I Like The Way You Move
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
We all know how important movement is for a healthy life, mind and body. We also know that not all movement is created equal, nor are our bodies.
The type of movement really depends not only on what you like, but what your body likes. Ever feel beat up and drained after a workout? That’s your body’s way of telling you this movement isn’t working.
Disclaimer: this post is not meant to tell you how to move. I’m simply sharing (you guys asked for it), what works for me and my body and how I slowly transitioned away from HIIT to low impact when I suspected my adrenals and thyroid needed some TLC.
Why I scaled back on high intense workouts:
First of all HIIT and spinning aren’t my favorite forms of exercise. I was an athlete growing up and most of my training was high intensity, but over time, I just started to dislike it. Secondly, I left feeling exhausted with depleted energy. I'd also find a couple hours later, I was reaching for sweets and coffee or BOTH!
Why? When we do really high intensity exercise or chronic cardio, our body releases sympathetic catecholamine hormones (cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine and aldosterone) in response to the stress. Remember that our body doesn’t differentiate physical stressors (sleep, infection, trauma and exercise) from psychological ones. This will set up for fatigue and imbalanced blood sugar when done too much.
Doing higher intensity workouts less than 3 times a week is classified as acute. If you’re doing intense workouts more than once a day and several days a week, and you find you’re gaining weight, feeling inflamed and your sleep is impaired, your stress hormones, specifically cortisol, are remaining elevated. If cortisol levels are chronically high, this can cause a host of serious health issues insulin resistance. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid – gluco: meaning glucose (sugar); and corticoid: meaning a steroid made from cholesterol. Cortisol functions to raise blood sugar to provide quick energy for necessary activities used to combat the stressor(s).
Over exercising (doing 2-3 workouts a day) also releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), a peptide hormone, that increases the permeability (think leaky gut) of the intestinal wall as well as the the wall of the lungs, skin, and blood-brain barrier.
My workout routine:
I like to mix it up with walking (I'm the self-proclaimed Forest Gump of walking), hot/mat pilates, hot yoga, barre, reformer, and Melissa Wood Health workouts. You’ll see that these are more on the low-impact side. For me, I feel my best when keeping it semi-low-impact, hot yoga and pilates definitely get my heart rate up, but I always leave feeling so good! I love to throw a HIIT workout in a few times a month and sync it with my cycle. I really just listen to my body. For my cardio, I love walking and swimming.
It's important to note that I love sports and to work out. I grew up an athlete playing ice hockey, soccer and softball. Sports, the gym and group fitness classes are not for everyone, and I totally get it! For my clients who fall into this category, I tell them to aim for 30 minutes of cardio/ lights weights right when they wake up. Maybe it's a 20 minute walk followed by 10 push-up. Maybe to start it's only walking and they work your way up to some at home workouts.
Working out should not feel like punishment (hello, more stress hormones!), it should feel like self-care. Find what works for you!
A typical day would look like this:
Warm lemon water
30 minute fasted walk with the pup
If I have time, coffee (I don’t always), if not, I’m off to a pilates or yoga class most days.
If it’s in the morning, it’s 9 times out of 10 it's a fasted workout. I try to limit my evening workouts in an effort to support my circadian rhythm.
Some days I will do both pilates and yoga. It really depends on a lot of factors: my sleep, blood sugar, and overall energy levels. I won’t do HIIT and another workout in the same day.
For those who wanted me to get super specific, here’s a general look of what my week workouts look like:
Monday: Hot pilates (60 mins)
Tuesday: Barre (50 mins) or Melissa Wood Health
Wednesday: Melissa Wood Health
Thursday: Mat pilates 30 min express
Friday: Hot pilates (60 mins)
Saturday: Hot Power Yoga (90 mins)
Sunday: Walking and Melissa Wood Health
If I’m really crunched on time, I’ll skip my normal 60 minute class and do an at home Melissa Wood Health Workout.
If you’ve been following me a while, you’re sick of hearing me say “my fasted morning workout,” ha!
Here’s why I’m so obsessed: Fasted workouts can increase human growth hormone, testosterone, and help burn fat and increase lean muscle. Going into a morning workout fasted can increase HGH, which will help preserve muscle tissue and cause lipolysis (fat breakdown). Pair a morning fasted workout with the right exercise for you to get the biggest changes in body composition.
If i have a workout at 11 or noon, I will not go in fasted unless I had a late night dinner and am still not hungry.
IMPORTANT: How you break your fast is so critical. Get in a mix of protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates (veggies, veggies, VEGGIES!). No time for veggies? Add in some plant fiber like chia or hemp seeds. Don’t skimp on amino acids - they lead to muscle growth and repair, but not too much as this will breakdown to blood sugar. Aim for 20-25g.
What about weight loss? Don’t I need HIIT and cardio?
Yes... I encourage clients to start with short intense (30 mins or less) can be great for inducing fat loss, increasing aerobic capacity, and reducing risk for cardiovascular disease, excessively intense exercise can cause a variety of health problems.
In fact, studies are showing a 30 minute HITT is more beneficial than a 60 minutes one!
"According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, 30 minutes of daily exercise is just as effective for losing weight as 60 minutes."
Diet is most important and always will be. You can have the most disciplined workout routine, but unless your diet is on point, weight loss will always be challenging and frankly exhausting. Healthy, sustainable weight loss occurs when we balance blood sugar and insulin through nutrient dense meals.
If you’re sleeping 8 hours, feeling balanced and overall good, by all means keep up with your HIIT workouts, but remember to rest. If you can, incorporate some low impact, too.
The key is to adjust your workouts. Mix it up. While high intensity exercise may be ideal for losing body fat and improving lean muscle mass, we know that high levels of cortisol can cause the body to hold onto fat.
Muscle mass dictates metabolism, it helps control blood sugar and working out the right way helps you deal with stress (happy endorphins!). Try and stay consistent to avoid the binge & cleanse cycles. When we workout, we sustain clean eating results and maintain progress.
If you're feeling warn out and tired, be mindful of the type of exercise you integrate into your daily routine. Limit high intensity training to 3x a week and try and keep them under 30 minutes.
A clean diet and proper movement is what keeps our body in homeostasis. Both are critically important