The Right Kind of Exercise
This has actually been the hardest section by far to write, because I know that you are probably going to be in a significantly different place than the next reader when it comes to exercise. You may have completely different goals, and I'm trying to address them in on one page.
So what we are going to do is split this up into groups and you will just read on the one that directly applies to you.
These programs all utilize my 2 Minute Reset, which is a series of stretching and short bursts of exercise throughout the day. When you do a 2 Minute Reset, you are going to follow this sequence.
1. Warm - gently warms the muscles and gets blood flowing with dynamic (moving) stretching
2. Work - increases blood flow to muscles and builds strength
3. Stretch - stretches out fascia that is now nicely warmed (fascia doesn't stretch until warm, which is why cold stretching doesn't really do much).
The best part is that I probably have been wherever you currently are with your fitness level.
I've been at the top of my game as a Pro Athlete, exercising for 3-4 hours a day.
I've spent years as an cardio junkie, only participating in things that made my heart rate high.
I've participated in intense formats like Cross-Fit, and lifted heavy crap.
I've also spent years with Chronic Fatigue, and couldn't clean my house for 10 minutes without feeling exhausted. I couldn't exercise at all.
I've spent years avoiding any long activity like hiking because it would take me out for days.
I've been so busy with my kids activities that I forget to make time for myself and exercise.
I've spent years dealing with my own constant injuries and got frustrated with training in general.
I have gotten bored with my exercise routines, and have had to redefine what I call exercise.
My 3 groups are going to be based on Goals
1. Fight Fatigue
2. Weight Loss
3. Feel out of Pain and Healthy
This group also needs a subgroup because there are different causes of fatigue. The first cause of fatigue is the overdoing it group, and the second we will call the can't even do it group.
If you are already freaking tired, then you probably aren't super excited about this part of the program. But I am here to tell you that this has to be part of the plan because reducing your activity level to nothing is definitely going to make you worse.
The fatigue that this group experiences comes from you overloading your system and not allowing for enough recovery in between. Usually you are pushing your body too hard- Either in everyday life or in exercise.
Pushing too hard with exercise on top of life stress was part of how I got myself in this mess, and now that I'm on the other side and have researched it more, I can see it happening to others. So many of us receive misinformation on what our body should be able to handle, and what type of exercise we should be doing daily.
The biggest thing to remember is this. For the average person who has an average amount of stress that their body is handling in an ok way, their body can recover from a strenuous workout in 36 hours. If you are here, your body is probably not one of these average people. Most people in developed countries cannot handle the 36 hours. Most people should participate in strenuous exercise no more than 2-3 times a week, with moderate exercise for 2 days, and easy for 1-2.
What constitutes strenuous exercise? You can measure this in 2 ways.
1. Your perceived exertion = How you feel
It is strenuous if you are breathing heavily, sweating quickly into the workout, and you can't say more than a few words before feeling out of breath.
2. Heart Rate
Measuring your Heart Rate is a great indicator of exertion and can help you to keep it all in the correct range.
If you have a heart rate monitor, here is how to determine your range from the Mayoclinic.
To use this method, you first have to figure out your maximum heart rate — the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.
The basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you're 45 years old, subtract 45 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 175. This is the maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute during exercise.
Once you know your maximum heart rate, you can calculate your desired target heart rate zone — the level at which your heart is being exercised and conditioned but not overworked.
The American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a general target heart rate of:
Moderate exercise intensity: 50 to about 70 percent of your maximum heart rate
Vigorous exercise intensity: 70 to about 85 percent of your maximum heart rate
What I see in overtrained individuals is that every workout pushes them into that high heart rate zone, or they go ahead and participate in vigorous exercise even when they don't feel recovered from or are sore from previous workouts. Over time this absolutely puts a strain on every system in the body (especially the nervous system), and that individual eventually goes from high function to a multitude of physical ailments.
What eventually happens is the nervous and adrenal systems spend time trying to warn you that they need more recovery time, and they put your body in a state of panic. For a short period during this time, you may feel like you have sooo much energy and might hit some Personal Bests in your fitness. your body is pumping out cortisol like there's no tomorrow because you are demanding it, and so you have a temporary boost of energy and recovery. However this is very short lived. Eventually your body starts to give up trying to alert you, so it starts to downgrade those systems we talked about. You feel fatigued constantly, you are frequently injured, you develop anxiety, your hormones are low, your thyroid has problems, you feel irritable and depressed, you gain weight, you get sick and have infections frequently, your hair falls out, your body starts to shake, you can't sleep, and more. This is a common problem for people who race Marathons and Ironmans frequently, people that do high intensity cardio everyday, and those who participate in high intensity programs like CrossFit.
So you have overdone it - Now what? Well it really depends at which stage you decided to jump ship. If you are currently fatigued and are still pushing everyday, I'll let you figure out what you should do at this point.
But the short answer is, you need to slow it down for at least a month - maybe longer. You are going to have to let your nervous system reset by doing an exercise that is different than the one that got you there. When I was consulting with national trainer Ben Greenfield when as was at my lowest, he had me ditch running for at least a month.
(I had to leave it longer, but this is important).
In general, keep the heart rate in the moderate to low stage
Avoid long cardio sessions (usually over 20-30 min)
Shoot for 1-2 slow strength sessions a week (if your body can handle this)
Incorporate stretching/ Yoga/ Walking
This general rule would be for the average overtrained individual. For more severe cases like mine, look below for a training guide to follow.
When you start to ramp up again, the more intense sessions should be once a week, and should be something comparable to running 10x 100 m intervals with walking/rest in between. It's important not to add on too fast, and to pay attention to how you are feeling. You have to gradually teach your body to accept this type of movement again.
You may not be able to exercise at the intensity you once did, but you have to decide if it's worth the strain on your body again. Many times after we've kind of overfilled our cup, our bodies won't ever be able to be how they were before. They will always be more sensitive and really susceptible to overtraining. Your body may overreact when pushed anaerobically by exhausting you for days. You might feel like you ran a marathon and take weeks to recover. I'm not saying coming back to high end training can't be done - It can. But I have yet to see a client not retain that sensitivity at the top end. They come back 90%, but have to maintain their bodies in such a way to prevent overtraining again that it can really overtake your life. You have to decide if that's how you want to live your life. Constantly exhausted is no way to live. If you are not a Pro Athlete training for the Olympics, it might be time to decide to focus on a different goal rather than performance that involves pushing it. You can still be in amazing physical shape and exercise, but maybe step back from the competitive ring.
This type of programming can be a little complex. If you want a step by step exercise calendar to recover from overtraining, you can find one here.
If ALL movement and exercise is fatiguing, and you have a hard time believing that you will ever be able to function again in society, this plan is for you. You are also my people, and the ones that I hope will have some faith or at least a little hope that this will work for you. That hope is important.
I figured out what helped on my own, and I feel like a I have a process that is unlike any other out there yet. This process works and I have gotten so much of my life back. Today I taught my zumba class, massaged for 4 hours, and am still here to tell about it. This is huge for me, and I want to help you get there.
What needs to happen here is we are going to convince your nervous system and your brain that there is nothing wrong with you. You need to understand that these messages of fatigue are false. You are not actually tired, your wiring is just messed up. So we are going to calm the messengers down, while we slowly train your body to move a little more. You might have days that you will backtrack and feel like you did too much, but as long as you understand that its a gradual uphill climb, than those days won't be quite so frustrating. Giving up on those days can physically make you backtrack, so remember to accept and wait til your are ready to move up again.
The MOST important part of this program is the Fascial Manipulation which can involve massage modalities that I will take about in the Fascia Section. This is THE part that most doctors, physical therapists, and researchers don't understand and leave out. When we give a movement based program without fascial manipulation to someone with Chronic Fatigue, we are basically just allowing their body to do more of the same. The nerves are still wired to overreact, and they do exactly that. A very small percentage of people recover with this type of therapy alone. It has to involve fascial massage.
2 other things to remember
1. Your level of exercise is going to be highly dependent on your starting point. The thing to remember is to never go past 80% of your energy stores, but also to not worry about it if you do. Research has shown that if you believe that movement is exhausting, then it definitely will be. I would recommend finding something that involves other people that forces you to focus on them rather than what you are doing.
2. Don't freak out if you are tired from exercise the next day. As long as you are working with your fascia, your nervous system will build up over time.
- If you are bedridden, exercise for you is going to look like rolling over, stretching, fascial manipulation and really light movement in bed.
- If you can move a little, exercise might be 1 set of push ups and squats as you fall into bed. This was where I started.
- If you currently do light exercise, then the fascia massage will make all the difference.
To access this exercise plan, click here.
If you are here, you probably have tried your last frustrating diet that didn't work, and are probably done with trying to figure your body out. The methods that you used to use may not be working because your body has changed and you don't know why.
As we grow older or go through stressful events, a few things happen that cause us to hold on to weight that was easier to shed when we were younger.
1. Your hormones change- Sex hormones slow down, and metabolism (or fat burning) decreases. Less testosterone = less muscle mass = less calories burned in a day.
2. Women have babies and it messes everything up. Literally. We do not realize how much pregnancy does to our bodies, and how our societal demands on new moms causes us to not recover. We feel this expectation to quickly bounce back with our weight and jobs, and it is harming our recovery. We as a society used to live by our parents and grandparents and would get help recovering from birth - Now we commonly live apart and tackle everything on our own. Again this affects our hormones, especially our stress hormone cortisol. When our cortisol is higher, our body holds on to fat because it's in an emergency mode. That's why people that are overtraining have a hard time losing any weight.
Pregnancy also drains the mommy of essential nutrients and she can become vitamin and mineral deficient. This alone can block weight loss. Add in lack of sleep, and it can take years to recover from one pregnancy. It can cause your body to produce much fewer digestive enzymes that are needed to break down food. The food isn't broken down well, nutrients aren't absorbed, and the problem becomes becomes compounded.
If you are a new mom, your focus should highly be on eating enough food to restore your energy and nutrient loss, and not on losing weight. Not restoring vitamins and minerals will be much more harmful on your body when it comes to long term weight loss.
3. We try too hard - In an effort to lose weight faster, we exercise 2x a day, or we eat only enough to survive (or both!). We push our body into stress mode again, which is not conducive to weight loss.
There is a sweet spot in between all of this, and we are going to find that for you. By addressing all of the stresses in previous chapters, we are going to position you to be in the exact right place.
Your exercise program can greatly vary, but the important thing to remember is that you absolutely cannot do too much if you want to lose weight. Remember the Biggest Loser. If you really have never watched this show, this group of people are made to go from no daily exercise to several hours (6-8 hours) of exercise a day! This is complete insanity and extreme stress on their bodies. Do you know what happens to these people after the cameras stop rolling. 90% of these people gain their weight back. The same thing happens to you when your body is overstressed with exercise.
For this program, we are going to take away the 2 x a day workout that you may be doing and replace the 2nd one with 2 minute resets. This is going to make lower your cortisol instead of raising it, and it's going to give you constant muscle burn, rather than another workout that you have to recover from. On top of that - ask your self if your current workout regimen is sustainable? Are you going to be able to workout like this all of your life? The answer is probably not. People tend to develop unhealthy attitudes towards exercise when it becomes too much of their life, and the need to exercise becomes too high on the priority list. (Hey I'm speaking from personal experience here)Then the next time something happens that makes it so you can't workout both times a day, you crash emotionally and physically. We are trying to create lifelong habits with this program, and 2- a-day workouts are just not sustainable.
On top of all this, we can't look at athletes that train 2 x a day as examples, because they typically have a whole slew of professionals helping them stay healthy. And nap time. Lots of naps. They typically sleep 10-12 hours between nighttime and naps to have enough time to recover from all that exercise! If you have that kind of time, than you are pretty unique.
4. We sit too much throughout the day. Part of the program for weight loss will involve more movement. This does NOT mean adding in more for those of you currently doing too much. But skinny people are typically active people, meaning, they don't sit for long periods of time. If this is something that you have a hard time with, the 2 minute resets that I will be giving you will be easy enough that you don't have to set aside a large portion of time. It isn't an all or nothing, and you can do it in your regular clothes for the most part at work, home, or wherever.
2 minute resets are going to keep your metabolism revved up as well as lower stress, and keep blood flowing to the rest of your body for muscle recovery. They are not intense enough to need to recover from them, so you can do more of them in a day.
5. We are constantly injured and it constantly sets us back. If you are dealing with a chronic injury, 1 of 2 things need to happen. 1. You need to find a good massage therapist or physical therapist that can actually help. 2. You need to be doing the 2 minute reset that applies to your injury, and being vigilant with the self care in the fascia chapter. 3. Recognize that stress can cause you to hold on to your injury, and be good about reducing it in your life with all the methods that we talk about.
Here's an optional weight loss workout plan for someone with average health. Ideally you get up and move around for 10-20 minutes in a fasting state (Before you consume any calories). We have the most energy to workout at around 4-5 pm but obviously you are going to workout when you can.
When your ultimate goal is better health, your exercise plan is going to look much different. Why? Because we need to change what we think exercise needs to look like. Coming back from severe Chronic Fatigue taught me that. Things that I never dreamed would feel like exercise suddenly became unbelievably exhausting. Cleaning, walking, and playing with my kids soon became my exercise for the day. Working in the garden, shopping, and even getting ready for vacation could wipe me out. This showed me that anything can be exercise.
Anytime you are not sitting, you are moving in the right direction. Staying active during the day is amazing for our health, and doesn't have to involve hours of exercise. If you are tired of feeling like crap, your exercise plan is going to involve a couple of days of short strength training, and a couple of days of cardio (which can be walking). The biggest thing is you need to implement is the 2 minute resets throughout the day.
2 minute resets for you are going to keep your blood flowing to the rest of your body, lower stress, move metabolic waste out of your system, and help with digestion and liver and kidney function. They are also going to help stretch out the fascia which is vital for good health.
We are exercising to feel better, not to be completely wrecked and unable to participate in life.
Your plan involves the following
1-2 strength training days in a week
1-2 vigorous exercise days
2-3 easy to moderate exercise days
Check here for your exercise plan.