Most of the people I work with fall into two camps-- they either over-exercise and are not getting the results they want, or they're not exercising enough and are obviously not happy with the results.
Which one are you?
Over-exercising is something I'm seeing more of lately, so I'm going to focus on that today. As we age, our nutritional needs change, our digestion is affected, hormone levels deplete. We gain fat around the middle, in the thighs and butt, or on our upper arms that we didn't have before. We seem just a bit "fluffier" than we were, despite doing "everything right." So we exercise harder, longer, faster. And nothing seems to change.
MORE exercise does not equate to LEANER bodies. Nor does it equate with BETTER health.
Those of us in our 20's and 30's can get away with pushing ourselves super hard all the time. But as we age, what worked before no longer does. Our bodies tire of compensating for the constant beating, battering, and pushing. It burns out.
My solutions for this may seem counter intuitive, but I've seen these methods work time and time again. With some relatively simple tweaks to your routine, you can shed that "fluffy" layer and feel more like yourself again.
*Move More: In my experience I've found that the fittest people find every excuse to move their body in any way possible. In other words, a workout doesn't need to always be extreme or even planned to be effective. Finding ways to move your body that challenges you differently than the day before is key.
*Move Even More: Walking more often, taking the stairs, trying a new activity-- these things all count. Mixing up your routine works, too.
*Play Around With the Time and Length of Your Workout: Work out in the afternoon once in a while if you always work out in the morning. Or vice versa. Force your body out of its comfort zone, not always with intensity, but with length of your workouts as well. Do a short, quick workout once in a while. Take a long hike or bike ride. Mix things up.
*Do Something New: Try something you've always wanted to try-- many clubs/trainers/facilities offer free classes to whet your appetite.
*Did I Mention Move More?: Treat yourself to a walk during lunch or after dinner. (Check out my "Walking is Underrated" YouTube video).
*Add Another Rest Day: This might drive you crazy at first, but hear me out. We increase inflammation in our bodies with exercise. This is expected and wanted-- to a point. When we don't allow for proper rest and restoration, our bodies never get the relief from the inflammatory process. Puffiness, fatigue, extra fat padding, sweets cravings, overuse injuries, and poor sleep are all signs of over-exercise. Back off. The quality of your remaining workouts will improve and your whole body will thank you.
*Periodize: In other words, if you're training hard over a period of time, incorporate some lower-intensity days/weeks/months in to the mix. Some people focus on an intense month alternating with a more moderate month. Others go hard certain days of the week and take it easier the others. I personally do two high-intensity workouts a week (Spinning), three moderately-intense workouts a week (hot yoga), and one low-intensity workout a week (rebounding). I rest two days a week. I walk every day that I can fit it in, take the stairs every time possible, and use a fitness tracker to keep my activity level consistent every day. And I'm as fit, maybe fitter, than I was when I was pushing myself every day to the extreme.
*Hydration & Nutrition: This is a whole 'nother blog post. What I'll say here is that the older we get, the more watchful we must be with every single bite of food in order to maximize our health and stay the leanest we can. That doesn't mean becoming an orthorexic, or obsessing over our food. But it does mean that exercise alone ceases to work when we reach a certain age.
So here's the deal-- if you were suffering from the signs and symptoms listed above and were exercising a ton with little or no response, I would counsel you to slow down. It's not sexy, not exciting, and certainly feels like slacking. But it might be just what you need to get back on track.
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