What We Can Learn From Reality TV About the Fallacy of Working Out Too Often

It’s Saturday morning and I’m catching up on paperwork and cleaning the kitchen which I enjoy doing with a little trash TV (actually laptop watching) in the background. I never watch reality TV but I find myself getting sucked into TLC’s Sister Wives. I have to admire a guy who can deal with having 4 hormonal wives.

In one episode, the wife who struggles most with weight loss, Janelle, was doing some cool exercises with her trainer. Kettlebells, rowing, sledgehammer swings, etc. and thankfully no cardio. I was impressed…until the next episode when she walks into the gym with her scale. Janelle states she’s working out 6 days a week for an hour a day with a trainer and counting her calories to stay in a range of 1500. In the first few months she lost 30 pounds and the last few months she’s stalled and doesn’t understand what’s going on. Okay, this is the part where I slap my hand to my forehead and think who the hell is this trainer and why is he damaging this woman??

First of all, I don’t know the whole story. What is her diet? Mostly on the show the food doesn’t seem optimally nutritious. But it’s TV and you don’t get a clear picture of their lives so I’m not going to pick her situation apart. It seems like they have a great deal of stress so I would imagine she has some major hormonal and cortisol imbalances.

My point in writing about this is that Janelle is an example of a large population of Americans struggling with obesity. I can’t begin to imagine how frustrating it is to workout 6 days a week, count calories, and see zero results. But I also can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to find out that there’s an easier way. Working out 6 days a week is a huge no no with elevated and imbalanced cortisol levels.

GET THE STRESS UNDER CONTROL FIRST!!! My friend Trey Potter wrote a great guest post about this. Your body doesn’t know the difference between the stress of getting in a fight with a loved one and the stress of heavy training. Even if it feels good in the moment, you will pay later. A Paleo diet is a great way to work on that excess weight while figuring out how to balance your life. Stress management is key. Things like sleeping, meditating, yoga, learning to live in the now and letting go of future worries are all important steps to weight loss goals. Once you’ve started to see changes in your body and you’re following those guidelines you can bump up the workouts. Although, I never ever recommend 6 workouts a week for any woman. Even the ultimate Crossfitter. I insist that my clients take their workouts down to 3 or 4 days a week while we’re figuring out their health concerns and working to improve them. Most of all, don’t get trapped into globo gym trainer mentality. They generally don’t have nutrition education outside of selling protein shakes. The more you’re in the gym working with them the more money they’re making so they don’t have your best interest at heart.

Strive for balance and healing instead of an image you’ve designed in your head of what you think you should look like. Love the body you have in all of it’s imperfections and the rest will fall into place.

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