Will Workout for Donuts
Have you ever noticed those shirts that say “Run now, Wine later” or “I run for cupcakes”, etc.? Of course you have! They’re clever, cute, and funny, right? I’m going to be brutally honest here, those shirts drive me nuts! Why? Because they are spot on and people buy into it, but expect change. Most people do run, or workout, so they can indulge in whatever it is they love. Here is the bad news. Changing your body doesn’t work that way. All those shirts are lying to you. Yes, if we get down to the basics if you burn as many calories as you eat you’ll maintain your weight. If you burn more than you eat, you will lose weight and vice versa. The chances of you working out enough to cancel out the calories from that donut is tough!
Confusing? Let me tell you a little story about me that might help make this a bit easier to digest. Or at the very least, it will give you something to chew on.
Last summer, I found myself in the habit of working out 2, sometimes 3 times a day. I don’t mean I walked a mile, then did some core work around noon, then lifted a little later. I mean I taught an hour spin class in the morning, I would do my regular strength workout which would take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. Then, because I loved the energy in the class, I would jump into a conditioning workout with lots of sprinting. Walking the dog at night wasn’t even included in my workout count. On the days I was determined to workout once, inevitably a client would cancel, I would have time to kill and a co-worker would ask me to jump in on their workout. In the beginning, I could have argued that I was just having fun. By the end of the summer I had created an outrageous habit I felt I couldn’t back down from. You’re probably thinking “well you must have been in the best shape of your life, though”! Well, I wasn’t. I was exhausted. I would get home at night and crash. Maintaining anything in my life outside of the gym felt impossible. My brain was foggy all the time and I gained weight! How is that possible? That messed with my head a ton. Here I was busting my butt, how could I possibly gain weight moving like that? Well the comfortable answer is “well it’s just muscle”. It wasn’t. My bodyfat percentage also was the highest it has ever been. How could this happen? I was so tired all the time my brain could’t process much other than the fact that I was also ravenous all the time. So, anytime I was around food I ate as much as I could. No one can workout that hard without eating a ton. I was also doing a lot of cardio, so I ate all the carbs I could find. By the end of the summer I was exhausted, dealing with annoying muscle tightness and aches that didn’t go away easy. I felt like every workout was the hardest one, but felt at some point I was going to achieve progress!
How is that possible? Our bodies are meant to be pushed and can take a good amount of punishment, but this wasn't smart or efficient. Your body is only only meant to be pushed so far. Everyones body has a different limit. What happened to me won’t be the same for everyone. However, there is a good chance if you’re working out hard 2-3 times a day, you're over training. You’re breaking down your body and not allowing it to recover. There is even a better chance that you feel like your burning 10,000 calories a day and can eat absolutely anything you want, but you’re not.
Here is the flip side. Last fall I finally got very adamant about only working out 1 time a day and sometimes twice if I wanted to add in 30 minutes of aerobic or anaerobic cardio. My body began to recover and I wasn’t starving all the time. I was more capable of controlling my diet and I lost a couple pounds. My body fat even changed for the good!
This spring everything sunk in even deeper. My winter was crazy, I started a new job, my grandma passed away, I was dealing with very minor medical issues that left me drained. With all that happening I found myself going down again. I was tired all the time, impatient, and not a version of myself that I liked. I finally realized, while I couldn’t control all the circumstances I kept finding myself in I could control one thing. The food I put in my body. I didn’t know if it would be a big enough solution, but I needed more energy and I needed to be nicer. So, I figured I would control what I could and I stopped eating processed foods, I stopped eating dairy. Okay, I’ll be honest, there is always dark chocolate in my house, but one bar will last me two or sometimes three weeks. If I am at someone’s house for a meal, I’ll eat what they have. If there is wine around on the weekend I’ll have a glass or two. I am only working out once a day. Every once in a while I might get a good bike ride in and then workout, but that is nothing compared to my workouts last summer. I also workout 4-5 days a week instead of 5-7. My workouts are more goal specific and efficient, as well! What are my results? I have energy, which means I don’t have to schedule a nap in my day, anymore. My cardiovascular endurance has significantly improved. My brain fog is gone most days (I’m planning a wedding, so it’s not completely gone!). Then, without trying I have dropped 10lbs and almost 4% bodyfat.
Bottom line? You can’t out train a bad diet. It’s not cliche, it’s true! Everybody is different. Every person will respond to different workouts, diets, and sleep schedules, in their own way. Can you do exactly what I am doing and see the same results? Probably not. You can try a few things and see what works for you. I would recommend doing your research and trying a few things, but stick with it for at least three weeks to see any sort of change. Don't just do it for a week.
In close, I am going to ask you this. Do you have a problem with discipline? I would recommend changing your thought process. Most people do things for themselves. If you're a parent, think about not doing it for you. Make the changes in your life, to help the people around you. When I am alone and there is a pint of ice cream in front of me, I might not care about myself enough in that moment to say no to that ice cream. However, I care about the people around me a lot. I don’t want them to have to deal with someone who is tired all the time and grumpy. I want them to get the best version of me, all the time. In order to make sure that is what they get, I say no to the ice cream and suddenly it’s a easy thing to do. Maybe you have kids? Do you want the habits that you struggle with to be the same struggles that your kids will end up struggling with, as well? If the answer is no, then work on changing for them. Your kids are watching and will do the same as you. Change now, so that your kids don't go through the same issues you are dealing with. When you allow yourself to look past you and at those your health might affect, that donut and those cupcakes don’t look so appetizing anymore.
Please, if you have questions or need help with sorting out the next step towards becoming a better you, contact me here.