Can taking your high-intensity workout down a notch be the secret to lasting weight loss?
I recently read an article about Amanda Chantal Bacon, creator of Moon Juice and a self-professed wellness advocate and guru. Despite doing intense cardio workouts 3-5 times per week, cutting grains and carbs from her diet she stopped seeing the weight loss results she desired. So she consulted her doctor and was told that her cortisol levels were at an all time high. At the advice of her doctor, she changed her workout regimen. She dropped her intense workouts to 2-3 times per week and alternated each of those classes with yoga and pilates and other restorative type classes (yin, meditation classes). She dropped 15 pounds within two weeks. She was astounded by the change in her outlook, her body, her overall health. She felt “energetically” more feminine and less stressed and depleted. She also experienced less inflammation.
The hormone cortisol performs many functions from mobilizing energy in the body in the short term to regulating metabolism, blood sugar and blood pressure as well as suppressing inflammation. However, when cortisol levels are chronically high levels from too-intense workouts, that’s when problems occur. Problems like inflammation, fat retention (particularly belly fat); it can send everything from your mood to your immune system out of whack. Amanda’s gynecologist (whom she consulted) also found in her own personal workout that despite running 3-4 times per week, she was cranky, experienced intense PMS and felt stressed all the time. Turns out her cortisol levels were three times what they should be. Studies have shown that in women ages 35-50, cortisol levels should be between 10-15 micrograms per deciliter. She changed her approach and now recommends to all of her patients to shift from high-intensity workouts to “adaptive” exercise programs. Programs like Yoga, Pilates, HIIT (using tabata and other timing methods that build in rest periods during intensive activities).
The “adaptive” model builds strength and cardio while preventing sustained levels of cortisol, thus creating a balance in the endocrine system and, therefore, metabolism. Basically, this allows us to derive the fullest benefit of our time and energy which allows us to move through life with strength, grace and vitality.
Reading this data really put into perspective all of my years in fitness. The trends, the data that has been misleading and harmful, the failures, successes. The newest research shows that balance is key. It is the SoVital way. Our philosophy has always been to combine the four disciplines of Yoga, Pilates, Cardio and Meditation in to a weekly routine that balances mind, body, spirit and heart.
Continue to mix it up, try 2-3 cardio per week while balancing with yoga and pilates and a mindfulness classes and let us know what is working best for you. Give us feedback; leave your stories and comments on the SoVital Facebook Community page. We’d love to hear about your journey.