Relax, Don’t Do It!

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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Calorie Counting and Intense Exercise ~ Is it for You?

What Does 200 Calories Look Like?

First let me make something clear, I am not a calorie counter and don’t believe in it. However, this video is produced by Asap Science and is a great example of how to think about food and what your choices are doing for you.  For example, I rarely drink juice because it doesn’t fill me up and there are often many additives I don’t need.  I would rather go for a whole piece of fruit that is completely natural (minus all the junk that is added during the growing process) and will help fill me up.  Even without counting calories, this can help you make better choices.

Calorie counting is way too much work for me. I believe it is more about how certain foods react with your own body to cause weight gain, rather than just counting calories.  For example, through The Plan, I discovered that chocolate is a “friendly food” for me, but that 6 oz of sole fish will cause me to gain up to one pound, due to inflammation I experience as a result of eating it.

Cool and Fun Ways to Burn off 200 Calories

Asap just put out another video to follow-up on the first.  It has some crazy ideas about how you can creatively burn off 200 calories.  Some of the ideas are wacky and of course, you would never do, but others are quite doable.  Check it out.

Exercise and Weight Loss ~ A Battle of Perceptions

There are many that believe that hardcore workouts like CrossFit, Insanity, P90X and bootcamps are the answer to their body woes.  Within that group are those that truly love to push themselves through hard workouts and have great results with such programs, but there are also many people like me.  I have completed the P90X twice and tried the Insanity program, but quit because I thought I might have a cardiac arrest.  (Even I know my limits and when to break a commitment.)  I have to be honest.  I hate working out or at least those hardcore workouts in which my body is left feeling beaten up.  I hate intense cardio and when I am following a program or routine like the above it is has always been with one purpose.  Results.  Don’t get me wrong, at the end of such a program, my body would be leaner and I would feel great about myself and my accomplishment.  However, reality would soon set in.  There is no way that as a full-time working mom with active kids and a very demanding job that I can continue to keep up the pace of working out 1 to 2 hours every morning.  I would burn-out and be right back where I started in no time at all.  This system of chronic exercise simply does not work for me and I believe there are many others out there who are like me.  They do not love the intense exercise, but believe that it is the only path to get them to where they want to be.

Some experts are now saying that chronic exercise can actually have the opposite effect on our bodies and in fact cause weight gain.  In Lyn-Genet Recitas book, The Plan, she says:

Overexercising puts your body through stress.  If you’re exercising day after day, your body gets the message that it needs to hold on to more calories to keep up with the energetic demands.  It doesn’t know how much energy it will need, so it adapts to the energy requirements you are programming into it and holds on to more and more calories for potential future survival.  That is why chronic exercisers have trouble losing weight.

The Primal BlueprintMark Sisson also talks about the benefits of low-level aerobic activity along with some strength building and “sprinting” in his book called The Primal Blueprint.  The premise is that we were never designed to go to the gym 5 to 7 times a week.  He suggests dancing, hiking, gardening, swimming, rollerblading, ice skating, yoga, racquet sports or any other activity that keeps you active and that you really enjoy doing.  He couples this low-level aerobic activity with simple strengthening activities such as push-ups and recommends “sprinting” once  every 7 to 10 days.

What Works for Me

I have found that the key to my success has been the discovery of foods that react with my body.  Although I am still in the process of testing many foods to determine if they are “reactive” or “friendly”, it has been so empowering to know and understand my own body.  I am certain that my battle was not with the occasional sweet treat, but rather with my sacred group of “go to foods” that were part of our regular healthy menu.  In Lyn’s book, she identifies 7 specific foods as “The Devil Foods”.  It is not that these foods are evil, but rather that we are being deceived into believing that they are great healthy food choices when in reality they are reactive for many.

…the reason I get so worked up about these food is that people are making a concerted effort to include them in their daily diets, and


So what are the DEVIL FOODS?

  • oatmeal
  • salmon
  • asparagus
  • tomato sauce
  • tofu
  • black beans
  • turkey
low sodium chips

Kettle Chips available at all major supermarkets.

So, if you are like me and was on the “treadmill” of life trying to eat well and exercise like crazy to get rid of those extra few pounds.  Maybe it is just a matter of figuring out what works for you and your body.  Here are a few other foods that were part of our regular diet and that I discovered can be highly reactive for many people:  farm raised fish, corn (I already knew this one), thick crust pizza, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and grapefruit.  Would you believe I used to have a protein shake and a grapefruit for lunch everyday for 6 months?  85% to 90% of the population react to the foods I mentioned above. Who would have thought that a small of bowl of low sodium (Kettles) potato chips is better for me than a grapefruit!!


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