Here are the questions: How much are you exercising? And is this too much?

Expert opinions vary, but generally speaking, five 45-minute sessions per week should be enough, even to support weight loss and body re-composition.  Six, one-hour sessions per week should be the maximum, with only one or two of those being high-intensity. This is total, including cardio and resistance training.

For weight loss, many top weight loss coaches actually discourage any exercise, at least in the beginning.  There are many anecdotal cases of clients being more successful at weight loss when they waited to incorporate any exercise. Other personal trainers and coaches incorporate some sort of exercise regimen into their programs, but assume their clients will limit their physical activity to their programs—i.e., no extra spin classes, short runs or lifting sessions.

Exercise is great for overall cardiovascular health as well as increasing bone density, muscle mass and, eventually, weight maintenance, but for actual weight loss, clients are often advised to not exercise beyond the casual walk or yoga for stress management.

When most clients hear this, they think this is great. They don’t have to work out. Music to their ears.

But what about you? If you hired a coach and he or she told you to stop working out, what’s the first thing that would go through your mind? Panic? Worry? Disbelief?

Do you already make plans to sneak in the workouts and just not tell them?  Do you think in your mind that they don’t understand that you HAVE to put in more cardio or else you’ll immediately gain weight or lose tone?

Or does it make you a bit anxious to lose the thing that has been taking up all of that time, that is the time when you’re NOT eating, or which is the center of your social life or your identity.

This is actually very common. Listen, I did it for years. I would join programs which laid out perfectly crafted meal plans or calorie/macro targets along with a 30-minute per day workout program. And I’d do it—plus a one-hour daily run and a few power yoga classes and maybe a couple of step aerobics DVDs I owned because, well, I owned them and I was used to doing them in the morning–you get the picture.

And so the program wouldn’t work–either I was undereating for the amount of extra calories I was burning or, more commonly, I couldn’t stick to the diet/nutrition component part of the program. I would either get hungry or I’d start doing that little mental bargaining of ‘I can eat the cookie that showed up in the office breakroom because I ran an extra five miles.” 

It doesn’t work.  This is our hamster wheel.

I’ve heard personal trainers, macro coaches and weight loss coaches complain when clients refuse to give up their extra runs, are sneaking in extra classes or just can’t give up the elliptical trainer. I’ve heard them sigh, seen them roll their eyes and shift the blame to the rebel coaching client who just can’t do what they’re told.

Well, technically the coaches and trainers of those other program are right. Creating a huge calorie deficit through extra cardio is not going to make you lose body fat any faster and will work against you and make their program appear to not work.  Maybe you already know that. Maybe you’ve already been told that.

But what goes through your head when you’re told to limit your workouts to 300 minutes per week maximum?

I get it, because I did that. I was told to limit my workouts, but I had thoughts and feeling that led me to keep working out more. And so I wouldn’t get the results.

I had thoughts and feelings of fear, disbelief and a touch of anxiety that led me to working out more and more and more. Once I figured out where those feelings were coming from, then I was able to stop. Once I learned to question my thoughts, trust myself, love myself, and learn to believe,  then I got results. I lost 15 pounds and got leaner and stronger by working out less.

But first I had to learn to get rid of the all the junk that was going on in my head. I had to learn the process. 

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