Monthly Archives: April 2016

Why your exercise routine isn’t working for you (and what to do instead)

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I had a client ask me, after our half hour ish session: So are you sure I don’t need to do a full hour of weights? Like the only determining factor was the 60 minute mark on the clock.

I assured her that the goal was not strictly the time but the effectiveness and focus of the workout. The next day she texted how incredibility sore she was and surprised by how much she got out of a workout in less time.

I too admit that it took me several years to get use to the idea of not counting the minutes. Growing up an athlete my workout schedules were hours. Sometimes double days. Sometimes practice and weights in the same day. And when the real world of adult fitness came I didn’t consider my workout a real one unless it was 60-90 minutes and I was breathing hard the entire time.

I remember when did CrossFit a few years back. I immediately loved the intensity of the workouts but with the workouts ranging 7-20 minutes with a few longer ones thrown in, I found myself doing extra sets of exercises just to make up the time different.

Within the past few years I have found a happier, middle ground. I don’t count time. I don’t feel the need to run myself into the ground every single workout. Just because a workout makes me breathe hard does not indicate a better workout or predict better results. I don’t workout more simply to burn more calories.

But it is hard. It is hard to relinquish old notions and what we think we should do. I see many clients who feel if they can’t give an hour, they might as well do nothing. Then I see others who go at maximal effort every days for a couple weeks only to get injured, sick or lose motivation, only to take weeks off at a time.

So today let’s talk about 3 common mistakes that many people make when it comes to exercise  and what to do about it.

You think more is better.

Alwyn Cosgrove coined a system called the Hierarchy of Fat Loss that I want to share with you in regards to working out.

Essentially he says that when time is a limiting factor you need to prioritize what *type* workout you will do that will most benefit your metabolism and preserve or promote muscle mass.

Our resting metabolic rate (RMR) uses the majority of our calories throughout the day. Even if you workout for two hours, there are still 22 others to account for and the amount of muscle you have on your body will help determine if your metabolic rate is higher during that time. This is weight training plain and simple. If you have 30-40 minutes 3 times a week to workout choose weight training.

If you have additional time you add interval type training which can also burn more calories and elevate the metabolism post workout.

IF you have additional time after that during the week that is where you can add steady state cardio like jogging, dance class, walking, cycling or hiking. I consider this bonus work and always choose something I enjoy.

You are not honest about your workout nutrition. 

I use to think I could outwork poor nutrition. Not even poor nutrition, just eating as much as I wanted, when I wanted.  Or skipping means after or before my workouts just to “burn more fat.”

 I quickly learned I could train as much as I wanted but if my diet was not in check, neither would results.

Plus I would get caught in this eat more, exercise to burn more cycle that repeated itself time and time again, only to leave me in a regretful, guilty mess.

Workout nutrition prior to and after exercise and throughout the day is crucial to support the movement and activity you are doing. There is so much talk of certain supplements, when to eat, what to eat that I know it can get confusing.

I even talk to clients and friends who say they don’t like to eat post workout because they feel it negates all their hard work or people who try to resist food all day thinking that the more hungry they, the more effective it is.

But your body needs fuel, it needs recovery, and it needs nutrients.

Use carbs and protein post workout to help refuel your bodies energy stores and repair your bodies muscles.

Check your intake of nutrients by what kinds of foods you are taking in during the day. Are you getting enough through fruits and vegetables? Do you have a balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats?

Be honest about your portion intake. Are you paying attention to whether you are truly hungry or if you are eating out of emotion and stress?

Proper nutrition in correlation to solid workouts and recovery is highly overlooked by many but highly important. Without this focus there is a great chance you can become sick, injured, lose energy or motivation because your body is not properly fueled and/or recovered.  I put together a super simple, easy to follow workout nutrition guide that you can snag here.

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Post Workout “milkshake.”

You want results and you want them now.

Get your mind right. Patience and consistency.

The less perfect you can be, the more consistent you can be and this is actually a really great thing. Even writing this, it is a great reminder that I don’t have to do everything perfectly, I just have to do a few things really well.

We get so caught up in perfection, doing enough, and getting results quickly that we overlook the importance of actually developing lasting habits, of focusing on methods that are sustainable and really getting to know what works for your body, metabolism, lifestyle and preferences.

Trying to do it all takes A LOT of mental energy, mental energy that we don’t have. We have jobs, families, kids, relationships, and a life to be enjoyed outside of eating and exercise.

Eating and exercising perfectly is an illusion. So is getting lasting results after a few weeks or months of hard work. If you are in it for the long haul it doesn’t matter how quickly you get results, it matters more that you have the patience to put in the work time and time again. You don’t have to do everything well, just a few things.

Get my FREE Super Simple Workout Nutrition Guide full of easy to follow tips and strategies to keep your body

I actually do regret that workout. Why listening to your body is one of your greatest tools for success.

 

 

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When I get personal and share my story I must be honest I sometimes wish my health and fitness journey was a little more black and white.

Like I wish I could say I lost 40 lbs post baby or I use to be overweight and unhappy and today I am healthy and confidence as can be. It feels like it is more inspiring to see someone drop 5 sizes or show up with 6 pack abs then me telling you about how listening to my body was key in my own personal healthy transformation.

And I am not talking about listening to if my body is hungry or not, I am talking about a true and dire need to slow down and do less, to get more. You see I have a had a HUGE transformation, it is just not as clear to the eyes of others.

The other day I came across that quote that you always see floating around online, “ I really regret that workout said no one ever” and it made me laugh because I used to share that bullshit. But you know what? I most definitely have had workouts that I have regretted. And pushing through workouts or running myself into the ground just to breath hard is not always the best answer or most effective way to train.

When more is not better.

One Saturday morning in the summer of 2013 I found myself in tears sitting in a slumped, crossed legged position on my yoga mat, trying to do an at home workout. It consisted of 10 birddogs alternating, 10 air squats and a set of 5 kneeling push ups. I vividly remember it and you know these exercises are far from high intensity. But I was experiencing extreme fatigue and extreme and chronic back pain. I had not had an intense workout in weeks.

But I just couldn’t get my heart rate up and if I couldn’t get my heart rate up how would I stay in shape? How would I exercise? Would I gain all this weight? All I had done all week was walk. I gave myself a rest (for 7 days) and I was still in so much pain. What is wrong with this picture? I just couldn’t bring myself to allow time for my body to heal.

Fast forward to the present and would you guess I have finally have felt some reprieve in my adrenal fatigue type exhaustion (the only thing I can compare it to). Yes that is nearly 3 years since I began my rest and recovery journey.

I would say from the years 2010-2013 I did NOT listen to what my body truly needed in terms of my health. I ignored it time and time again, giving in to the notion I so easily accept now. More is not better. I thought more willpower, more discipline, more restriction and more working out was the answer to not only my body goals and success but to my happiness as well.

Now I know it is the exact opposite. The more you try to use willpower, restrict and talk down on yourself the harder it is to get where you want to go. You absolutely do need to put in work and effort, just not in the ways you think.

You body hears everything your mind thinks.

The trouble with me personally with my health, was that my mindset was completely screwed up and during those years I had a mini health breakdown where my emotional stress was manifesting itself physically. Though I was at a healthy weight and body composition, I experienced what I can only compare to as some sort of adrenal fatigue or excessive exhaustion.

No doctor would diagnose it as that of course and every test I ran came back normal. Iron was good. Nope I didn’t have celiac disease. My thyroid was fine.  But I wasn’t.

I would take naps at my sisters house when we had bbq’s and get togethers with friends. I would wake up exhausted after 10 hours sleep. I would start workouts with the feeling I typically should have mid workout, heart racing. My adrenaline was on overdrive. I tried taking a few days off. Didn’t help. Tried taking a week off. Didn’t help.  So I did the next best thing. Started up CrossFit (insert sarcasm).

For someone who loves to workout as much as myself, it was so very difficult to grasp the idea of rest and recovery. I thought if I could just push through it I would be ok. If I just took a couple days off my body would thank me.

But this whole exhaustion concept is kind of like weight gain. You don’t notice it right away. You don’t gain weight from eating one double bacon cheeseburger and you don’t ruin your metabolism with one intense workout. But at some point, it could catch up. And for me it did.

My saving grace was an odd one. A miserable one actually. It was what I now affectionally refer to as my 365 days of back pain that saved me because I was in too much pain to do anything but walk. I had no choice but to rest and let my body heal.

Here is how I did it.

I did not have a diagnosis of anything in particular so it was kind of up to me to decide what to do.

I stopped all intense exercise. CrossFit. Long runs. Anything that got heart rate up quickly or for prolonged periods of time.

I started focusing on rest and recovery activities in equal parts to my workouts. Walking, yoga, massage, and hot baths.

I kept moving in ways that my body allowed. Slow air squats, weight machines. Walking. Basic yoga. Exercises prescribed by my physical therapist. 

I started training from the inside out. Mindset and emotional well being first. Physical second.

I started focusing less on willpower, discipline, restricting and doing more exercise and started focusing on why I do things, habits, moderation and making peace with my body.

What you need to know.

 

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You don’t have to run yourself into the ground.

We think the answer with exercise is more, more, more but I like to say the answer is not more exercise but smarter exercise. Smart exercise is exercise that you don’t have to add more time (hours) just to get results. Smart exercise is exercise that encourages a healthy metabolism. Smart exercise is exercise that gives you the most for your time. Smart exercise is finding ways to move that you enjoy, or can at least tolerate.

You don’t have to workout everyday.

You do not have to commit to a hard, intense workout everyday to get results. Though for me personally I commit to some type of movement everyday. That could be a walk, 10 minutes of yoga, or maybe a 15 minute workout just to get moving or a foam rolling session. I find that this helps with my productivity, well being and keeps my health priorities in the forefront of my mind. 

I find that most people do great on 3 strength training days a week and then anything on top of that is bonus. IF you are challenging yourself enough in your 3x a week workouts, your rest days will be crucial in your recovery.

Challenge is all relative your journey.

What is challenging to you may not be to someone else and challenge can come in different forms. Currently I challenge myself with lifting heavier but give myself tons of rest. Breathing hard for extended periods of time or even short bursts is not the only way to create a demand on your body.

If you don’t have control of your exercise you still have control of your diet.

If your workouts have to lessen this does not mean your health has to go out the window. If workouts and exercise are reduced for a period of time you can always balance that out with your diet. 

If we can just slow down and listen to what our bodies truly need we will find that we are able to get stronger, leaner, happier, whatever it might be, with more ease. You supply the action and the universe will provide the time. You just need a little patience and self trust.

6 amazing things that start happening when you stop doubting yourself.

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“Doubt is the rust of life. Doubt hold you landlocked in paralysis unable to move either way. The time you spend doubting is the time you are not alive. So rid yourself of the doubt, take that step one way or another, your heart knows what is best, but take it right now.” Author Unknown

In all transparency the time this quote rang true the most was I in the midst of trying to make my marriage work 4 years back (pre divorce). I was so broken and unsure about what to do and I desperately wanted a sign to point me in the right direction.  I was paralyzed by the possibility of each decision and what it would be bring and how I would be affected. The truth was either way I would be affected. Either way it would be hard.

I had an overwhelming feeling of what I “should” but I also had a gut wrenching instinct of what I wanted to do.

I think doubt floods in and out of our lives at different levels of intensity. Sometimes it is with big things like marriage, relocating, or switching jobs. Other times it is with little things like what to eat and what to wear that day (females know this).

No matter the experience it keeps us locked in a state of uncertainty feeding worries and anxieties about making the best decision possible. It leaves us wondering if we are worthy enough, if we are good enough. It requires us to take a stand on either who we are or what we believe and put that out to the world, without knowing how the world will respond back.

Yes sometimes we need time to think, to contemplate,  to make smart decisions by analyzing all the potential outcomes, but sometimes we also need the permission to just make a decision that we know is in line with what we need, want, or what best fits the situation so we can take that next step forward.

Self doubt is paralyzing and while we all want to make the best decisions to impact our lives, realize that we can only control the decisions we make and how we react to them, not the outcomes itself. There are no guarantees on outcomes.

It is scary to take the next step without knowing exactly how things will workout, but along the way you build the values of confidence, conviction and resiliency.

“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” ~Honore de Balzac

 

It becomes less scary and you learn to get comfy with newness, change, and discomfort and know that whatever life throws at you, you will be ok, one way or another.

Going through a divorce was one of the most life altering events I have ever experienced. It was the only time I had ever lived alone or supported myself in my life and here I was with the world saying, “Here you go Adele. Here is the freedom to figure it out and make it happen.”

But I did it, quite well I might add. It built my courage, bravery and confidence and make all the other unknowns a little less life shattering and that is why today I am talking about amazing things that happen when you stop doubting yourself and start trusting yourself.

You get less attached to the outcomes and more engaged in the process.

Getting attached to outcomes is like a game. You either win or lose and tie your emotion in that. The worry with self-doubt always remains, what if? What if things don’t workout? What if I struggle? What if I am not good enough? How will people react? 

All these are valid worries but none of these are solutions to any problem. Sure you can forecast and create a back up plan, lets say if you leave to a new job and it doesn’t work, but excessive worrying and contemplating drains mental energy that you could be applying to other pursuits. It doesn’t really do anything to help the outcome.

BUT when you can learn to put that energy into the process of figuring it out, doing the work, comfortable or not, you give yourself more power in the process. And like the quote above says, “When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.”

You have more confidence in yourself and what you believe in.

When you doubt less and find more conviction in your choices you build more confidence in your values, yourself and what you believe in and stand for.

Is it easy to describe what you stand for, or what you believe in? Or does it make you shy away and wonder what you really want out of life?

Can you freely share your opinion with others without worrying how they are going to react? Or do you hide it because you feel unsure? Do you doubt your opinions or do you back them?

The more you stand behind yourself the more comfy you get with what you think, feel, and value and feel less worry in sharing it with others. You learn and grow and build more confidence in the process.

I know for me, I have grown over the years and have done best to conform less and expand myself more. Sometimes you just have to show up to the world as you are and be ok if certain people aren’t on the same page as you.

You realize you don’t need to be perfect.

Author, Brene Brown says, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” and I just love this because so often I find we tend to think that if we can’t make the perfect decision we can’t make any at all.

The more you give yourself permission to just be good the more your choices will relinquish control over you. It doesn’t matter if your choice is the 100% prefect choice, it matters more that you learn to figure out whatever the choice gives to you.

I use to feel this way with eating and exercise. I just wasn’t sure what to eat or how to workout to the absolute best of my ability to get the best results. What if carbs were my problem? Maybe I should do Paleo? Should I be running more or lifting more? I don’t know. What are the perfect choices?

I’ve learned that trying to make the perfect choice often leads to no choices. Or a lot of mental anguish spent trying to figure it out.

I would collect more and more information, seeking the perfect plan without really implementing anything to see if it worked. I was constantly searching, constantly wondering, constantly doubting, unable to take action, unable to move forward.

But once I did. I built confidence, mistakes and all.  I made more choices,  built more confidence and the cycle now repeats itself.

You build resiliency.

I love the word resiliency as it embodies strength. Strength though hardship, strength through discomfort, strength through life. Falling and getting back up. I don’t want to crumble when life gets tough or hard because it is inevitable that it will.

Even if you feel you crumble in moments it is how you come out of it that matters. You learn to embrace the discomfort instead of constantly seeking safety.

I don’t want to question my actions, my thoughts, and who I am on a regular basis worrying I don’t meet certain standards, wondering if I am good enough, or it my choices will equate to the perfect outcomes.

While tough times are uncomfortable and frustrating they build our strength for the next obstacle.

You get comfortable with discomfort.

One thing in life I know for sure is that is does not always feel easy and that we will experience challenges and struggles. When you put yourself out there in moments of discomfort you get better at dealing with them.

“The best way out is through.” Robert Frost

This can be as simple as doing something new each day, that is out of your comfort zone. This can be having the difficult conversation you don’t want to have instead of avoiding it. This can be as simple as making more decisions.

This can be as simple as facing a fear. Not something you are terrified to do but maybe something you have always really, really wanted to do that makes you a little fearful but a little excited as well.

The best part is with this is that you don’t let failures hold you back, you don’t avoid situations that can benefit you just because they are not so comfy, and sometimes, sometimes, you get over that big huge fear you have been hiding from.

You find clarity in your thoughts.

Self-doubt, either with who you are, or with your decisions, is mental clutter. It is an operating system that leaves you in a state of misery because nothing is ever good enough, nothing is ever certain.

Once you start to practice trusting yourself more, with your choices, and who you are, it frees up some mental space in your head. Decisions don’t feel quite so agonizing. The challenges have a light at the end of the tunnel. You find value in who you are and what you believe in,

You start to do more of the things you want to do in life.

You start to live your life intentionally each and everyday.

You start to embrace who you are and what you believe in.

And you give yourself and other permission to do the same.

I would love to hear your thoughts on self-doubt  in the comments on my Facebook page!

If this stuff resonates with you I send out weekly emails on food, fitness, and mindset! Click below to access exclusive content from Adele.

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How I did less cardio and got better results

Quick disclaimer:

I hesitated sharing these pictures because at the time I was really dissatisfied with my “before” picture but looking back I feel I looked just fine.

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Back in 2011 I received the best piece of fitness/health advice I could have only wished for in my earlier years and that was to do less cardio and lift more weights.

Now let me be clear. I am not trying to villanize cardio or imply that it is useless or has no benefits. It has many benefits for cardiovascular health, endurance and mood enhancement but if body change or weight loss is your goal I stand firmly behind the idea that there are more effective and efficient avenues that will lead to better results and stronger bodies.

You see, back in 2011 I was running 3-5 miles up to 5 times a week. Or trying to anyways. I was miserable with it to be quite honest. It hurt my back and my hip. It made me feel bloated and puffy. It shot my appetite and cravings through the roof and I didn’t enjoy it one bit.

BUT I had this irrational fear that if I didn’t run for that long and didn’t get my heart rate up for that long and if I didn’t burn 400-500 calories on a run I would gain 20 lbs and not fit into my jeans. At the same time I would come home and try to resist my out of control appetite only to eat more than I cared too and wake up the next day to run it all off. And so the cycle continued.

You know how they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? This was it.

So when I got this piece of advice to focus strictly on weight lifting I begged and pleaded for at least a day of swimming. Like somehow I needed permission, and that one day of cardio, to be able to move forward with this plan.

To me this whole scenario is ironic. We gets attached to notions of more is better, burn more calories, get better results. We fail to look at things like the health of our metabolisms, the effect hormones have on our body and if what we are doing is actually working. We get safe in our routines and comfort zones even when it may not be our best option.

At the time I was secretly terrified yet intrigued by this no cardio proposal. Without knowing, it was the beginning that changed everything for me with the way I currently think about eating and exercise. So instead of just telling you to choose more effective and efficient exercise or just telling you to do less cardio let’s break it down.

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Less cardio, more weights. I always pay attention to my nutrition, just to be clear, focusing on nutritious choices and portion control as often as possible. I also want to clarify that is though that the tan is real on the 1st two pictures. From swimming at the time. 🙂

What is effective, efficient exercise?

In my book effective essentially means the exercise you are doing is getting you the results you want. Efficient means you are getting that exercise done in what I sometimes refer to as the minimal effective dose.

You DO have to put in the work but not always in the amount of time you think. Some workouts claim you get results on 7 minutes a day or 5 minute bouts during the, and while I won’t argue that can benefit you in someway, you need at least a short time block to dedicate to your workout to challenge your body enough to get results.

If body composition or fat loss is your goal the more effective way to get results is through weight training. By creating this kinda of stimulus for your muscles you will impact your hormones and metabolism in a positive way, the kind of way that reshapes the body, and will build a strong, well-functioning body for years to come.

Your time is probably spread thin as it is so feel some relief in knowing that you don’t need hours a day to get results. A well-designed weight workout can be done in under 40 minutes and I know many people who have gotten results on close to 30 minutes a few times a week.

Super Simple Solution:

Ask yourself. Am I getting the results I am seeking?

Does it feel doable to fit into myself lifestyle on a regular basis?

If you answer no, start by adding 3, 30-40 minute weight sessions a week. Choose weight heavy enough that you feel challenged by 10-12 reps.

But I enjoy my cardio!!

If what you are doing is working for you, keep doing it.

Through, I know several runners who love running but don’ t get results. I know several people who love dance class but are still unsatisfied with their bodies. Cardio itself is not the problem, it is the way it is used.

I like hiking and swimming but I don’t do it with a calorie tracker in hand and I don’t feel scared or anxious if I don’t do it like I use to. I don’t use it to burn off food or choose it over other valuable parts of my day.

Like I said above, cardiovascular training is great for the heart, lungs and can be a mood booster so by all means add it in but not with the expectations that it is going to be your magic bullet to weight loss.

The effects of the hormones produced when weight training are necessary to add muscle and burn fat. When we neglect weight training and overwork our bodies through excess cardio, not only can we be prone to more injuries and increased appetite, we can also raise cortisol levels (our stress hormones) which can affect our sleep, appetite, mood and well being.

Cortisol is not inherently bad as we need it to help break down our fats, proteins, and carbs, but when elevated for too long ( steady state cardio, over training, life stress) it can have detrimental effects.

Super Simple Solution:

Prioritize 3 weight training sessions a week and then if you have more time add enjoyable cardio and movement throughout the week.

Consider the effect of exercise on your appetite

Some research shows that moderate intensity exercise may have an increase on your appetite and hunger levels while shorter more intense exercise ( metabolic resistance/weight training, interval training) may decrease your appetite. Low intensity exercise like gentle yoga or walking seems to have a neutral effect.

While this is always different for everyone start to pay attention to whether this may be true for you. Did that marathon training boost your appetite?  Does a couple hours of cardio make you more hungry? Are you overcompensating with food after workouts and negating the effects of exercise all together?

I know I sure did! I would do my 4 miles of running, come home and eat my 400 calories back and more within an hour. Looking back I would have been better off not doing that miserable workout at all.

Super Simple Solution:

Pay attention to how you feel after different types of exercise. Start to experiment to see what workouts for you.

So what happened when I started to do less cardio?

I focused solely on weight training first at least 4 days a week. I did one day of swimming because I liked it. Over time I started to experiment with different types of workouts like CrossFit or similar metabolic conditioning workouts with weights, shorter more intense cardio sessions, and relinquishing the need to rely on cardio.

I had better control over my appetite, I enjoyed my workouts more, and I started to fit into my clothes better. I became less obsessed with the idea that I had to do more, just to get more. If find yourself caught in this cardio cycle give these super simple solutions a try and trust the process along the way.

Get my FREE Super Simple Cardio Guide to help you start to learn how to make your cardio sessions more effective and not take over your life with 12 of my go-to cardio workouts.  Shorter cardio, better results.

Resources here and here for additional information on topics discussed in today’s post.