I have recently seen a nutritionist.
When she asked what made me reach out, I didn’t really know how to answer her.
I don’t have any medical concerns, digestive issues or food intolerances. I’ve not had any big issues with weight management. I know what is good for me and what isn’t.
But the truth is, I can feel a shift.
I will be 40 at the end of the year, and I’m not sure if it’s a shift I can feel physically, or it’s something I’m expecting because of what I know to be true, but I can sense my body changing. And I felt like I needed support in optimising my health as I come into my 40s, but also just a bit of accountability! (Yep, we ALL need it sometimes!)
We discussed the effect hormones can have on our ability to maintain our weight and it made me think about ALL of the women I have seen over the years who have struggled to lose weight, despite doing high intensity exercise multiple times / week and eating a calorie restricted diet. When hear what they’re doing & eating, the numbers just don’t seem to add up!
It can be so frustrating when you feel you’re doing ALL of the things, but nothing seems to be working.
Whether you’re a new Mum, a woman going through hormonal changes associated with peri/menopause or a man (yes there’s a few of you on my list!) who are going through a particularly stressful period, I wanted to explain
WHY high-intensity exercise might not be working for you anymore…
1. Hormonal Changes:
Ah, hormones – both a blessing and a curse. With adolescence, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, peri/menopause, womens’ lives really are just a series of hormonal fluctuations! And all of these changes can have an impact on our ability to lose weight, especially with high-intensity exercise.
– Changes in our oestrogen & progesterone levels (which occur during our cycle & peri/menopause) can influence our metabolic rate and the distribution of our body fat, making weight loss more challenging than it used to be in general.
– Exercising at a high intensity (especially with an already stressed system) may actually trigger stress responses in the body, leading to increased cortisol levels. Elevated cortisol can hinder weight loss efforts and even promote fat storage, especially around the midsection, as the body may prioritise storing fat rather than burning it.
2. Increased Stress:
Our lifestyles are busy. You are all likely juggling multiple roles and responsibilities. When we add intense workouts on top of this, it can add additional stress to our system. This may disrupt our sleep patterns, increase cravings for comfort foods, and hinder our body’s ability to burn fat effectively.
3. Overcompensation and Appetite:
Contrary to what we might think, high-intensity workouts can sometimes make us eat more rather than less. Sweating it out in a hardcore exercise session may trigger our appetite, leaving us more prone to overcompensating for the calories burned. They can also increase our perception of hunger, making it challenging to maintain a calorie deficit necessary for weight loss.
So to be clear that I’m NOT saying high intensity exercise is bad! It can be a super efficient and convenient way to sweat & improve your endurance and cardiovascular fitness. But if you are finding what used to work for you just isn’t working anymore, it might be worth considering your body as a whole and asking whether it needs something different in this season of life?
Does this strike a chord with you?