Finding the Right Balance
Three days a week? Every other day? Daily? Alternating cardio and strength? High intensity or low?
My patients frequently come to me with questions like these around the topic of how often and how intensely they should be exercising, so in this article, I will cover the often-confusing topic of finding the best balance in your exercise routine.
I will suggest a few simple principles for you to follow or at least try, but before I do, let’s talk about some very important specifics of the exercise programs you’ve been using, versus those I recommend to be used to help you RecoverMe.
To begin, if you have at one time or another followed a hardcore undereating and over-exercising plan, you fall into one of two categories
1. I will never exercise again!
Or, 2. I want to keep doing hardcore, intense exercise!
If you are a #1, please start moving again. Your RecoverMe program depends on it!
You must move to rebalance and shift hormones back to the way they should be.
Movement is essential and as important as any drug, supplement, or diet I could prescribe for you on your road to RecoverMe. Trust me.
Keep in mind, RecoverMe is not a Fat to Fit program—this one does not come with false promises, nor will it interrupt your schedule and make you feel bad in the long run.
In my new book Obtainable, I mention several RecoverMe exercise plans that are self-graduated.
It’s important to start and progress slowly.
If you would rather not participate in a planned activity, I would encourage some form of simple movement, such as walking or hiking, and a resistance training program.
Now, for you #2s out there—stay within the lines drawn here! You have an unhealthy relationship with exercise. You are actually over-exercising.
Part of your exercise issue is you exercise so much because it makes you feel good. It is the only time your endorphins and other fun brain chemicals are flowing when you are suffering the effects of your diet and exercise program.
In Obtainable, and also in recent blog posts here, I describe ways to help clear your system to get you on the road to recovery, including:
- Optimizing your hormone and nutrient status HERE
- Removing any potential toxins HERE
- Getting your gut to work correctly HERE
All these things will help make your exercise usage tolerable. You will enjoy your exercise again, not just feel like you have to do it!
The easiest thing for you regular exercisers out there to do, or just you people who enjoy exercise, is to continue what you are doing, just cut way back on the intensity.
I would encourage you to follow the recommendations listed directly below and incorporate them into a program you enjoy.
When to exercise
Ideally, exercise is done first thing in the morning, when you wake up. Metabolically, physiologically, and for circadian reasons, especially recovering from a concentrated diet and exercise program, this is important.
As you may know, your brain neurotransmitters, thyroid, sex hormones, and adrenal hormones are off. Your body literally does not know night from day, as everything gets so out of whack following an over-exercising program.
Exercising in the morning, along with other modalities I have and will mention, is a way to start setting things right again.
In reality, though, the best time to exercise is when you can! It has to fit your lifestyle.
You already threw a wrench into your lifestyle doing the Fat to Fit program, so be a little more flexible and gentle with yourself. If trying to get your exercise in stresses you out, then it’s time to be kind and adjust to our RecoverMe program. Make sense?
As most people are glued to their calendars, put your exercise plans on your smartphone, Google calendar, or an old-fashioned wall calendar with the pretty pictures of flowers or funny animals on it. You must write them down or you won’t do them. Have you ever missed an appointment because you forgot to write it down? Me too. Write it down.
The amount of time exercising
People recovering from over-exercising and undereating should not exercise for more than 40 minutes per session. Ideally, you go for 20 to 30 minutes a session. That is it.
If you try to go longer, especially in the recovery phase, you start to impact your hormones in a negative way. Do you know what that means? It means you don’t get better.
The number of days per week to exercise
“Authorities” and “experts” out there give all sorts of recommendations for exercise. The difficulty with these so-called experts is they all come from different areas of expertise.
The heart health experts tell you to exercise X-many days a week.
Weight loss gurus tell you Y-many times a week.
Your personal trainer, who makes more per hour than you do, tells you to do it daily—for obvious reasons.
So, that being said, please allow me to be an expert in your RecoverMe program: You should exercise two to three days a week. Once again, that’s it.
Remember our goal here. Once you have mastered RecoverMe, your frequency can increase.
The number of days to rest between exercise days
So, you ask, does that mean I should exercise for 30 minutes Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and take the rest of the week off?
Well, honestly, if that is what your schedule allows, then yes!
Don’t increase your cortisol, though, increasing stress by trying to work out little details like this.
A Monday, Wednesday, Saturday schedule might be better for your body, so you can RecoverMe between exercise sessions, but focus on making it fit your current schedule.
In summary, and to repeat what I say in my new book Obtainable, to recover from your Fat to Fit undereating and over-exercising program, exercise, whatever you decide on doing, must apply these following rules:
- When to exercise
- First thing in the morning is ideal, but make it work for your schedule
- Amount of time exercising
- Don’t exceed 40 min a session
Ideally 20–30 minutes a session
- 2 or 3 days a week
- Number of days of rest between exercise
- Allow your body to recover for at least one if not two days between exercise session
And a few more precautions including:
- Proper exercise monitoring
- Use a combination of resistance training, stretching and cardio
- Keep your heart rate between 60% and 65% max heart rate
- Have your doctor run labs to make sure you are recovering
In summary: Exercise when it best fits your schedule (ideally first thing in the morning), two or three days a week, with one or two days of rest between, doing a variety of exercise types, using a combination of resistance training, stretching, and cardio while keeping your heart rate at 60% to 65% max.
Don’t exceed this, don’t undercut this. Period. Trust me—you can increase the amount you do once you have fixed yourself.
There you go—this will start you on your road to recovery using exercise.
I’m cheering you on!
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