It might be time to hit pause on high-intensity exercise training.
A problem I see commonly in clinic is women pushing themselves and just never stopping. They are go-go-go, rushing all day long, juggling all of the balls, an insane mental load and don’t give their body and mind the rest it is desperately needing.
Have you felt burnt out? Experienced prolonged, uncontrolled stress?
Does any of this below ring true for you?
Goes to sleep too late, tired but wired
Wakes up feeling like you haven’t slept
Coffee instead of breakfast
Early morning HIIT class
Barely surviving the constant load on your shoulders
Limits food wanting to lose weight, still not losing weight
Skips meals because too busy, eats kids’ scraps
Forgets to drink enough water, usually looks for a second coffee
Priorities everyone else all day
Feel like you are growing and overwhelmed
Irritated and anxious most of the day
Absolutely exhausted by afternoon
A lot of my clients come to an appointment with me because most of the above is impacting their happiness and health.
And in an effort to manage their own health, improve their mental health or lose weight, these women will somehow fit in a high-intensity interval training session like F45, CrossFit. And yet, they often don’t reap the benefits of the exercise, feeling more fatigued and usually their body composition not changing. (And often try to get up early around 5am, 6am to fit this exercise in, losing precious sleep that a burnt out body needs).
So what is going on here?
The higher the intensity of training, the more cortisol is released in the body. Because of this cortisol response it generates, it is perceived by the body as stress. Generating a fight-or-flight response. Your exercise is just piling more cortisol onto this burnout fire.
Excessive levels of cortisol can increase the risk of a number of health issues including weight gain, depression, gut issues, exhaustion, sleep problems and brain fog.
If you are experiencing burnout, the best thing you can do in terms of exercise is to avoid HIIT.
That doesn’t mean avoid exercise altogether though. Gentler exercise that will still provide health benefits, without the cortisol issues, could be walking, yoga and pilates.
And sometimes, this is the only way you actually may find shifts in your body composition. Because with a lessened amount of cortisol each day, your body will slowly begin to feel ‘safe’ enough to drop those extra kgs it was hanging onto.
Adequate recovery is essential from HIIT and avoiding adrenal burnout. Let your intuition guide you on whether you need to have a break from HIIT entirely (if you have full blown burnout), or cut it down to max 2 times per week.