starting with three to five minutes of this interval workout a few days a week, and you can work your way up to ten or fifteen minutes a few times a week. This type of workout can be done at home without going to a gym, and when the weather is nice, you can do the same type of thing outside—30-second intervals, alternating between running and walking—or skipping if you’re adventurous!
3. Make it a point to HEAL the inflammation! If you’ve been over-exercising, then in order for you to lose weight, it’s going to be critical for you to not only take a break from inflammatory workouts and then gradually add in the best types, but you’ve got to heal the underlying issue—what’s blocking you from losing weight in the first place (inflammation!).
This is the most exciting part of it all! Until now, you didn’t know why your workouts weren’t working. You probably even felt a little crazy, or like there was something wrong with YOU because no matter how hard you tried, nothing seemed to work. Good news: It’s not your fault! There’s nothing wrong with your body, and your system isn’t broken. Inflammation is the culprit, and the reason you’ve been struggling all this time.
You can address inflammation through my proven 3-Part Approach to Controlling Inflammation:
- Halt it.
- Heal it.
1. We need to halt the inflammatory triggers to prevent further inflammation from happening! We need to work through all of the various ways that inflammation is caused (exercise is only one of many!), and put a stop to these, so that we aren’t adding more and more inflammation.
2. We need to heal the inflammation that’s already there (and likely built up over years and years.) This is a critical piece. Most women we work with have been working hard at building great HABITS (like exercising and eating right), and by exercising less you are helping to HALT IT, and that’s helpful, here’s the kicker: If you’re not healing the existing inflammation, you’ll never be able to lose the weight (and keep it off!). The inflammation is your #1 culprit, which means you can do all of the diets and workouts in the world, but without addressing the root cause, you’ll keep feeling like a failure as you find yourself continually stuck in that painful cycle of dieting, and weight/loss gain without ever breaking free of the pattern.
3. We need to build lifestyle HABITS around HALTING and HEALING so that this becomes second nature! When we live a lifestyle of keeping inflammatory triggers out, and partaking in daily healing measures for ridding any inflammation that does sneak int (none of us are perfect!), then THIS is where the magic happens. This is where you experience a life of freedom, where you feel empowered, confident, fit and toned — no longer bound to your weight struggle, and off the diet roller coaster, for GOOD!
Where do I start?
There are a few more steps you can take right now to start working this 3-part approach to taking control of the inflammation so that you can start to lose weight (and keep it off!) and feel better than you have in years!
I’ve done a lot of research on this, and there’s a lot to learn. I put together a free guide to get you started with 7 simple steps so that you can finally be liberated from the endless dieting cycles and lose the weight once and for all!
Click to download the free guide to learn the 7 simple ways to heal inflammation and melt away those unwanted pounds. And don’t forget to focus on intensity more than frequency and round it out with adequate rest, while you are taking the measures I outline in the free guide to heal the existing inflammation so you can melt the pounds and feel great throughout the process… yay!