It may come as no surprise whatsoever that not all types of exercise are suited to everyone. Exhibit A: you smash yourself at the gym 4-5 times a week – one hour solid workout sessions that leave you dripping with sweat and exhausted, muscles aching and too stuffed to really eat anything afterwards. And speaking of afterwards, your diet is borderline perfect. You eat well, always small portions, low in refined sugar and starchy carbohydrates and are very cautious of what you put in your mouth. Yet the scales will not budge. In fact you might even be gaining weight.
Sounds like you? Well this example is very real and I see it happening every day at my gym, where girls and guys bust their guts and eat really well, but aren’t seeing any real results. It’s painful to watch, yet the trainers are simply pushing them harder, making them do more despite them not making any physical changes.
So what’s going wrong?
As with food and diet, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise and over exercising certainly does not work for everyone. In fact it may actually cause your body to gain weight as these hour-long sessions impact on your adrenals, causing cortisol (the “fight or flight” stress hormone) to rise due to increased stress and therefore blood sugar levels increase, leading to insulin resistance and fat storage.
What can you do if your exercise is making you fat?
- Mix up your routine. Instead of hitting the gym hard every other day, add some less strenuous activities to your routine. Try and do some yoga, Pilates, swimming or walking and change the level of intensity.
- Swap your usual hour-long gym sessions for some quick interval or ‘Burst’ training, no more than 20-30 minutes per day, with large rest periods in between. Do 20-30 seconds at 110% intensity (eg squat jumps) followed by a 1 minute rest. Build up to 1 minute training at 110%, followed by 2-3 minutes of rest, for 20 – 30 minutes (no more than 30 minutes). Trial this out for a week or two and see if your body starts to change.
- Get more sleep. Sleeping reduces the stress response and allows your body to repair itself. One hours sleep between the hours of 10pm and 3am is worth two hours outside these times, so get to bed earlier and give your body the rest it deserves. Try taking some magnesium for muscle relaxation and hot almond milk with honey for calcium before bed if you’re struggling to sleep, and make sure you turn off all electronic equipment at least 30 minutes before bed as these are too stimulating for your brain.
- Get your adrenals tested, specifically cortisol. Hormones are behind every single thing we do and if you’re truly struggling to lose weight but doing everything you know right, you might be suffering from adrenal fatigue and elevated cortisol levels causing insulin resistance. See your health care practitioner or natural therapist who can help you get your adrenals regulated and save you the pain of busting your butt with no results!
Are detox diets all they've cracked up to be?
People tend to get very confused by the word detox, and with a million and one programs out there it’s not only difficult to know which one is right for you, but whether or not they’re even worth the pain and suffering for the money (lemon detox diet anyone?).
Also as your body detoxifies itself every single second of every day anyway, is it therefore even worthwhile committing to an expensive organic cold-pressed juice diet when your body is perfectly capable of cleaning itself anyway?
Yes and no.
At the moment I’m on a detox affectionately known as Feb Fast. For those who have not heard of this its main purpose is to give up alcohol for the month of Feb, however I’ve taken it further by also cutting caffeine, refined sugar, gluten and processed foods completely out of my diet for 28 days. Pretty hardcore.
A detox like this is a fantastic way to clean up your diet and remove unnecessary toxins, therefore allowing your body to concentrate on repairing itself from overindulgence and abuse.I don’t believe it is particularly necessary to embark on expensive diets hung up on calorie counting or liquid only food, however I do believe ‘cleaning up your diet’ for a few weeks has some amazing benefits:
- You will determine if you have any food intolerance’s. Cutting out gluten, dairy and refined sugars for an extended period allows you to see how amazing and energetic you feel without these foods in your diet. When/if you introduce them back in, take note of any reactions you may experience. You may find you have a lactose intolerance which would explain that 3pm bloating and tummy pain.
- You’ll get amazing skin and hair and clear eyes. Removing toxic foods and alcohol means you’ll look fresh, skin will looked plumped, hydrated and glowing, plus your hair will look healthier from having all the additional nutrients in your diet.
- It will help you create healthy long term habits. Even starting the morning with a fresh lemon juice in warm water is a great daily change your body will thank you for, stimulating digestion and alkalising the body. Cleaning up your diet for a few weeks may also mean you make healthier food choices in the future when cooking and eating out.
- By cutting out caffeine and refined sugars you’ll notice stable energy levels throughout the day. After getting over the usual sugar and caffeine withdrawal symptoms (ie a headache for a day or two), that annoying 3pm slump dissipates. Who would have thought going OFF caffeine actually makes you more energetic!?
- Weight loss. Yep, most people will experience some sort of weight loss when they detox, whether it’s due to a decrease in water retention or a decrease in inflammation from the elimination of a food allergy.
- Pride and willpower. How amazing are you going to feel after a whole month of being kind to your body, nourishing it and eliminating those problem foods? Pretty amazing. Permission to gloat granted.
- Money saving. Think of all the coin you’ll save not drinking! Time to get your hands on that cute frock you’ve been eyeing off. In a size smaller…
If you would like to join me on my special detox plan, email firstname.lastname@example.org so you can start to reap these benefits today!