As we head into the new year, many will be making resolutions in regards to fitness and exercise. This is great to see, but I also wanted to point out that just like one can be too lazy, one can be too active as well. The truth is, spending tons of time on a cardio machine is going to do nothing but put unwanted stress on your body. Furthermore, it actually isn’t that hard to make positive changes in your body by doing very little! You just have to know what you’re doing. If it were up to me, one’s fitness regimen would include three main components:
1) strength training with challenging weights
2) high intensity interval training (HIIT)
If you like another type of fitness, it can have it’s place, too. I like to do other things to stay active, like an occasional kickboxing or dance class, but I try to put my focus on these things the most. I really hate to see people spending too much time workout out. My “cardio days” are HIIT and last around 10-20 minutes max. My strength days may or may not take a little longer, but they include plenty of rest between sets, and still I’m usually done in 45 minutes or less. The point is to maximize the time you have and then be done. Don’t let it take up your whole day, because 1) ain’t nobody got time for that! and 2) all you’re really doing is putting your body in a state of stress. You are hurting your adrenals…[pause for a little anatomy and physiology lesson]
Adrenal glands produce hormones in the body that regulate blood sugar and provide us with energy. But being constantly under stress (i.e. through too much exercise for example) can take a toll on your adrenal glands and they will stop producing the necessary hormones that keep your body running with optimal energy.
“When the adrenal glands are not functionining optimally, you can have a condition that is known as adrenal fatigue, or adrenal exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue often develops after periods of intense or lengthy physical or emotional stress, when overstimulation of the glands leave them unable to meet your body’s needs.” (source)
symptoms that your body is under too much stress and your adrenal glands are suffering include:
- excessive fatigue and exhaustion
- feeling rundown or overwhelmed
- difficulty sleeping
- feeling of not being restored after a full night’s sleep
- food allergies/struggle with digestion
- extreme sensitivity to cold
If you think your body needs some rest, then by all means GIVE IT REST! The other day I read a status saying something along the lines of, “My first rest day in two weeks!” Sorry, but I’m just not envious of that, nor do I think it is healthy. I’ll stick with my short-but-intense workouts a few times a week and feel refreshed, energized, and happy because I’m taking care of my body and not adding unnecessary stress in an already stressful world; I’ve got plenty of that coming from other things, am I right?!
To those looking to say, gain or lose weight, I believe the most success will come to those who focus firstly on the diet and nutrition aspects of things. After all, how you look (and feel!) is determined by 80% nutrition, 10% fitness and 10% genetics. Ever heard the phrase, “Abs are made in the kitchen.” ? Someone had it right! This doesn’t mean restrict calories as low as possible, but instead to make healthful choices and put real, whole foods into your body.
My goal is not to scare people away from exercising, but rather to provide a bit of a warning to make sure you are doing it in a healthy way that will BENEFIT you instead of HARM you.
In case anyone wants to start their New Years off with one of my favorite forms of interval training, Tabatas, then here is a tabata workout filmed by my beautiful friend Gina, better known as The Fitnessista! This was my workout yesterday! Tabatas only take 4 (intense) minutes to complete and I did the routine twice, making my total workout time 8 minutes for the day. Perfect!
Fitnessista’s 4 Minute Tabata Video:
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014!
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