Did you know those painful workouts are sabotaging your weight loss

The harder you work out the better your weight loss progress will be. (true) (false)

If you’re healthy enough to work out, a really hard work out can only make you healthier. (true) (false)

The correct answer to these questions may surprise you. It’s false. Working out hard puts your body under a lot of stress.

You work out a ton every day. You don’t ever skip a day to give yourself and your body some rest. That’s a workout record that makes you proud. It may make you feel proud, but is it making you feel good. I’m talking about feeling good in your head as in a general overall feeling of well-being and feeling good in your body.

When you’re not feeling well you refuse to let a little germ interfere with your workout. Your motto is, “Suck it up, buttercup. You can’t skip a workout.” it might be time to rethink how your exercise is really affecting your weight loss and your health.

It’s possible, no make it probable, that you’re exercising too much. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself. Are you:

  • feeling tired all the time?
  • having a hard time sleeping?
  • unable to go as hard as usual in your workouts?
  • experiencing a loss of interest in working out?
  • generally feeling irritable?
I’ve always said anything that’s bad for your body is bad for your overall health, as well as your weight loss.

Usually I’m referring to crazy, restrictive crash diets that deprive you of the joy of great-tasting foods you love, and your body of important nutrients. This time I’m talking about a killer workout schedule of killer workouts.

How can exercise be bad for you? Well, first, let’s remember I’m talking about too much exercise, and consider what happens to your body when you engage in it?

“Overtraining leads to a surge in the stress-hormone cortisol, which wreaks havoc on your metabolism, immune system, and mood,” says Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., CEO of The NY Nutrition Group. “Studies show that elevated cortisol levels cause your body to break down muscle and store more body fat around your mid-section,” she says.

Cortisol is necessary because it’s what drives your body to produce the power needed to exercise.  Stressing your body with too much exercise, however, is causing long periods of cortisol, but your cortisol hormone is meant to be produced in short spurts. Just enough to get you out of dodge. A little cortisol is good and exposing your body to cortisol for longer than normal periods is not good.

Too much exercise puts your body in a constant state of stress.

Your body thinks all this moving and hard work is because your very life is threatened. Why else would you be pushing it to such extremes if not trying to escape from immediate danger and death? It reacts by releasing the stress hormone, cortisol. The cortisol adversely affects your metabolism and your mood and causes you to store more body fat.

Here is another way that too much exercise sabotages your weight loss.

All that hard exercise and pain deserves a little reward. When you work hard a tiny reward is necessary to celebrate and maybe to maintain your motivation to continue with your heavy workout schedule.

If you’re buying yourself little gifts like a new piece of jewelry or an album by your favorite artist that’s not going to sabotage your weight loss. If you’re using your workouts as an excuse to eat more or add high-calorie treats to your daily food intake, then you’re going to have a problem with the scale.

If you just discovered by reading this that you’re sabotaging your weight loss by exercising too hard, here is what you can do.

Fight the urge to be extreme now that you know it’s not doing anything positive for your body or your weight loss.

Recognize that rest is needed if you want to continue to see progress. According to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, “full training recovery is essential to optimal performance.” If you get to the point of being unable to properly recover from your sessions and you’re not losing weight that’s a sign that you’re only  putting more wear and tear on your body and keeping it under the constant influence of cortisol.

Seek the advice of a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Get help developing a plan that includes workouts, rest periods, and combine that with your healthy food plan and healthy lifestyle strategies to make real and lasting progress. If you want to really see a boost in your progress add a weekly meeting to reinforce your weight related goals with an environment of group support.





Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.