I generally pick and choose my commitments wisely because I can become totally goal focused and a bit obsessed. The same is true for me with exercise. Generally, I would consider myself a pretty active person. I grew-up loving sports and continue to enjoy playing volleyball most Thursday evenings. However, I have never enjoyed working out. I have done it, but begrudgingly, because I wanted to look and feel better, not because I enjoyed it.
Years ago, a colleague told me that if I would just stick to running for 6 weeks, I would be hooked for life. Liar, liar pants on fire! Never happened, and I was committed. I have had gym memberships, worked out from home with DVD’s (VHS too, I might add), tried running, and we own a Bow Flex and an elliptical machine. To be completely honest I don’t really like working out at all. There are some workouts I like more than others (or should I say dislike less than others), but I would be quite happy playing volleyball, going for leisurely walks/bike rides, actively engage in play with my kids, and completely avoid working-out all together.
My relationship with exercise is quiet extensive as I have tried many things over the years, but like other things in my life, I tend to be “all in” or “not at all”. I have difficulty doing something a few times a week and in the past have done better when I have a daily commitment (or at least 6 days per week). I can successfully complete a 90 day program, but that kind of pace can not be maintained long term (at least not by me). I often follow these intense programs with spans of time in which I fall into the pitfall of doing nothing at all. Unfortunately, lately I have been so busy with my blog and home projects, I fall in the latter category and am not doing much of anything. Yes, I need to get moving, but at least there may be some good news for others like me!
What Are the Experts Saying?
I was pretty excited when I read Mark Stisson’s book and learned that he viewed exercise in a very different way than most. In his book, The Primal Blueprint, Mark talks about the disadvantages of chronic cardio and recommends a fitness regime that is more reminiscent of our ancient ancestors. The premise of his book is to eat and live like primitive man. ( I am not totally on board with this and don’t follow The Primal Blueprint anymore, but he has some awesome ideas regarding health and wellness). Mark recommends sprinting once per week, HIIT (high intensity interval training) once per week and weight training twice a week for a total of 4 days/week. For Mark’s complete work-out follow this link.
I receive The Plan newsletter from Lyn-Genet and her latest issue was titled: Do you exercise to gain weight, ruin heart health and hasten aging? Now that’s a title that caught my attention. Although the article is a bit of an ad for her fitness program, she does talk about the side effects of over exercising. Here is an excerpt from her newsletter.
We have been compiling information for over 5 years and have found that:
- Women (and men over the age of 40) who exercise 5-6 days a week may lose 25% less weight than those who exercise 3-4 times a week.
- People who exercised every other day often had the best results for weight loss
- Exercising for more than 30-45 min (depending on the exercise) may slow weight loss or caused weight gain.
- The biggest culprits are bootcamp, crossfit style classes, Bikram and spinning.
There is more and more research coming out to support the idea that over exercise is not only keeping us from getting the results we want, but may also be harming our bodies.
Here are two more links to articles that have similar claims: NY Times and WSJ
What Does All this Mean?
I know I feel better and sleep more soundly when I am exercising regularly, so I need to get myself away from my computer and get back on track. However, it also means that I no longer have to commit to intense exercise programs like Insanity and P90X, as I have done in the past. I think the key lies in the discovery of foods that completely agree with your body, so that you can begin to live each day without the inflammation that is resulting from specific foods in our diets. We can then use exercise as a way to supplement our healthy eating, instead of killing ourselves trying to lose weight through exercise. For me, I know that choosing the right foods has been essential in helping me to get my body to a place I feel comfortable. I am not completely there yet, as I really do have to begin to get back on track with regards to regular exercise, but rest assured, there is enough research out there to convince me that killer workouts and bootcamps are not the answer I am looking for.
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