- Always TIRED
- Always sore (I never seemed to recover well)
- Super hungry all the time
- Experiencing tons of cravings
- Dealing with periods that were totally out of whack (irregular and painful)
- Cold all of the time
- Bloated no matter what I ate
Sounds like a good time, doesn’t it? Not so much. In other words, I really was not in “good shape,” even though I should have been based on the exercises I was doing.
It was then I learned that just like food, exercise affects us hormonally. High-intensity exercise increases stress hormones in your body, which someone in good health can handle. However, if your hormones are already out of balance, high-intensity exercise can end up doing more harm than good, actually working against you rather than for you.
Think of it this way—if your vehicle (body) is out of gas (hormones are imbalanced/stress levels are high), it is like trying to drive your car without any fuel in it. This creates a situation that is VERY stressful on the engine. I was stressing out my body with exercise to the point that it was causing weight gain instead of weight loss. I finally realized that I needed to start listening to my body and stopped high-intensity exercises. I switched to walking and slow, controlled resistance training. I also began eating real food I could pronounce along with healthy fats while keeping my blood sugar balance. And guess what….my body started healing and I LOST WEIGHT.
My good friend and personal trainer, Ali McWilliams, had this to say about exercise and listening to your body:
I have to admit that it was hard for me as a personal trainer to let go of what the fitness industry keeps saying: work harder, work faster, more intense workouts are the way to go. But letting go of what I thought I “should” be doing and really listening to my clients and giving them what they need has been extremely beneficial and rewarding for both my clients and myself. Finding out where their energy level is at, how they slept, and what their day was like will determine what their workout will be for that day. Believe it or not, a walk and talk has been one of the healthiest and most effective workouts. Walk-coaching is what I like to call it. 🙂 A lot of my clients are healthier and happier when they’re walking, lifting weights and focusing on their breathing. Exercise should give you energy, not take it away. The fitness industry doesn’t tell you that exercise is stressful on the body. Listen to your body; it’s trying to tell you something.
This is NOT an article telling you to be LAZY or giving you an excuse to stop exercising. HOWEVER, if you are feeling like I did, you might want to pause and think about whether or not you need to change up your routine for a season. For me personally, I had to change my thinking and let go of feeling guilty about not completely overdoing it at the gym. I had to slow things down and be okay with the fact that I wasn’t working out to the point of exhaustion or leaving the gym completely drenched in sweat—because it wasn’t doing me any good anyway! In other words, I switched my thinking and realized I was doing something for my body; I was finally allowing it to heal.
So take some time to think about your current exercise routine. If you have one, is it working for or against you? And if you aren’t currently active, could you incorporate a 20-minute walk into your schedule, even if it’s just a few times a week? By changing how you think about “working out,” perhaps you can make room for some probably much needed time to yourself by taking a walk while listening to inspiring music or praying/meditating while you go, for example. You never know; making little changes like this over time can make big differences from the inside out…and just might change your life!
Two before pictures taken in the midst of my weight battle
Naomi and I on her first birthday this past January