The Connection Between Weight Loss and Exercise
Most of us have been there in some capacity during our lifetime. You hit a point, where you look in the mirror and wonder how those extra pounds sneak up on you. Then in the back of your mind, a little voice starts to tell you ” You need to lose weight, better start hitting the gym and look for a new diet”.
You start off with the best of intentions; you join a gym, or a yoga studio or buy a series of classes for something else that is currently trending. You start off with the ferocity of a lion, attacking the gym, planning your meals and tracking your water intake.
You feel proud of all of your excellent lifestyle choices. There is a multitude of health benefits that are far beyond what you may see on the exterior. Making nutrition and exercise a priority is one of the most significant decisions you will make for self-care.
You get into your “new found” healthy lifestyle but start to watch the needle on the scale and maybe your weight loss isn’t coming as fast as you want it to happen or even worse it doesn’t seem to be happening at all. Frustration sets in, and then you can get discouraged and ultimately fall back into bad habits and throw up your hands then turn back into the proverbial couch potato!
Yes Sticking With It Is Always Worth It!
When you are the end of your rope and want to give up remember; it is always worth it. There isn’t even a question when it comes to whether to push forward or fall back. However, there are several things to remember and tips to follow when embarking on your weight loss journey.
1) Working Out Burns Calories – Working With a Calorie Deficit
So what exactly is the connection between weight loss and exercise? There is no doubt, when you work out, exercise burns calories.
What does that matter? When you burn more calories, you can afford to eat more calories plain and simple. When you are trying to lose weight the energy in energy out quotient is imperative to success. While burning more calories is important what is going to matter the most is the quality of workouts and remember to have the appropriate amount of rest between workouts.
How do you know how many calories to eat and burn? There are a lot of theoretical calculations out there to make an educated guess at how many calories you need to consume and deplete. However, the most accurate way to assess how many calories you should be eating and burning is doing a Resting Metabolic Rate and SubMax VO2 test.
The Resting Metabolic Rate Test measures your caloric expenditure and oxygen to carbon-dioxide use so you can maximize your weight loss and increase muscle definition. When your goal is to lose weight you need to ensure you are ingesting enough calories for your body functions while still maintaining a calorie deficit.
The Sub Max V02 test measures the rate of oxygen during incremental exercise. Your max oxygen consumption reflects your aerobic physical fitness and is an important determinant of your endurance capacity during prolonged, sub maximal exercise. It will also tell you how many calories you are burning for the 4 different training zones.
Once you have each test done, you put together how many calories you are eating or need to consume against how many calories you are burning and then you will have the exact number of calories vs ingested to meet your specific goal.
Consistent exercise also helps with the added benefits such as decreased blood pressure, increased energy levels and improved sleep.
2.) Cortisol – What Is It and How Does It Help or Hurt Weight Loss?
Cortisol is a vital hormone that is made by the adrenal glands which then releases it into the blood and transports it around the body. Most of the cells in the body have receptors for cortisol as it performs many different actions in the body.
Cortisol helps to control blood sugar which in turn aids in modulating metabolism. Cortisol acts as a potent anti-inflammatory, it works quickly to remove and prevent redness and swelling of nearly all tissues. Cortisol also controls the salt and water balance, which influences blood pressure, increases in weight gain and heart disease. It also plays a significant role in other functions, including how your body breaks down carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins.
Cortisol also helps with high levels of stress. But what happens when you have too much stress and therefore too much cortisol? When you start to produce too much cortisol over an extended period of time, you can develop a variety of symptoms. The symptoms include: rapid weight gain mainly in the face, chest and abdomen contrasted with slender arms and legs, a flushed and round face, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, skin changes (bruises and purple stretch marks), muscle weakness, mood swings, which show as anxiety, depression or irritability, increased thirst and frequency of urination. High cortisol levels over a prolonged time can also cause lack of sex drive and, in women, periods can become irregular, less frequent or stop altogether (amenorrhoea).
Fortunately, there are many natural things you can do to reduce your cortisol levels. Get the right amount of sleep because timing, length and quality of sleep all influence cortisol. Exercise, but if you suspect high cortisol levels, not too much. Depending on the intensity of exercise, it can increase or decrease cortisol. Be sure to consult your physician and personal trainer about how much is too much. Stressful thoughts are an important signal for cortisol release. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a strategy that involves becoming aware of stress-provoking thoughts and replacing worry or anxiety with positive thoughts, slow breathing, and heart rate. Nutrition influences cortisol for better or worse. Sugar intake is a classic trigger for cortisol release. The good nutrition news? Two studies of 95 adults showed that consuming dark chocolate reduced their cortisol response to a stress challenge! Taking probiotics and prebiotics are friendly, symbiotic bacteria in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Prebiotics provide food for healthy bacteria. Both probiotics and prebiotics help reduce cortisol.
3.) Sleep Is a Key Ingredient to Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss
While you were lying awake, the perfect storm was brewing for one of the biggest precursors to an increase in body fat. Sleep deprivation sends a signal which prompts people to eat larger portions, crave carbohydrates or dense energy food which can create substantial weight gain. When you are fatigued, it also makes everything seem more difficult. You won’t push yourself to get to the gym; you might go for the fast food instead of making a healthy dinner or get that sugary snack to boost your mood and energy levels mid-afternoon.
Sleep is nourishment for the brain! Adults need a minimum of 7 hours per night because inadequate sleep impacts your hunger and fullness hormones, which include ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin is a hormone which signals your brain when it is time to eat. When you don’t sleep enough, you produce more of this hungry hormone which causes the mid-afternoon or mid-night munchies.
Leptin is the other side of the hormone coin; it signals your body when it is time to stop eating. When you aren’t sleeping for an adequate amount of time, or you are sleeping sporadically due to shift work; leptin levels crash which will signal your brain to tell the body to eat more food.
So when you aren’t sleeping it’s a recipe for disaster because your hunger response is out of control, which will inevitably lead to overeating and weight gain. Add in the cortisol spikes from lack of sleep, and your body won’t be breaking down macronutrients properly either. All of this means you will start to hold onto fat in all the wrong places.
Tips to sleep better at night include shutting down your computer, cell phone, and TV one to two hours before you hit the sack. Create a bedtime ritual that sends messages to your brain to relax such as taking a bath or reading a book. Go to bed at the same time every night and turn out the lights; darkness cues your body to release the natural sleep hormone melatonin, while light suppresses it.
Reach Beyond Weight Loss
Find a coach that understands where you are at in your lifestyle journey and have her or him create a plan for lasting success. Hiring a certified Personal Trainer through Infofit is one of the best investments you can make with regard to your overall health and fitness. If you are serious about a future, fuelled by healthy eating, increased activity and infinite possibilities, then start with your very own Infofit life coach and personal trainer.
Stop Overemphasizing Weight Loss – Create Health First
Most people overemphasize weight loss when they start a plan to get healthy. What should come first and foremost is an emphasis on balanced nutrition, healthy amounts of exercise interspersed with the right amount of rest, getting into a proper sleep pattern through a healthy lifestyle and meditation. Stop seeing the scale as the only measurement of success for yourself. What you really need is a passion for being the best possible you. Create the person that you want to be and learn self-love!
Cathie Glennon – BCRPA/SFL