How Exercise Can Cause You To Gain Weight

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Are you exercising too much?

Being in the health and wellness world for over 17 years, I have seen my fair share of exercise advice — push harder, do this new program, slow it down, lift heavier — the advice goes on and on.

Yet, proposing the question of how much is too much is rarely asked or even encouraged. It seems that the fitness industry often speaks to and caters those that are in need of that extra push. That extra encouragement. That little kick you might need to move your body and better your physical health.

But what about those fitness enthusiasts that are regularly pushing themselves? Or, those in love with high intensity competition? What about those who are already living stressful lives and want to incorporate the right kind of exercise?

They are a special breed when it comes to exercise, at least exercising the right way for the best results.

It is common knowledge that exercise is one of the healthiest forms of self-care that we can indulge in. Strength training helps to build muscle and cardiovascular exercise helps to keep your heart healthy. But, if you do too much of either of these, a normally healthy habit can begin to break the body down and, inversely, cause you to be weak and overly stressed. It doesn’t stop there…

If you live a lifestyle that is high in stress, this is going to compound and add to the extra stress placed on your body from regular intense exercise. It doesn’t matter if your stress is related to  work, family, mental health, or emotional turmoil — it all equates to extra stress in the body.

How do you know if the exercise you are doing is placing too much extra stress on your body? It is not always so easy to spot, but there are a few signs that do begin to present. When your body can no longer take the over-exercising, signs of overtraining typically creep in. Overtraining can signal the body to start burning muscle for fuel and store more fat, resulting in some weight gain.

Overtraining shows up as —

  • Persistent muscle soreness
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Increased incidence of injuries
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Loss of motivation
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Muscle loss
  • Increased weakness

Probably not what you are hoping for with your exercise plan!

How Over-Exercising Impacts The Body

Over-exercising places excessive stress on the body. With this onset, your hormone levels begin to change — especially testosterone and cortisol (yes, women have testosterone too!).

Testosterone is important to help build lean muscle, increase bone density, and keep your heart and blood healthy. Having healthy, balanced, levels of testosterone are super important for gaining the results you want in your workouts. When excessive stress is placed on the body, cortisol levels increase and steal from your testosterone, throwing off your healthy hormonal ratios.

With the body’s delicate hormonal balance upset, it begins to signal to the body to burn muscle instead of fat. As a result, you may notice that the lifting of your usual amount of weights, running your usual distances, and performing the same type of exercises may be much more difficult than easy.

If cortisol levels rise too high and stay elevated for too long, the adrenal glands may become imbalanced and cortisol levels drop below normal. This is when weight gain occurs.

Your body has an amazing capacity to adapt, which is what makes your body so resilient.  If you keep demanding too much from your body, without the necessary rest and recovery, it will start to compromise and compensate in an effort to keep functioning.  Your stubborn body fat —especially belly fat — is just one of the ways in which your body compensates when exposed to too many stressors.

What You Can Do

Here is where I want to emphasis the importance of looking at the stress in your everyday life. Not every day will be stress-free — every day shouldn’t be — but it is about the flow of how stress enters, exits, and dances around the moments in your day. When you step back and look at the big picture, this will help guide you in the right kind of and right amount of exercise for you and your lifestyle in this moment of your life.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), how much stress do I realistically have at work, at home, and in my personal life? List out the stressors if this helps you see the big picture more clearly.
  • How am I feeling right now (i.e., tired, sore, heavy, sad, stressed, light, happy, so-so)?
  • Would pushing harder make me feel better or worse? Would slowing down make me feel better or worse?
  • Can I give my body what it really needs?

You may be quite surprised to find out how much stress you unknowingly deal with on a daily basis. When you can honestly say how much “daily stress” you are experiencing, then you can step back and look at your exercise regimen. If your “daily stress” is high, then it might be counterintuitive to hop on the elliptical trainer for an hour. It is common that people who lead a more stressful lifestyle tend to gravitate towards longer cardio as a way to deal with stress — the inner push is already in their nature. Instead, try yoga or a stretching class to emphasis stress-relieving and add gentle movement that your body is craving.

If this sounds like you and you believe you are over-exercising, here are some places you could begin:

  1. Add in more energy balancing practices. Perform low to moderate amounts of exercise and save some time to do daily stress relieving practices, such as meditation, visualization, deep breathing, and journaling. You could even sign up for a Reiki session or other energy work to help you get realigned. This allows your adrenal gland hormones to begin balancing and it helps to stabilize your blood sugar, both important for properly functioning adrenals.
  2. Stop doing long cardio sessions. If you’re doing long cardio workouts, you’re only adding to the problem.  Long cardio eats away at your lean muscle mass which is essential for increasing your metabolism to burn more calories.  And it dramatically increases your appetite making you more susceptible to unnecessary snacking and over eating. Not to mention that it can create imbalance in your blood sugar, opening you up to more food cravings and inflammation in the body. Instead of long cardio, try doing short, high intensity workouts (i.e., HIIT programs).  These workouts are much more effective at promoting fat burning hormones that target your stubborn fat. It is important to mention that if you are already dealing with more severe over-training symptoms or adrenal issues, high intensity workouts may still be too aggressive for you at this time.
  3. Change the way you lift weights. Lift heavier weights at lower repetitions instead of lower weights for higher repetitions. Lifting heavier weights has been linked to increasing testosterone levels, therefore, helping to keep the hormone balance more, well, balanced. It will also help to increase lean muscle mass and increase your overall metabolism.
  4. Make sure that you are getting adequate rest. Recovery and rest are often more important than exercising.  If you’re feeling sluggish or drained of energy, do an active recovery such as an easy walk, hike, or a leisurely bike ride. If you’re really tired, take the day off! It’s during periods of rest that your body does most of the fat burning, so don’t short change yourself.  Proper rest and recovery means you’re enabling your body to burn more fat.
  5. Feed your body (the right way). The foods we eat can place large amounts of stress on the body. A diet full of sugar, processed carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats can place a significant amount of stress on the body and increase systemic inflammation in the body. Eat a well-balanced nutrition plan of whole foods that contain plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, high quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, and a few fruits. Plenty of vegetables and colorful fruits are also high in anti-oxidants (which helps to fight the negative effects of stress on the body)! Limit your alcohol and sugar because as the body become stressed, you crave both of these more!

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8 Tips To Stay Committed To Your Goals

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Setting the goals has never been the problem. It is easy to think about what we want and write it down on a piece of paper. 

The real challenge comes with staying committed to a goal. When life gets in the way or old thought patterns creep in, it is easy to fall off and let go of what you were once so excited about accomplishing.

A big misconception — one that I find might trip you up the most — is believing that it is all about inner motivation and willpower to get you through. Those might work for the short term and when the going is easy, but when life throws an obstacle or the sweetness of that goal isn’t so sweet, inner motivation and willpower lose their muscle strength. 

Creating real consistency and commitment goes much deeper — I mean to the depths of your soul deep. And if those uncharted territories are not ready (and willing) for the challenge, then you might just find yourself asking once again, “What went wrong.”

Or maybe you tell yourself that you are not strong enough, good enough, capable enough, worthy enough to have what you really want. The cycle begins…

Staying committed to what you say you are going to do way longer than the excitement lasts comes down to a simple concept that is the foundation of all the tips I have for you today. 

This simple concept is so simple indeed, yet it can be one of the most challenging concepts you step into — if you don’t know how to navigate it, that is.

Brain rewiring.

What is brain rewiring? The brain is made up of neural pathways that connect and bind to each other. As you begin to perform a behavior or a skill or are learning something new, those neural pathways begin to deepen. And as they deepen, they also connect to each other, creating a network of communication. This is how habits, ways of being, and belief systems are formed. Essentially, rewiring the brain is when the connections between neurons in your brain are changing. To create lasting change in anything that you do, a level of brain rewiring is necessary to occur. This could be something as simple as daily affirmations done the right way or changing the circle of friends that you spend most of your time with. Or, this could go much deeper into working through inner child trauma and shadow work. 

Staying committed to a new habit or goal requires brain rewiring and changing up the status quo. 

Regardless of where you need to start, the best thing to do is just start. Taking any step of action creates forward momentum, allowing you to begin believing in yourself and that you have the power to create change. And just the belief in yourself that you are creating is a powerful form of brain rewiring. 

You have all that power within you!

8 Tips To Help You Rewire Your Brain

  1. Start (or end) your day with visualizations. The first 20 minutes after waking up and those moments right before you fall asleep are some of the most powerful times to create change. At these two points, your brain is in a Theta brain wave state, the time that is best to connect into your subconscious and really crack into those deeply stored (and often forgotten) beliefs and stories that you have been gathering over the years. These are part of what creates who we are and how we behave. They are also part of what can hold us back and create a disconnect to staying committed to what we say we want to do. For example, if you really want to stay committed to a workout program, but you have the deep belief that taking time for yourself is selfish or it takes time away from your family, then you may struggle with staying committed to that hour of workout time that you promised you were going to do to help you in your healthy goals. Start with 5-10 minutes of quiet time, away from any distractions, and begin visualizing what you want, how you want to look doing it, how you want to feel while doing it, how you want to feel afterwards, and that you are capable of being successful at it. Do this everyday until you start seeing some shifts in your commitment level and your inner motivation.
  2. Positive affirmations spoken daily. When you give yourself  the gift of support and become your inner cheerleader, something incredible starts to happen — you begin to believe and act in ways that align to what you are telling yourself. The key with affirmations actually working is that they have to be statements that excite you, spoken with excitement and belief that it is possible, and spoken regularly. Create an affirmation statement that really pumps you up and is exciting. For example:  “Abundance and love come to me so easily and effortlessly. It is so awesome that I am working out 3 days a week and living in a strong, healthy body. I am confident, vibrant, and full of abundance. Can you believe how easily the weight just melts off of me? I am strong and powerful and full of energy. I can do anything I put my heart and mind into!” Say your affirmation statement out loud at least 10x a day. You can even record it and play it back to yourself throughout your day so that you constantly are hearing your words of empowerment.
  3. Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Surrounding yourself with other like-minded folks gives you an energy boost. When your energy is elevated, so is your motivation and inner confidence. Creating that support team is critical for brain rewiring. Sometimes the most positive and supportive people are not the closest people in our vicinity. We can not pick the family that we are born into and we can not control all the negativity that may surround you at work, but you can seek out positive reinforcement. Google search or check out your local newspaper for activities or groups that may share the same interests as you and/or are looking to create change in their own lives. When you have that support from like-minded people, you are going to be more likely to stay committed to your own goals.
  4. Journal goals and track progress. Writing down your goals solidifies them into your reality. Getting them out of your head and onto paper makes them real and workable. But, it doesn’t stop here. Tracking your goals is an important part of the  process. Like driving to a far away destination, you can not get there without a road map and without tracking where you are along that road map. Start by writing one or two goals (i.e., ” I want to lose 20 lbs) and then brainstorming on how to do that and what your timeline looks like. As you progress, regularly track your progress and see what is working and what is not. It is a great way to keep you visually motivated and remind how awesome you are doing. It is also a way to visualize what you want to see happen and how you can make that happen. 
  5. Limit time around those that bring you down.  Those that bring you down can literally suck the energy out of you. They can create an energy shift within yourself that decreases motivation. Even worse, they can continually feed you thoughts that keep you stuck in old, unproductive patterns and habits. This deepens the neural pathways and brain rewiring that you are trying to change. This could be your family, friends, coworkers, or people where you hang out. It could even be your spouse. It may not always be feasible to completely sever ties, but you still can take action. Limit your time as much as possible and, when that seems impossible, arm yourself with other tactics that preserve your energy and new thought patterns to get you through the interaction.
  6. Break down goals into small daily obtainable action steps. When creating habit change, it can feel daunting and overwhelming. Especially the deeper brain rewiring work it is that you have to do. Overwhelm causes stress, irrational thinking, and thoughts that you are not capable of reaching your goal. To rewire your brain, small action steps can set you up for success and belief in yourself. If you have a goal to lose 20 lbs in 3 months, start by breaking that down into monthly goals (i.e., 7 lbs or so per month), then into weekly goals (i.e., 4-5 days of exercise), then into daily goals (i.e., eat 2 extra servings of vegetables each day). 
  7. Create a vision board. Humans are visual creators. Vision boards are enhancing that visual need to help you focus on exactly what you are working to obtain. You can do a life vision board and put on stimulating and colorful pictures of what you would like to achieve in this life and/or you can do a specific vision board for a certain area of your life. For example, if you are looking to feel more energy and vitality, your vision board could revolve around your nutrition plans, exercise programs you want to try, how you want to look, what kind of clothing you want to buy, how your feel inside, and what your spirituality looks like – all the little things that will fulfill what having “more energy and vitality” means to you. Where does the brain rewiring come in to effect? Everyday, take a few moments to look at your vision board and picture yourself doing or being that person — What does it look like? What does it feel like? What would it mean for you? — Get excited about it coming. Day by day, you are rewiring and becoming exactly that person!
  8. Learn self-love and acceptance of yourself.  This is really what it all comes down to. When you do not believe in yourself and accept who you truly are – the unique and empowered you – it becomes almost impossible to make healthy, permanent change. Looking outside of yourself for validation and acceptance will never truly allow yourself long-term commitment to your goals. Start by focusing on what is inside you. What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses? What are your fears and what is holding you back? How do you support yourself and how do you self-sabotage? What blocks your flow and your energy? All of these are keys to working through so you can get to know, accept, and trust yourself and your intuition. This is where the deeper work comes in — the shadow work, the inner child healing, the trauma repair. To get started, you could journal on inner child work, talk to trusted friends for support and advice, go to a counselor, meditate, learn how to be mindful and grounded, or search out knowledge to help you grow and learn as a person. The process is really your creation and you can go how fast or slow you feel that you need. 

Rewiring your brain is the foundation of any goal commitment. Especially the more challenging ones! Start the process. You can choose one or many from the list above or you can use this as inspiration to explore other avenues that resonate and excite you. Just remember — you have all the power lying within you!

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Do these 7 Simple Steps to (Actually) Stick To Your Goals

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Ahhhh, setting goals…

Excitement fills you as you put pen to paper and dream of plentiful visions dancing in your head. Seriously, this time, you are sticking with your goals!

You set off excitedly proclaiming, “Monday, I am starting.” You have a twinkle in your eye, a fire in your heart, and a perfect plan percolating like the morning coffee that is going to fuel your start. Nothing is going to stop you this time.

Nothing!

You believe yourself fully and completely.

Monday comes and is filled with firey awesomeness. You get out of bed and you are excited to get started. Day 1? DONE! You feel like Super Woman.

Tuesday rolls in with motivation and heart. That [meditation, workout, healthy breakfast, etc] feels needed and refreshing. Day 2? DONE!

As Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday begin, you notice that something happens. 

Life.

Life happens.

You may stick with your plan, but that raging fire within begins to die down. **Is it the weekend yet?

Last minute errands to run and looming work deadlines consume your days (and your focus).  **And, why did little Johnny wait until 10 pm to tell me that he needed 3 dozen cookies for school tomorrow?!

In 4 weeks, that raging fire turns to a mere smoldering ash of broken self-commitments and long lost dreams.

Life happens and it can happen in a serious way. But, life happens to everyone. How is it possible that some rise from the ashes like a phoenix, pushing through and still having copious amounts of day end energy? Yet others struggle with getting lost in life’s chaos and never really accomplishing their deepest dreams.

The first step before any of the sticky goal steps is that you have to create a plan — write it down and refer to it often. Make it as easy and detailed of a plan as possible so that it feels like a walk in the park to implement and it feels super doable!

After the actual creation of the goals, there are a few key concepts to keep in mind to help you stay engaged with those goals. Here are 7 steps essential for being a master of your domain and making your goals stick-able:

Step 1

Know your core values. Core values are those non-negotiables. Those parts of life that fire you up and that bring you joy and happiness. When you know your core values and you can create dreams that revolve around them, life is honey-sweet and your dreams become sticky. Create a list of 3-5 core values and see how you can set visions to enhance each of them. For example, one of my core values is adventure and travel, making skydiving a perfect goal. When you learn to live in your core values, you feel less depleted and stressed and you are more likely to be motivated to stay on your goal bandwagon for a longer ride.

Step 2

Create a ritual. Some call it a routine, but routines can be seriously boring. You need a ritual for excellence, something you do everyday that gets you one step closer to your end goal. A ritual not only respects you, but it also takes out the guess work of when you are going to get stuff done. Want to eat healthier? Pack your lunch at night with focus on what you need to eat to honor your body the next day. Need to fizzle out some of your daily stress? Start your morning off with a refreshing walk outside. Which then leads into…

Step 3

Know your boundaries (and use them). Most of us think we set boundaries, but really most of us live in a low boundary world. Knowing your core values and setting your rituals are events to help you stay on track, but if something continuously pulls you from them, then they don’t do much for you. Life happens and schedules change. That’s inevitable, but that is not constant, unless you allow it to be. Stating and enforcing clear boundaries to keep you on track is key. For example, if you want to read more before bedtime, then an appropriate boundary might be to turn off your phone, text messages, or incoming updates and let everyone you know that you will not respond after a certain time at night. Honor yourself and your needs and watch your dreams flourish.

Step 4

Talk to yourself. Positive mantras are super powerful! They can shift your mindset instantly, bring more focus and clarity, and silence that little inner voice that speaks from emotion rather than rational thinking. And they can help keep you on track. For example, “My willpower is strong” and “I take care of myself and I am worth it.” Create a positive mantra paragraph of 3-5 sentences and repeat that, out loud, 10 times daily.

Step 5

Pull the trigger word. Trigger words are a fun little tool to help reign your runaway thoughts in and recenter your focus. They also get your mindset re-centered around success and possibility becoming reality. If your goal is to workout 3 mornings a week before work, a trigger word example could be “Dedicated.” It’s purpose is to reignite the fire when it isn’t burning so bright. Incredibly simple and incredibly effective! Remember, you have to recite your trigger word and say it with passion for trigger words to be effective.

Step 6

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Go! The mind can play all kinds of crazy little tricks on you when you are trying to change habits. Sometimes you need a simple mental interruption to take your focus away from fear or negative thoughts. This simple tip of counting from 5 to 1 and then saying GO! (or replacing GO with your trigger word) is a mental interruption that is just enough time to allow action to replace fear. Next time you have to make a decision or push through to stick with your dream, try this tip and then, like Nike says, just do it!

Step 7 

Reevaluate. Sometimes you just got to step away and reevaluate if what you are working on is working for you. It’s easy to stick with something that you think you really wanted to do (or what someone else wants for you), just to discover that it just doesn’t motivate you anymore.  Or maybe it never did. And that is ok! What is important is that you are spending your life working towards what feels fulfilling and exciting and pushing you towards your higher purpose. What serves you. So, reevaluate regularly and stay motivated by giving yourself permission to push yourself when you really want to and walk away when it no longer serves you.

What are you currently working towards? I would love to know! Leave a comment below and tell me what goal you are working on and/or which step above is your favorite.

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20 Ways To Feel More Grateful And Happy

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Being grateful has changed my life.

It has changed my soul.

It has changed my ways of being and has opened me up to more love, better relationships, and caring for the things and people that are most important to me.

To truly start to live a life of more joy and happiness, you have to change your inner being— your emotions and ways of thinking that govern how you will respond and react in your everyday life. And this is all about influencing your energy.

What Is Energy?

Energy is everything — literally everything. Whether it be a human, plant, chair, or thought, everything in our existence is part of an interconnected web of electromagnetic vibrational frequencies. Some people refer to this as a “life force” or a “soul.” 

And because of energy, you vibrate. These vibrations are the oscillating and vibrating movement of atoms and particles that you are made up. Even solid objects like tables are actually made up of microscopic vibrating atoms that receive, store, and emit energy. Pretty cool, huh?

Because of this, all humans and objects have an energy field that has its own vibrational frequency, or how fast those atoms and particles are oscillating and vibrating. This is measured in hertz (Hz) units. If an atom is vibrating at a faster rate, it would be considered higher frequency. One that vibrates slower is considered lower frequency. Understanding the difference is important to understanding how they interact and how that affects your health. 

According to work done by Bruce Tainio, a normal healthy body resonates at a natural frequency of 62-75 MHz. When your frequency drops to 58 MHz the disease process has more ability to take hold. The higher frequency we can get, the better.

The foods you eat, the stressors on your body, emotions you feel, the people you surround yourself with — they all affect you. To stay healthy and disease free, you want to keep vibrating at a higher frequency. And that means engaging in activities and behaviors that are of the highest vibrations to help offset the stress that inevitably comes in from your surrounding environment. 

Being grateful falls on the same level as love — it is one of the highest vibrational frequencies. Gratitude vibrates at 540 MHz. The more time you can spend in gratitude, and love, the more your body’s frequency raises and the healthier your body becomes (not to mention that you have more energy, happiness, and fulfillment).

Along with a gratitude practice, here are a few other practices you can do to start raising your frequency:

  • Cutting out toxic people and situations in your life
  • Eating whole, organic foods
  • Using healing essential oils
  • Crystal healing therapy
  • Energy healing sessions (i.e., reiki)

But if you just want to practice more gratitude, here are 20 ways to get started!

20 Ways To Practice More Gratitude

  1. Help someone in need
  2. Create a gratitude board
  3. Journal your gratitude
  4. Read books on being more grateful
  5. Place a gratitude-provoking card in plain sight so you see it everyday
  6. Pick an inspiring object and keep it near you at all times to remind you to be more grateful
  7. Find the value, meaning, and purpose in ALL outcomes
  8. Thank your body for all it’s hard work with a hot bath or a massage
  9. Send notes, cards, and letters of gratitude
  10. Appreciate your body by dancing and moving to music or whatever makes you happy
  11. Give a gift just because
  12. Say thanks with a random act of kindness
  13. Before bed, give gratitude by saying one thing you were grateful for that day
  14. Send a prayer of thanks to people who inspire you
  15. Give gratitude and thanks for your meal
  16. Make a gratitude garland, tree, or jar
  17. Say and write gratitude affirmations daily
  18. Acknowledge and give thanks for how amazing you are
  19. Start each day with a prayer of thanks
  20. Pick one thing you are grateful for and 5 reasons why

I was serious that gratitude saved my soul. My body’s strength has increased. My skin is softer and my skin’s glow is brighter. I don’t have as many sugar cravings. My stress levels are more manageable. I have more consistent energy and drive. My moods are more stable.

But the best result of all?  I just feel a deeper sense of real happiness.

And I am so grateful for that!

Want more?

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I love inspiration through story-telling! If you liked this article, then you will love my other blogs.

Click here to get my Free 10-day body reset detox guide. You will become part of my tribe and get weekly blogs delivered straight to your inbox (along with a free gift and other insider tips that only my tribe will get)!