04 May Too Much of A Good Thing? Why Exercising More Isn’t Always Better
Whenever someone establishes a health, fitness, or athletic goal, most people make exercise the number 1 priority. They’ll spend countless time looking for the holy grail of exercise. They’ll try to figure out whether they should do HIT cardio, lift weights, run outside, workout from home, etc. At one point they’ll pick a form of exercise and initially see results. After a short period of time, the results begin to slow down (which is normal btw). Now, this is where it gets tricky, because some people still make nice steady progress, while a lot of people won’t see any results or even their progress going backwards. When this happens, there are 2 paths usually taken (both wrong). The first one, they quit and tell themselves they just can’t get the results they were looking for. The other path is they begin to exercise more. Now you may be wondering, how can more exercise be wrong if the person is no longer seeing results? In some cases yes, the person may need to up the amount of volume in their workouts to keep moving forward. However, for the majority of people, the amount of exercise isn’t the issue! The reason this is most people haven’t completely made a complete lifestyle change outside the gym which can stop the progress right in its tracks. The fitness industry has done a great job at hyping up many different workout routines, promoting diet plans but not educating the public on 2 other key lifestyle issues, which should be prioritized over exercise. When designing a program whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, athletic performance, or health restoration, you must pay attention to these next 4 things.
1) Stress Management – Even though we have technological advances that’s made life so convenient compared to those who lived before us, many live in a more stressed state than ever. Many people are stressed out at work, stressed out in their relationships, get stressed in traffic (road ragers), in addition to a long list of other stresses. When in a stressed state the body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol has many important roles in the body but when it’s constantly elevated it wreaks havoc on you a person internally. When cortisol is constantly elevated it eats away at lean muscle tissue and causes the body to store belly fat. You may be thinking “isn’t exercise good for handling stress?” Yes and no. Exercise is a good release from daily activities and can really help you feel better after a stressful day. What people don’t realize though is exercise is a form of stress on the body. You’re breaking the body down so it can build itself back up. They call this eustress, due to the health benefits involved with exercise. Here where the problem lies, many people who are already stressed all day, begin to place more stress on themselves with exercise, with no stress management routine, you’ll struggle to see any progress from your exercise routine. Unfortunately, in this case, the more you exercise (especially the cardio junkies) the worse it gets. What does this mean, don’t exercise? Not at all. The point is we as a society need to do better at managing our stress. Every day we need to identify when we’re being worked up and have a coping mechanism to get away for a few minutes. I always recommend taking 30 minutes a day to do something relaxing like taking a walk outside, taking a relaxing bath, reading a book etc. We have to bring the stress down daily. When you do that you’ll begin to notice your energy levels go. You’ll also notice your body is burning fat better and becoming healthier. As this becomes a part of your daily routine, you’ll maximize your results from working and find you’ll get more results with less. I can honestly say, this is the least I’ve ever worked in my 16 years of exercising, but since I make stress management my number 1 priority, this is the best I’ve ever looked and felt.
2) Sleep – This is one thing we all know is important, very simple to do, but don’t make it a priority. Many people are sleep deprived, staying up late playing on their phones knowing they have to wake up early the next day. Not only that many are not getting good quality sleep due to being stressed out. Ironically, not getting enough quality sleep also increases your stress levels (see how this all is connected). One of my clients is a doctor and he was studying some research on sleep and came across a very interesting study. The study had 2 groups of mice, one group sleep deprived and one group food deprived. What was fascinating and shows how important sleep is, the sleep-deprived group died before the food deprived group. To put it simply, our body repairs itself during restful sleep. If you’re not sleeping, the body is not fully recovering from daily activities. If you’re not recovering properly and trying to exercise more all your doing is breaking the body down, not allowing itself to build itself back up which is the sole reason to exercise. We must make a concentrated effort to get quality sleep. If sleep is a struggle for you try adding Tulsi Honey Chamomille Tea, magnesium, and melatonin to your night time routine. Also, make an effort to cut your phone off 1-2 hours before you plan on going to bed. If you’re working hard, make sure you get some rest, your body will thank you for it.
3) Nutrition – You can’t outwork a bad diet! There’s no getting around it. If you want results, you need to pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking on a daily basis. The mistake many people make is, they partially pay attention to their diet and think they can just add in extra exercise to mask the bad nutrition decisions. Sorry to tell you, it doesn’t work that. Yes, for a cheat meal, exercising first can help minimize the effect of eating something bad, but it won’t do anything if you’re doing that on a daily basis. I talk with clients all the time who ask me “should I be doing extra cardio” and my response is no, you need to stop drinking, eating processed sugar or (insert bad habit they refuse to stop doing). A colleague of mine, when he gets a new client, he won’t let them exercise with him until they demonstrated proper stress management and nutrition habits. Once he feels they’ve made that lifestyle change, then he will put them on an exercise program. Now we all know the exception to the rule, the genetic freak who gets away with eating whatever and seeing results, but trust on this, this is not the norm, majority of the people need to eat to support their goals, and those bad eating habits will catch up with them later on in life.
4) Exercise – Finally, we are at exercise! Are you shocked it’s at the bottom of the list? I was too when I first learned about this concept. After testing and studying this wellness approach, I see that exercise has a role but the role means very little if the top 3 aren’t taken care of first. I’m not saying one shouldn’t exercise, you absolutely should. They focal point of the article is to teach people that lifestyle choices need to take priority and adding more exercise is not the answer to your problem. You need to be on a program (preferably strength training with weights) that factors in progressions, proper recovery between workouts, and variety. Just running outside for 2 miles a day is not going to do much for you. Also, going to the gym doing your favorite machines for 3 sets of 10 also won’t do much for you. You’ll look exactly the same 1 year later. If you want to see real changes to your body, you need to pick up the weights, break those muscles down, let them build back up, and sprinkle a little cardio in if you choose.
I hope this article sheds some light on the importance of lifestyle choices when it comes to getting results. Don’t make the mistake many people make by trying to exercise more. You’ll find with the proper lifestyle choices and habits, you’ll see phenomenal results with 3-4 days of exercise. If you need help with the lifestyle habits, we launched a new program Become Ingrained, which is designed to coach you through the things inside and outside the gym to make the compelete lifestyle change to get the results you desire. Thanks for all your support, if this article meant something to you, please share it with your friends by clicking the social media buttongs below! Thanks, Team I2T