We all know that exercise is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. However, we also know that too much of a good thing can often backfire. The popular notion is that if you eat less and exercise more you will stay slim and feel great. While this is true for overweight and sedentary individuals, it’s the complete opposite for others. If you exercise religiously and strictly watch your caloric intake, you could likely benefit from exercising less.
But how could this be true?
Exercising is an important part of weight management – just not too much. In fact, over-exercising can do more harm to your weight than good. When you work out too much, this causes a spike in the stress-level cortisol and your body goes into a state of survival. Increased levels of cortisol mean your body can’t burn off fat and ultimately promotes weight gain.
Sure, intense workouts like spinning, boot camps and high-intensity interval training 4-6 times per week may help you lose fat and gain momentum at first, but after eating too little for too long and pushing your body way too hard, the results come to a halt. I often see clients in this situation that complain about low energy levels, poor gym performance, weight gain and difficulty sleeping. Not exactly a recipe for success.
The Key to Weight Balance
Although it sounds completely counter-intuitive, the key to balancing your weight is incorporating more restorative exercise like pilates, yoga and walking in nature. If you’re an over exerciser and you’re not feeling your best despite doing everything “right” then replace 2 of your intense workouts a week with a more restorative form of exercise and take 1-2 rest days per week. If you have plateaued with high-intensity training, it’s worth it to cut back and see if that makes a difference. To make it as easy to follow as possible, here are my guidelines:
- Stop counting calories
- Eat real, whole foods
- Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re satisfied
- Take a mandatory 1-2 rest day per week
- Experiment until you find the form of exercise that is fun and makes you feel great. Don’t just exercise to burn calories!
If you’ve been following the “eat less, exercise more” mentality and you feel stuck, try this out for a week or two and see how you feel.
The key point to take away here?
Despite what we’ve all been told, too much exercise may be making it harder for you to balance your weight. Respect your body by allowing it enough time to rest and recover and don’t be so hard on yourself. You will notice your clothes fitting looser, your energy will return and you will feel happier and more at peace.
Danica is a holistic nutritionist, wellness expert and health coach on a mission to help women around the world find their optimal well-being. She is the founder of Nakd Health, where she coaches clients to prioritize wellness in their busy lives with delicious recipes, nutrition advice, fitness and lifestyle changes.