I have a good friend who recently started working out regularly. She wants to lose a few pounds, and is working out three days a week for about 45 minutes. She's not seeing any results, and asked me for advice. I immediately told her that maybe she needs to work out more--more often, and longer. But then I started thinking--more about my own situation than hers--is it possible that less is actually sometimes more?
After the birth of my first baby, I worked out consistently, but probably nearly not as much as I do now. I changed my eating habits (tried the South Beach Diet for a few weeks--HATED it, but lost all the baby weight), and continued working out REGULARLY.
After the birth of my second baby, however, I couldn't wait to start working out. The overtraining probably happened during my pregnancy, and I was working out (intensely) anywhere from an hour to an hour-and-a-half six days a week. Soon after my baby was born, I went right back on that schedule. And guess what...I NEVER lost all of the weight before getting pregnant again. It's possible that I had more muscle, but I actually think I was just overtraining. Looking back, I should have probably cut back on the intense workout sessions, really focused on clean eating, and would've had better results.
I hate to say it, but my heart rate monitor is partly to blame. I'm a number gal, and I couldn't stand the thought of seeing my total calorie burn for the week anywhere under 3,000.
I'm completely guilty of the American mentality that if a little bit is good, then a lot must be better! I made a horrible garlic pasta when I was first married. If the recipe calls for 3 garlic gloves than 7 would make it even better, right? Luckily I married well, and my husband and I laughed for days. Another example--if you're supposed to apply sunless tanner once a day, then wouldn't twice a day work even better? I've been beautifully orange more times than I'd like to admit!
I have the same problem when it comes to working out...if I didn't have little rugrats keeping me grounded, it actually sounds fun to me to spend countless hours at the gym. But I would definitely be overtraining, and would probably look no different than I do now (pre-pregnant now, that is).
Overtraining can be especially harmful if you ARE following a diet plan. Over-exercising and restrictive eating will cause your body to hang on to any available fat for fear of never getting any more!
So what's my point? Listen to your body! Are you logging countless hours on the treadmill without seeing results? Are you losing muscle? Are you completely exhausted? As strange as it sounds, for some of us, working out a little less could actually be the answer!
So come July when I'm waking up at 4 am after a sleepless night just to fit in a super long workout before my husband goes to work, remind me...LESS IS MORE! I'll definitely be experimenting and tweaking my life with the birth of #3. As always, I'm open to suggestions!
Can any of you relate? Do you overtrain? Do you undertrain? Do you wonder why you work out so much without ever seeing results?