23 Nov BLOG: Exercise like a girl
Women across the globe are moving like men… Ladies, we have been fooled into thinking that our bodies are able to follow the mainstream recommendations in magazines, studies and personal training programs and popular training fads. Sorry to burst your burpee loving bubble, but most fitness recommendations come from studies run on men (full of testosterone and minimal estrogen!) or a small group of women with controlled (much flatter) hormone levels. As a result, women are fooled into thinking training hard most days, running long distances, attending one (or sometimes two) high intensity classes a day and/or lifting ridiculously heavy weights is the way to go, Their nervous systems are taxed as they push their body past their limits, work stressful jobs, likely under-eat or binge eat, chase their dreams, raise families – the list goes on!
When exhausted, burnt out women come into my office, I am noticing is that often they are overtraining AND under-recovering (a ticking time bomb). The problem here is that our bodies are not designed for all this hard work. Sure, they are most capable of training hard, but the key here is to do so when we have the energy, capability and nutrition to support. We have fallen victim to the collective belief that women should push harder and do intensive workouts every day. As we blindly pursue the “perfect body” or fitness goal, we experience a number of symptoms we either regard as “normal” or have become conditioned to. The most serious side-effects of overtraining are metabolic dysfunction and hormone imbalance.
Our cycle and hormones dictate our energy levels and vice versa. If we ignore our body when it tells us we are tired or push too hard, we “borrow” from elsewhere. When we borrow, our body robs from our adrenal glands, which can lead to a hormone imbalance. Here, we face an excess of cortisol (stress hormone) which can lead to an influx of estrogen in the body and/or not enough progesterone (sex hormones). This impacts upon how we feel, act and think, our ability to cycle effectively or (like what happened to me) challenges our ability to have children. Alongside disruptions to our sex hormones, excess cortisol release negatively interacts with our thyroid function. Our thyroid is vital as it controls many of the body’s metabolic processes, such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.
Yikes! Could this be you?!?!
Signs you could be pushing your body too far and experiencing hormone imbalance or metabolic dysfunction:
Any of the above symptoms could be a sign that our hormones are either elevated, decreased or fluctuating. The below table sums up just a few examples of what could be going on in your body.
*There are of course other explanations for any of these symptoms and even without over-exercising, you can experience a hormone imbalance or metabolic dysfunction.
Test, don’t guess!
There is a large group of women who come to me for coaching who are simply pushing themselves too hard in exercise and life in general. These are the women who feel like they are getting nowhere. If anything, they are slipping backwards. They cut calories to lose weight and within weeks of maybe losing some weight the weight creeps back on. Or, they just can’t lose a kilo… This is why it is important for clients to engage in blood testing to TEST and NOT GUESS approach. My nutritionist partnered program includes recommendations based on personal blood work – learn more here
So, how do we move our bodies and train like a girl? We don’t wrap ourselves in cotton wool. We can do it in mostly the same way we do it now, but with a few tweaks. I encourage all my clients to think about what makes sense when it comes to exercising.
I ask them to consider how we as women can move in ways that:
- Makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint (mimic how human WOMEN are designed to move – we walked/hiked a lot, climbed, used own body strength and OCCASIONALLY exerted ourselves using strength and speed)
- Are supportive of our FEMALE hormones (knowing your cycle and taking advantage of when our energy levels and metabolism are naturally high and when our bodies are designed to rest or take it easy)
- Are complemented by other daily practices (good nutrition, adequate sleep, supportive rest and recovery, stress management etc)
My next blog post will go into more detail on the above principles and how to put the above into practice – stay tuned.
If you are someone who is likely overtraining and/or under-recovering and is experiencing one or more warning signs/symptoms, you can adjust the way you train to accommodate doing what you love while feeling your best. It may help to begin to become more self-aware of how you are feeling and link this to how you are moving. Is what you are doing ACTUALLY working for you and your body? Then, perhaps reflect on why it is that you flog yourself at the gym, train multiple times a day or for long periods or distances…Is it because you think you have to, read the wrong information or is it something bigger than that?
To find out if you have a hormonal or metabolic imbalance or to create an exercise routine that supports the life you live, reach out to me today. Solaine Douglas Nutrition and I support you to learn the right information and embed daily habits and practices that are more conducive to your amazing female body. Here, we provide the testing, knowledge and skills to help you start feeling better in as little as a few weeks. Visit my services page to learn more and apply for your place today.
*Many of the opinions expressed in this blog post are that of a health coach who is a mentor and guide, trained in holistic health coaching to help clients reach their own health goals by helping them to devise and implement positive, sustainable lifestyle changes. If the reader is under the care of a healthcare professional or currently uses prescription medications, they should discuss any dietary changes or potential dietary supplements use with his or her doctor, and should not discontinue any prescription medications without first consulting his or her doctor. This information received should not be seen as medical or nursing advice and is not meant to take the place of seeing licensed health professionals