Your Eating + Exercise Shouldn’t Make you Miserable.
Despite the fact that ALL change requires us to do some things we don’t necessarily want to do, at the end of the day, the way we eat and the way we move should not make us miserable.
Good movement and sound nutrition exist to improve our physical condition, expand our longevity, and enhance all aspects of our lives.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen countless people suffer through an exercise program they hate, coupled with diets that suck the joy out of life (“I can’t go out to eat with you, bestie, because there’s nothing on the menu that’s on my plan. See you in 12 weeks when I’m off the diet.”). I’m sure there will be many more to come, BUT, hopefully, it won’t be you! :)
It took me years to stop the yo-yo diet + exercising off “bad” foods mentality. It wasn’t until I got SO SICK of counting every morsel of food that passed my lips and researching, “how accurate are the calorie counters on machines?” that I started searching for a better way to achieve fat loss results. Because, seriously, THERE HAD TO BE. I didn’t want to be a slave to the treadmill and unseasoned chicken boobs. #CanASisterGetSomeSaucePlease?
Trial and error are the name of the game when it comes to finding ways to exercise that we enjoy, but, no matter the modality, when it comes to fat loss, intensity is the driver of results. What I mean by that is, while hours of steady-state cardio have their place (mood enhancement, heart health, better than doing nothing usually), we’d be better served from a fat loss perspective to adopt a weight training routine (which will increase our strength, balance, stability, and confidence, among other things) that leaves us breathless in a short amount of time.
40m or less of quick, high-intensity, weight-based workouts will preserve muscle without increasing our appetite extraordinarily in the long term (moderate intensity, long duration workouts will!). There’s a lot of hormonal info involved here, so comment below if you’d like the nitty gritty. Summary, though, is that body-changing hormones (insulin, cortisol, testosterone, and HGH) are released in response to exercise, and a higher intensity helps regulate the amounts of these hormones, leading to a balance that creates the look we want: smaller, leaner, tighter, stronger.
These types of workouts help regulate our hunger, energy, and cravings, making it easier for us to comply with better nutrition that matches our training rather than some arbitrary diet. We become more in tune with our bodies, so we aren’t adhering to a plan so much as replenishing our nutrient stores and serving ourselves.
Enter: metabolic conditioning. If you’re involved in the fitness blog world at all (you are, by virtue of receiving this newsletter. ;) ), you’ve probably come across the term “metcon”…short for metabolic conditioning. A metcon circuit is a series of compound movements done back to back with little to no rest in between. Each workout should last 20-40m (really!). There are TONS of super intricate circuits out there, if you Google, but the trick here is not to overcomplicate it. What we’re going for is quick, to the point, easy to transition between exercises, working our full body with multi-joint movements, ideally in multiple planes of motion.
Translation: don’t spend a lot of time doing it; rest when you need to, but not for very long; perform a wide variety of movements that use more than one part of your body at a time.
The key here is to push HARD, since it’s short duration (think, “you can do anything for 10s,” if you’ve seen The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). The way we know if we’re pushing hard enough is if our lungs and muscles are burning, we’re sweaty, and we’re using something that feels heavy. That’s pretty much the only vital criteria. Remember when I said don’t overcomplicate it?
I’ve attached 2 different (and pretty tough!) metcon circuits as examples. Do the warmup from this post, then proceed with either one of the following two workouts. The first comes from BJ Gaddour, a contributor to Men’s Health who was one of the first people I started following in my fitness career. I typically write my own little versions of torture (as in the second workout), but his was too good (and deceptively simple) to not pass along.
Let me know what you think!