Hey Beauties! I hope you all had a nice long weekend! I have had a busy few weeks with work, just trying to stay a float! I am sure you are all feeling it too. There’s something about this time of year isn’t there?
Anyway, I wanted to talk a little bit about my new approach to my workout routine as a whole and explain why I think that taking it a little easier is probably the best thing you can do for your body sometimes.
And when I say “take it easy”, I am still working out most days of the week (usually 6 days) and staying super active…BUT I am going at it at a slightly lower intensity on most days. Why would I do that? For a few reasons…
Not going balls to the walls at every workout sounds like it may be counterproductive, but it can actually help you avoid injury, get faster results, lose stubborn fat and lessen overall cortisol production.
Now, before I go into more detail I want to explain what your body goes through when you workout: stress.
Working out puts stress on your body. It is GOOD stress and has SOOO many incredible health benefits, but our bodies can’t differentiate good stress from bad stress. It just knows it is experiencing stress and reacts. Which kind of sucks…I mean I wish it could tell the difference between good and bad stress, don’t you??
Anyway, when your body realizes it is in a state of stress, it releases cortisol. Too much cortisol production can inhibit your muscle growth and cause you to hold onto fat, especially around the midsection. As you get in better shape, your body is better at dealing with the stress, but that pesky cortisol production is still happening whether you like it or not. And for some people, too much cortisol results in stubborn fat that just won’t budge. Studies have shown that the length and intensity of workouts affect the amount of cortisol produced in the body…which is why longer workouts aren’t always better.
Long, challenging, high intensity workouts lead to higher levels of cortisol. Shorter HIIT workouts also produce cortisol, but it wont be such a large amount. From what I have gathered, if you love cardio and HIIT workouts, it is best to keep them less than an hour in length and don’t do them every single day. Low impact stead state (LISS) cardio is great because you get all the cardio and calorie burning benefits without as much cortisol production.
All in all, it is difficult to find that perfect balance of going hard, but not TOO hard, you know? I LOVE super intense workouts, but I also don’t want my cortisol levels going through the roof day in and day out. I tend to hold weight in my stomach area anyway, so I want to set myself up to be lean and in my best shape possible…so lowering my cortisol levels is KEY.
I am doing this by adjusting the way I workout AND lowering my stress levels in my daily life- which I will get into next week in another post because I have some amazing tips for that! BUT adjusting my workouts has been pretty major.
So, that is why I have been going on my Stair Hikes all the damn time- they are low impact, my heart rate never goes too high and it is still a great workout. Power walking is also amazing whether you are outside or on the treadmill at a slight incline.
Aside from the hikes, I have been using the Sweat App and doing short HIIT workouts that are 28 minutes, 2 times per week. I also throw in a Lagree Method Pilates class and a longer full body HIIT class at Brick both once a week. I have been doing this for about 5 weeks so far and I am loving how I feel. I still feel sore after my workouts but less drained in a way. AND, I think my abs are starting to look more defined (score!), which is crazy because I feel like I am doing less and seeing more results! This is a new way of working out for me, and it allows me to really listen to my body more- I am very aware of when I need rest and when I need a little extra. Being able to have that type of body awareness is so important!!
Another huge realization I had recently is this:
Why risk injury by pushing myself too far in a workout? I mean…I’m not going to “win” the workout….and if I get hurt, I am the only loser involved!
That is why I take it easy when I need to. I used to feel this desperate NEED to run the fastest sprint in the class at Barry’s Bootcamp, to have the heaviest spring load in pilates, to win ANY timed workout…but now I am a little easier on myself about it. I still love a challenge and I love to win (haha- some things will never change) but I am not willing to hurt myself in the process.
The sad thing is that it took me getting injuries to make me have this grand realization. I injured my hamstring sprinting too fast in a Barry’s class and that injury took me 4 months to recover from. I tore a muscle in my shoulder during a boxing class by punching too hard and I am STILL struggling with that injury. These injuries are so frustrating, and so easily preventable by just not pushing too hard.
Think about sprinting on a treadmill for a second. What is your fastest speed you can handle for 30 seconds? It is probably pretty damn fast! I know my typical sprint speed was an 11 or 11.5 on the treadmill and it was so fast for me that I always felt like I was one second away from losing all control of my body. Now think about how fast you could sprint on solid ground, on the open road for 30 seconds. Could you achieve that same speed? Probably not! Why? Because the treadmill machine is MAKING you run at whatever speed you set it to- speeds that you can’t actually run at in real like. It is forcing your body to do something it normally isn’t capable of, which is kind of cool but also kind of scary. And doing this really puts your muscles under a lot of stress and can lead to injury. In fact, I have other friends who have also gotten injuries from sprinting on treadmills! So, instead of going all out in my sprints, I go at a nice level 9 speed which is still fast and challenging but something that I feel is way more in line with what my body likes and can do. Pick a speed that is difficult, but still has you feeling in control. We don’t want you flying off the back of the treadmill!
Another thing of note: with fewer insane workouts every week, I have noticed I am less ravenous and snack less, which is also a positive for the waistline. If you aren’t desperately in need of more fuel from all your workouts, you won’t be as hungry, you can control your portions more and make better food choices when meal times comes around. There’s nothing like feeling starved and desperate- it can result in eating too much too quickly or constant snacking, which are both not the best ideas when trying to maintain a healthy, happy weight.
Take in this information and consider applying it to your own workout routine. Doing a little less can make all the difference in your results AND keep you healthier in the process.