Weight-loss Trap #3: Spend More Time at the Gym

There was a time in my life when I was a slave to the gym.

I used to spend hours at a time there, trying to work off what I had eaten that day or splurged on over the weekend, which then led to, that's right, the post-workout meal I completely justified by all the calories I had just worked off.  

I see people around me everywhere falling into that same trap.

What I learned (thankfully not too late) is that, unfortunately, you can’t work off a bad diet. And to add insult to injury, working out for extended periods of time actually does more harm than good.

Working out more keeps your body stressed

At the height of my desperation to make my body respond to my efforts, I worked out 6 days a week, 2 hours per day. I did cardio, weight training, Pilates, Yoga, Zumba and boot camps of all kinds. I did this while sticking to a 1200 calorie diet. 

And I never lost any significant weight.

And I damn sure didn’t keep off whatever I did lose.

All I really lost was my motivation.

I gave it my all. I really did. I thought the problem was my body betraying me. I was at a complete loss. I asked the personal trainers at the gym what I was doing wrong and was assured the weight would come off if I just kept doing what I was already doing. Patience was the key. Exactly how patient did they want me to be? It had already been 6 months with lackluster results!

What I didn’t know was that, by working out as hard as I was, I was putting my body in a state of prolonged stress.

This constant stress caused my body to produce more cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, which serves a purpose when it’s really needed.

Unfortunately, most of us are walking around in this constant state of stress and our bodies never return to a relaxed state. By staying in this stress-state, cortisol can cause a myriad of health issues that include high blood pressure, suppressed thyroid function, lowered immunity and, drum roll please, increased belly fat! 

Move in ways that feel good

I’m not a workout hater, I just personally don’t enjoy the gym anymore after multiple experiences that left me feeling like a loser (and not in the good way).

I do think moving is important, though. I like yoga or bouncing on my rebounder, which is good for the lymphatic system (but that’s a whole other blog post). Now, I choose to move in ways that make me feel good without worrying about what it’s doing for my waistline.

Instead of focusing on things like cardio, go for interval training. You’ll be able to knock out an effective workout in 20 minutes or less. Our bodies were built for this. And it gives you the same benefits you would be getting from a traditional cardio workout without putting your body into a high-stress state for prolonged periods of time. 

My thinking is that if you address what you are eating and when you're eating it, the workouts become much less of a focal point.

The desperation of working off those cookies or loaves of bread you ate will become distant memories.

And you'll find the freedom to workout in whatever way feels good for you without attaching it to an outcome on the scale or tape measure.