It’s extremely frustrating to wake up for five am workouts and realize you’re not losing weight, but actually gaining (cue the gasps)! We understand, we went through it too, and what we found will change the way you exercise.
The Culprit: Cortisol
The truth is, there is such thing as working out too hard. When your body is pushed beyond its limits it goes into panic mode. When your face is beet red and you can’t catch your breath, your body sees this as major stress and responds by releasing a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is our body’s “fight or flight” response to stress. It’s designed to kick us into high gear to escape emergency situations. You’ve heard the story about a mom who lifts a car up to save her trapped kid, right? – That’s a whole lot of cortisol.
So why does cortisol sabotage our weight loss efforts? While it means well, cortisol prepares our body for a famine by storing fat. This survival mechanism was very helpful back in the day, when we relied on hunting and gathering and didn’t know when our next meal would come, but now, not so much.
In addition to holding on to extra weight, when cortisol levels rise, blood sugar spikes, making you crave carbs and sugar! So, instead of reaching for a handful of protein-rich almonds after your workout, you go straight for the sugar-packed smoothie, a bowl (or two) of cereal, and then a handful of chocolate – triple whammy!
If your body is convinced it’s in panic mode your entire workout, the above chain-reaction will happen and you’re in trouble. But, we’re here to help!
Weight Loss Breathing
Nasal breathing is your number one tool for coping with stress because it calms your nervous system. You know when you see a child peacefully sleeping and watch their bellies rise up and down? That’s nasal breathing. As adults, with our stressful jobs and non-stop schedules, we forget we have this ability, but deep breathing keeps our bodies and minds calm. Give it a try: close your mouth, put your hands on your stomach, and breathe in and out of your nose. Feel the breath go through the rib cage into the belly and back up again.
So, stop huffing and puffing on the treadmill! Your goal is to keep breathing through your nose, even while working out. It takes some practice at first, but we promise you will begin breathing this way naturally.
Keep Calm and Burn On
Until you get comfortable nasal breathing while exercising, try lower-impact workouts. Think yoga, Pilates, bike riding, long-distance runs, or dance cardio. Check out our studio reviews to find the perfect class in your city.
Does this mean you need to stop going to your favorite boot camp class? Heck no! Just continue breathing in and out of your nose. If you start to push too hard, turn it down a notch. In this case, less is actually more.
So, ditch the “no pain, no gain” mantra and start de-stressing your workouts. In addition to ensuring fat burn, you will keep this calm all day long.