Exercise is a good thing, right? It's supposed to make you healthier, no? Doesn't it build muscle and strong bones? It improves cardiovascular health, right? The obvious answer to those questions is a resounding YES! But...
There is a "But" in there? Yep.
When the exercise is done excessively and you are not feeding the nutrients to meet the needs of your body because of the exercise AND you add in immense lifestyle stress, you have just created a molotov cocktail in your body.
Exercise is a stressor
Wait. I thought exercise was a stress reliever? Insert the next "But" here.
Exercise (especially long and intense sessions) takes your body out of homeostasis. It requires help from your HPA axis to produce stress hormones. You are no longer in the "rest and digest" or parasympathetic response. You switch to the sympathetic or the "fight or flight" nervous system.
You switch from regenerating your cells, digesting food, building your immune system, detoxifying and eliminating waste to jumping into defense mode to protect your from attack.
When we buy into the popular belief that exercise must be long and extremely intense, going as hard as we can for as long as we can and as much as we can, we drive our cortisol up and we don't allow recovery. This leads to adrenal fatigue.
No Rest Equals Burnout
I bought into that lie. For well over a year and a half, I sweated profusely. I exercised EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I lifted heavy and I ran for more than an hour at a time, sometimes longer depending on if I was training for a race.
I ate very little, slept less and ate even less than that. I was petrified of carbohydrates. Fruit was the worst offender. Oatmeal received a little grace. Barely.
The mission was weight loss. I wanted to be a fat burning machine. I desired the "perfect" body.
I hit the wall. I got very sick with an upper respiratory infection that resulted in me having to take off of work almost three weeks to get better. The effects of the sickness lasted months. Brushing my teeth took immense energy.
I was fatigued all day, every day. There was zero energy to keep up with the intense exercise patterns. And then immediately...the weight came back. I checked my thyroid and hormones and they were completely out of balance. My thyroid was not working optimally.
Over-Exercising and Under-Eating leads to Adrenal Fatigue and Metabolic Damage
What I found out was that my thyroid and hormone levels (like leptin and progesterone) had dropped to create balance. My cortisol was completely backwards from what it should have been. My fasting blood glucose levels were high. The result? It would take way more exercise to lose weight than what it had before.
I had placed severe stress on my body and I needed to rest in order to recover and feel better again. I had severe metabolic damage, hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue. This wasn't going to be a quick fix.
Quick Fixes Cause Damage
When I get clients asking me the fastest way to lose weight, my alarm goes off. Or if I hear, "I'm exercising every day and starving, why can't I lose weight?" that same alarm starts blaring. Punishing our body to get results is not the way to lasting weight loss. It only leads to burnout and metabolic damage.
Finding the root cause is the primary objective. Moderation and variance are key. Here is more of my story.
If you are struggling with recovering from over-exercising, under-eating, stress management, and little to no weight loss despite your efforts, I suggest you sign up for my new Revitalized Wellness 6-Week Group Program! We will address the key components preventing you from feeling your best. Join the waitlist here!