Goldilocks and the Three Bears of Exercise. Why too much exercise is just as detrimental as too little.
Goldilocks and the three bears of exercise… Once upon a time Goldilocks went to a nice doctor in Louisiana because she had a serious muffin top and no matter what she did, she couldn’t budge it. Goldilocks told the nice Doctor, “I used to not exercise at all, and I got fat! But then, I started running marathons through the woods, and I still stayed fat! I exercise more than I ever have in my life, and nothing helps! Tell me Doctor, what can I do?”
The Doctor replied, “Well, Goldilocks, just like the best porridge is neither too hot nor too cold, the same goes for exercise. You do have to ‘move it to lose it’ but you don’t want to over-do it with sustained exercise. You see, exercise makes the muscles release a compound called IL-6. This IL-6 goes to your brain and signals it to tone down your hunger. It goes to your liver and tells it to balance out your blood sugar fluctuations better. It goes to your fat cells and tells them to burn more fat. But life is not all comfy begs and toasty porridge. There are two key types of exercise – A) Sustained duration exercise, like your running through the woods, and B) short duration, high intensity exercise. Like those 5-10 minute microburst sessions where you have to get away from those scary bears!. Long periods of exercise induce chemical reactions which negate the benefits of IL-6, and they increase stress hormones, like cortisol, which can make it much, much harder to burn fat. It is the short microburst activity, like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or weight training, that shuts down the production of the inflammatory compounds and aging compounds your fat cells produce . They also elevate your metabolic rate, and even stimulate your thyroid health. HIIT is MUCH better than sustained exercise if your goal is to burn fat! So Goldilocks, we need to find the ‘just right’ level of exercise for your body. This means when you exercise, you are going to give it your all for very short periods of time, 45 seconds! then work slowly for a minute, then do another 45 second burst of intense activity. Do this 5-10 times, so you end up doing 10-15 minutes of physical activity, and do this once a day. You can do this twice a day if you really want to. This will make your body burn fat for hours and hours! Bye-bye muffin top, hello skinny lederhosen!”
THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET WHEN IT COMES TO WEIGHT LOSS! That is why there is NO SINGLE THING that will work for everyone. There are simply too many factors involved. That said, we can encompass these factors into key categories: Dietary, Hormonal, Chemical, Exercise, and last but not least – Emotional. Dietary factors are the easiest to explain – you have to feed your body real food and provide it with nutritionally sound fuel if you want it to function at a decent level. You wouldn’t put bad gas in your car and expect it to run well, the same can be said for your body. The second imbalance is hormonal – while we have dozens of hormones that readily affect our weight, with women, thyroid, adrenal, or sex hormone imbalances are the most common culprits. Chemical imbalances are both the easiest and the hardest to change. You have control over the chemicals you expose your body to, you may not have as much control over the medications you take. Nearly every drug that is prescribed not only induces specific vitamin and mineral depletions, but many are highly toxic and have a plethora of side effects. There is a long list of medications that not only impair weight loss but can cause weight gain. If you are on prescribed medications which are associated with weight issues- speak to your prescribing physician to see if there are better options (with fewer side effects) available to you. Exercise is the factor which everyone underestimates. Now, I don’t think you need to run marathons or bench press your weight, but most people think they exercise far more than they do. Get a pedometer and keep a record of your physical activity. Walking is one of the best activities you can do. If you can handle more, look into HIIT, yoga, swimming, or even mild weights. Chiropractors are always fond of the saying, “move it or lose it” – if you are not actively moving your joints, you accelerate the aging process, and your strength and flexibility will decrease at a fairly consistent rate. Lastly – lets look at emotional factors. There is a HUGE emotional component to weight loss (and to allergies, but I will save that conversation for another day). Some of us get comfort from food. Some of us were conditioned as children to ‘clean our plates’, some are addicted to fats and sweets. Women that are nurturing and caregivers tend to struggle with weight more than those that are not care givers. Some use fat as an insulation against emotions. Some of us mentally *see* ourselves as a big girl, and can’t even imagine ourselves thinner. Some of us have given up hope.
Let me be very blunt – no one will ever reach and maintain their ‘happy weight’ unless all of these factors are balanced. You might lose and regain the same 15 (or 40) lbs over and over, but you will not be able to maintain it. As a chiropractor, I am trained in balancing the body – that is what we do. We balance it so it works correctly. Moving into the weight loss realm isn’t that much different – you will notice that everything I suggest or recommend isn’t extreme, it is practical & doable. I focus on helping you achieve balance – and I give you simple tools to accomplish that. It could be supplements to balance what your gallbladder should be doing. It could be supplements which balance your body chemistry so you can enhance your metabolism. It may be easy activities like walking to increase your cardiovascular fitness and lymph flow. I may suggest you speak to your physician about certain medications, and I may even suggest other things which impact those emotional factors.
Weight loss is a process, your happy weight is the destination. The road isn’t easy, but it isn’t hard either – it just requires consistent effort. The process doesn’t usually occur at warp speed, but you didn’t accumulate those impairments to your health overnight either. I have dedicated my life to helping people – and if YOU don’t give up on you, I won’t either! Anyone who purchases products from me, whether it is Beta, Vitamin D, – or anything else, becomes my personal client. I send you my personal phone number, my email, and make myself completely accessible to you. I will help you reach your goals, but I want you to know that I can’t do the work for you – only steer you in the right direction. You are always in control of your own destiny.
So, as you’ve read this, and are contemplating your own situation, ask yourself if you are balanced. Are you focusing all of your efforts on one factor and ignoring the rest? If you make a concerted effort to achieve balance in all of these 5 factors, I can absolutely guarantee you that you will achieve your happy weight and never leave it again!
This is an aspect of weight loss that perplexes a lot of people – they start a new diet and notice their clothes getting looser, or their face getting thinner – but their weight is staying the exact same! It is frustrating, because you *think* your diet is working but you step on the scale and feel like a big old failure.
Well, I am here to tell you that you can relax! You are not a failure! You are experiencing the wonders of the fat cell in action (I can hear you saying, “big whoop — skinny thighs are what excites me!”).
Let’s start off with a little physiology lesson. In your body you have 10-30 billion fat cells, and that is if you are of a healthy weight. Overweight people can have 75 billion fat cells or more, and it is not unheard of for morbidly obese people to have 250-300 billion fat cells overwhelming their boney frames! That is a LOT of fat cells (adipocytes). Picture each fat cell like a little deflated balloon. That balloon can be relatively empty or filled to the brim and be stretched over 10x its normal size. Now these fat cells are stubborn creatures – you can always make more, but once you have them, they are yours for good. Up until very recently1, it was thought that the only way to get rid of fat cells was to cut them out, but you can deflate them — and this is the key to losing weight effectively.
You see, fat cells are little storage tanks, and despite your most heartfelt desires to the contrary, they are remarkably efficient at storing fat in the form of triglycerides within the cell. When we want to burn fat – it isn’t an easy matter of having your brain tell your body, “we need more energy – let’s burn that love handle”. It doesn’t work that way! We need two enzymes, hormone sensitive lipase and adipose glyceride lipase to break down the triglyceride within fat cell where it is then released into the bloodstream as FFA’s. The more blood supply an area has, the better it can whisk away those FFA’s that are getting dumped from the fat cells. You can see this on your own body — take a second and poke your facial cheeks. See, the fat there is nice and soft because it has a good blood supply. Now grab the fat on your belly or on your butt. Feel the difference? It is dense and hard. It doesn’t have a good blood supply to whisk fat away. This is why when you start losing weight, it usually leave the ‘soft’ places first – your face, breasts, and arms and leaves you feeling like a saggy humpty dumpty for a while. This blood flow issue also leads us to our key point – when you start a diet and are burning fat, the scale often stays immobile despite you noticing that you are shrinking. This happens because the body abhors a vacuum. When the adipocytes dump out their fatty contents, your body doesn’t like to see an empty cell – so it shuttles water into the cell to fill up the space the fat just occupied. This is also why fat loss can be considered an inflammatory process and why you often feel bad, tired, sick, or swollen when you are dieting (there are other chemical factors, but we will discuss those at another time). Your body is literally replacing the fat with water! This process is more extreme for some people than for others, and some fortunate souls experience very little of this water replacement. This is also why your stomach or thighs can feel mushy or spongy when you are losing weight – you are replacing a dense fat with water.
So, what you can do, especially if you know that you have resilient fat or are a water hoarder? Well, there are a few simple things:
- Stay hydrated. I know, you’re thinking, “Why put more water into a swollen body?”, — Well, you need to flush out the metabolites from breaking down those FFA’s.
- Limit Caffeine and Alcohol. A little of either substance is OK, and small doses of caffeine can even be beneficial because it has a mild diuretic effect. Large amounts of either (and by large I am referring to more than 3 caffeinated beverages or more than 1 glass of wine or beer each day) can cause you to swell up like a balloon at the Macy’s Day Parade AND make your hard-earned weight loss come to a grinding halt.
- Shake your booty. Yes, I said it. The largest lymphatic pump in your body is the quadriceps muscles in your legs, so anything that gets those quads pumping — like walking, dancing, or biking, increases your lymph flow and your blood flow. If you work yourself up to a decent exertion point, then you will really increase systemic blood flow, and breathing (and breathing is the means by which your body excretes the metabolites of burnt fat cells!). Dig out those Richard Simmons’ shorts you’ve been hanging onto for the past 20 years — (they are back in style) and get ‘Sweatin’ to the Oldies!’
So there you have it! Know that you are not hallucinating – your face is thinner, your breasts are shrinking, and those bingo wings are real. Your scale just hasn’t caught up with your body! The more you follow the above steps – the faster you will purge that excess water (and inflammation) and the scale will start moving in the right direction.
One of the few negative things about weight loss is that some people are left with focal areas of saggy skin. Not only is this skin unsightly, but it can create hygiene issues and physical discomfort. Even minor weight loss can result in lumpy, less resilient skin that is prone to cellulite. Larger amounts of weight loss can leave some people with excessive amounts of hanging, sagging skin; which can be prone to skin irritation and even infection or chronic inflammation. Some people find their abdominal skin is so loose that it appears more like an alien landscape than the body they have come to know. It just doesn’t feel like “you”.
It used to be that you had two options on dealing with it – you could live with it or you could get it surgically removed. Well, I am here to tell you that there is a lot that can be done, and if you are still in process with your weight loss journey, there is even more we can do to minimize those dreaded bingo wings and abdominal aprons (pannus).
I remember looking at my own abdomen shortly after my second child was born, and thinking “when did I become a shar pei?” You can be ecstatic about accomplishing your weight loss goals but feel demoralized every time you look in the mirror. It is not fun, and has to be the least sexy feeling in the world! So this is what I did, and this is what I recommend to my patients and clients:
Wrinkles and skin folds are cute on babies and dogs. On us, not so much!2
First, never under estimate the power of DRY BRUSHING. Dry Brushing is a technique involving a dry brush (shocking, I know!) where you make long sweeping passes lightly over your skin. Always moving towards your lymph nodes and heart.
Arrows indicate the direction of your passes with the dry brush1
I recommend that you start with your feet and work up towards your waist, then move to your hands and brush towards your heart, finishing with your neck and torso – also directing all brush strokes towards the heart. Remember, always use a dry brush, and do this before your shower so you wash off any toxins that you release. Some people chose to purchase two brushes for this task, one a small brush that straps to the palm of your hand, and the other, a similar brush attached to a stick to make reaching inaccessible areas easier.
So how does this work, well, first we need to remember that your skin is your largest organ, and is occasionally referred to as your third kidney because it eliminates approximately a pound of toxins per day, mostly through your sweat glands. In addition, over 33% of your blood supply is directed to your skin but it is one of the last areas to receive nutrients, so it is subject to showing signs of deficiency. The skin closely interacts with the lymphatic system, another powerful system of detoxification.
ü Dry brushing stimulates lymphatic drainage and the elimination of toxins
ü It encourages circulation and revascularization of hypoxic tissues
ü By increasing blood flow, it encourages nerve conduction and wound healing
ü It stimulates your immune system
ü It stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, thus tightening skin that has lost some of its elasticity
ü It removes layers of dead skin and encourages the growth of new skin cells
ü It improves skin texture and reduces signs of cellulite
ü It stimulates hormone production and oil gland secretion
ü It helps with more even distribution of fat deposits
ü It improves nervous system functioning by stimulating nerve ending firing and receptors in the skin
ü It is invigorating
ü It is quick and inexpensive
Tips – use a light touch on thinner areas of skin, and a stronger touch on thicker areas of skin (like the abdomen, legs, and feet). It should not hurt, but it should feel invigorating. Do 8 to 10 strokes on each area before moving on. When you first get started with dry brushing, you may only be able to tolerate a few minutes of it. Once established though, it should take 10-15 minutes to cover your entire body. Do not brush moist skin as you can cause micro tears in the outer layer of skin. If you can dry brush during your weight loss journey, then you may avoid loose skin all together. If you have stubborn areas, like under the arms, love handles, or a pannus, – you can spend extra time brushing them to stimulate the skin. If you have areas that are especially sensitive to the dry brushing, you can avoid them for the time being, the same can be said for damaged or wounded skin. Never dry brush skin wounds or infections. Always shower after dry brushing, and if you can end your shower with 15 seconds or so of cold water, that will further stimulate the skin. I recommend dry brushing 6 days per week, and using a salt or mineral scrub on the 7th day. This gives your body a break to further detoxify and regenerate. After your shower, massage a high grade plant oil (olive, coconut, almond, flax, sesame, avocado, castor oil with essential oils, etc.)
Other things you can do now to avoid your outer shar pei and encourage skin tightening:
1. Limit sun exposure. Avoid sunburns and tanning beds.
2. Get a massage. Massage therapy stimulates circulation, and can release pockets of inflammation.
3. Keep hydrated! Another reason for you to be drinking that water.
4. Increase your consumption of raw foods. Raw foods contain enzymes that promote immune function and digestion, and decrease inflammation.
5. Consume high quality protein. Your body needs high quality protein to replace and repair its own supply. Collagen and elastin both require protein building blocks.
6. Make sure to wash chlorine from skin after swimming. Avoid putting chemicals or artificial creams or moisturizers on your skin.
7. Use alcohol in moderation. Alcohol can severely impact collagen synthesis.
8. Use seaweed or other ‘wraps’ to help tone the skin
9. Take at least 1 Epsom salt bath per week to pull toxins and to increase your serum levels of magnesium (at least 2 cups of Epsom salts in a bath for at least 20 minutes)
10. Use an abdominal or sports wrap on areas you tend to be losing too quickly from so that the skin remains compressed.
11. Avoid cigarette smoke at all cost!
Healthy skin requires normal levels of collagen and elastin. Dry brushing will encourage the production of these, but supplementation is likely necessary.
Vitamin C is the backbone of collagen formation. 500-3000 mg per day is the average daily requirement range. If you are losing weight quickly or already have lose skin, you will require doses towards the higher end of the spectrum.
Magnesium is required for hyaluronic acid production (the gel-like substance that is found in skin, joints, and soft tissue). It is also required for over 200 different biochemical processes in the body.
Omega 3 fatty acids support the fatty membrane structure of all cells and improve skin repair and turn over.
Lysine, argenine, glycine, and proline – amino acids necessary for collagen and elastin production. Glycine also plays a role in blood glucose regulation, muscle repair, digestion, and glutathione production. You can supplement with these individually or use a broad spectrum amino acid containing supplement like whey protein to get in all of the amino acids.
Bone Broth – One of the traditional foods that is rarely found in the modern diet, it has been suggested that a lack of bone broth (and its associated minerals, gelatin, and collagen) is one of the major reasons why arthritis is so prevalent now. Minerals found in bone broth are highly absorbable, far more than from most dietary supplements. If you make your own bone broth (which I highly recommend) roast your bones first, then gently boil them with your cut vegetables and 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar to help make the minerals more absorbable. You know you’ve made a great bone broth when you refrigerate it and find a thick layer of gel on it. When you cook meat, try cooking it on the bone for additional collagen and proteoaminoglycans.
Green tea – a potent source of catechins, which help with collagen and elastin production. Enjoy a few cups of green tea each week to reap its benefits.
Taking these steps will make a marked improvement in your skin. Now some people will always be candidates for surgery, but I always recommend using natural methods first, because once you cut, there is no going back. If you can do these while you are undergoing your weight loss, your skin will tighten at nearly the same rate as your fat loss – thus likely preventing sagginess to begin with. What do you have to lose other than those bingo wings?!
Edited to add: I’ve had several requests for me to show what a dry brush looks like: http://www.amazon.com/Tampico-Approx-Inches-Yerba-Prima/dp/B008MONZFI/ref=sr_1_4?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1386109118&sr=1-4&keywords=skin+brush
Copyright (c) 2013 Miranda Jorgenson. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part with out the express written permission of the author. You are welcome to share this link or print this page and use in its entirely.
1. Drybrush picture. Retrieved 12/3/2013 from http://mayamoonhealingarts.com/dry-skin-brushing/
2. Shar pei. Source: imgfave.com via DoanPhuong on Pinterest, Retrieved 12/3/2012 from http://www.gracielushihtzu.com/baby-shair-pei
3. Pannus. Retrieved 12/3/2013 from: http://www.eplasty.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=627&catid=173:volume-12-eplasty-2012&Itemid=121
There is so much information and misinformation about weight loss on the internet that it is hard to wade through it all. Everyone has a different theory – it is fats, it is carbs, it is meat, it is dairy, it is preservatives, it is too many calories, it is not enough exercise, it is an inevitable part of aging, it is estrogens, it is not enough testosterone, it is mercury in retrograde… blah, blah, blah… Surely someone must have some answers!
Well, ten years of nutritional practice has taught me that no one has all of the answers. If you find someone who claims otherwise – RUN the other way! Weight loss science is constantly changing and it is as mercurial as the people who espouse individual diet plans. Quite simply, there is no quick fix and there is no single plan that will work for 100% of everyone. Period.
What I can tell you is that there are certain hormones that play key roles in many people’s weight gain or inability to lose weight.
1. Your body is not producing enough adiponectin. Adiponectin is a protein specific to fat cells and it is believed to play a role in the development of insulin resistance and atherosclerosis. Typically, the more body fat you carry, the lower your adiponectin levels, with increased levels of visceral fat (that fat hidden in your abdomen, packed around your internal organs) being especially correlated to decreased levels of adiponectin. Almost every symptom associated with metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance can be directly tied to adiponectin, so – how do you make more of this hormone and head off these problems? First, you need to increase your magnesium intake with supplements (like BioCleanse, or magnesium glycinate) and magnesium rich foods (raw spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, fish, brown rice, bananas, figs, avocados, dark chocolate, etc.). Second, you should look into fish oil (omega 3 fatty acid) supplementation and exercise to increase your adiponectin levels.
2. Insulin imbalance. Think of insulin as a key that unlocks your cells so your body can take the glucose (sugars) in your blood stream and store it away in the cell for later. If you don’t have enough insulin, your circulating blood sugars remain too high, and these negatively affect your vasculature system, your fat storage, your blood pressure, your ability to heal, and even your brain. Much of the medical community thinks that insulin resistance stems from the body not having enough insulin, but other researchers, like Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, believe that too much insulin is the problem. He postulates that elevated levels of circulating insulin are even more problematic, and that many of the drugs and methods used to treat elevated blood sugar levels , actually cause the body’s tissues to be flooded with too much insulin, which slowly cause your body’s cells to become resistant to it, which means that greater and greater levels of insulin are needed to see any effect, which leads to vicious blood sugar and insulin swings, making these hormones rollercoaster throughout the day. The ingredients in Plexus Slim support the normalization of your insulin resistance. In addition, some studies have shown that consuming 2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar before a high fat meal may work as well as drugs at decreasing blood sugar levels. If you consume artificial sweeteners, do yourself a giant favor and STOP!
3. Too much ghrelin. Ghrelin is your hunger hormone and it is found in the cells that line your stomach. It stimulates the hunger center of the brain and makes you desire sweet or rich foods. In fact, it is so efficient at stimulating your hunger centers, that elevated levels of ghrelin will make you feel the same way as if your were in full starvation mode – desperately craving the richest, highest calorie foods you can imagine. Furthermore, it makes you feel unsatisfied with the amount and quality of food you have eaten, whether you are truly full or not. It’s why you can slip in that piece of pecan pie or chocolate cake for dessert when you are already uncomfortably full from eating that big turkey dinner. A classic sign that you have too much ghrelin is that you feel you have room for dessert, or you find you are a bit hungry an hour or so after you eat. You fridge-cruisers know who you are! Ghrelin cycles in 4 hour increments, so typically you would be hungriest 4 hours after your last meal. So how do you address ghrelin? There are a few different things you can do. First, make sure you are getting enough sleep. 8 hours of sleep per night is the ideal. If you are getting less, or have poor quality sleep, please know that sleep deprivation causes your ghrelin levels to increase. Protein intake also staves off the release of elevated ghrelin levels, so make sure that each meal starts off with high quality protein sources (this is particularly important for breakfast). Consuming a small bowl of broth or soup before a meal is an excellent way to prevent ghrelin levels from rising too much.
4. Cortisol overload. We are designed for fight or flight. Cortisol is produced as a response to stress (and who isn’t stressed nowadays?). It increases your cravings for sweets and carbohydrates, it increases muscle breakdown for energy production, it increases the percentage of fat that is stored in your abdominal area, and it increases your levels of depression and anxiety – which make you eat more, which further increases your cortisol levels, creating a vicious cycle, resulting in you feeling tired and burnt out all of the time. Supplements such as fish oil, Rhodiola, lactium, magnesium, DHEA, and b-vitamins can all help reduce cortisol levels. Other things that have a positive effect include slow exercise like yoga or walking, meditating, praying, or just getting into a ‘zone’ where you let your creativity reign. Limiting coffee, and making sure you get enough sleep are other ways to keep cortisol levels normal.
So before you give up he fight, have a good look at these factors and see which ones may pertain to you and take the action steps needed to achieve your ideal weight. I have found Plexus Slim to be an excellent tool for my patients and clients in achieving their ideal weight in a safe and efficient manner. It truly is the non-diet, because it never involves meal replacements, shakes, calorie counting, points, or anything else. It simply helps to normalize insulin resistance and inflammation levels so your body can release the weight it’s been hanging on to. In addition, it makes it easy to make healthier food choices. You didn’t gain those 40 extra pounds in a month, and it will take you time to lose it, but the key is you. You have to draw that line in the sand and start something. 4 months from now, you can be the same weight you are now (or even heavier!), and still have those aches and pains, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, etc., or 4 months from now you can feel like a million bucks. No one can ever force you to change because the choice truly is yours, but, if you want help and are sincere about making change, I will help you every step of the way!
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