I get it trust me, you start gaining weight or not fitting into your clothes and the first thought is, “Okay, time to eat less and workout more” and working out more generally means busting your ass 6 days a week on the treadmill, hitting up Orange Theory or the latest Boot Camp class.
Here is the deal, I was a cardio junkie for a LONG time. I also for a long time truly tried everything to change my body, long-distance running, Crossfit, HIIT workouts, Orange Theory, and any other class that would leave me feeling like I wanted to die.
And, for awhile, it worked. I lost a ton of weight, I fit into a size 0 jean and started getting compliments from people about what I was doing.
I started to feed off of this, and became totally addicted to fitness. Food became an obsession, and something I would use as restriction and punishment rather than nourishment.
Soon, my body finally started reacting to all of the stress. First my hair started falling out and thinning, then I started developing sleep issues, this turned into anxiety, eventually I developed daily bloating, and severe gut issues and then, finally, I gained about 20 lbs in 3 months out of NOWHERE.
When this happened, I tried everything I knew, cutting carbs, running more, keto, fasting you name it NOTHING would work.
This is when I had to take a step back and seriously re-evaluate. I started to educate myself more on stress and hormones and how all of this impacts metabolic function.
I realized my intense passion for wanting to lead a “healthy” lifestyle was actually making me totally “UN-healthy.”
Here is what I learned and totally BLEW my mind.
Your body is designed to adapt to whatever it is you are doing, this is a survival mechanism. Consistent cardio sends a very specific signals to your body. First is, you don’t need muscle because cardio does not involve much strength.
Second is your body begins to become too efficient with calories, meaning over time you start to burn LESS and you signal your metabolism to SLOW down.
Couple that with then restricting calories and you start to dig yourself into a deep metabolic mess.
You may lose weight initially, but that weight is mostly muscle mass, so you are losing muscle and actually storing fat more easily.
Overtime as your body adapts, in order to just maintain your results you have to either eat LESS and/or workout MORE and this is totally, completely unsustainable and really fng miserable, who wants to live that way?!
In addition to this, cardio also signals the stress or “fight or flight” response in your body, and when this is happening constantly it slows down your adrenal and thyroid function as well, both of which are essential for a fast and healthy metabolism.
It also signals a boost in Cortisol, which is a fat-storing hormone. The majority of Cortisol receptors are in your stomach region so it is common to develop a “cortisol belly.”
Okay, so now your in this mess how do you get out?
Enter strength training!!! Strength is the basis of everything you do, literally everything. Strength training also sends very specific signals to your body but they are very different than the ones mentioned above.
Strength training signals your body to BUILD muscle and get STRONGER. Your body starts to prioritize strength over being efficient with calories, which in turn signals your metabolism to begin to SPEED up AND you are able to burn more calories outside of the gym when you are sedentary.
Overtime as you strength train and slowly begin to increase your calorie intake (with high quality, real foods!) your body adapts to this, so you can now eat MORE workout LESS and feel amazing.
It is easy to simply focus on burning calories and seeing the number on the scale go down, but achieving a healthy body composition that you can maintain with ease, is all about proper hormone and metabolic function.
New to strength training? I would suggest starting with perfecting some of the basic movements:
- Push Press
- Bench Press
Start with light weight or no weight at all and aim for 8-10 reps with at least 90 seconds between sets.
I encourage you to find a good trainer who can work with you on form so that you are able to perform these movements safely.
You can create a GREAT routine with only 3 workouts a week! I know it sounds crazy because we have been taught, “But did you die?” and that driving your body into the ground 6-7 days a week means your a dedicated fitness guru, but that is NOT the case and will only create more problems down the road.
So, ditch the treadmill, pick up some heavy weights, start eating more and start enjoying food and exercise again.