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Is Exercise Making You Fat?

March 16, 2018


Is not enough Rest making you FAT??



Sounds like a Clickbait title right?!  Not at all and read on to find out why…


If you’ve been following me on Instagram or read my last blog post, you know I’m still in the midst of tackling the newest workout program from Beachbody called 80 Day Obsession.  It’s an amazing and super complete program with 80 different workouts all filmed one day at a time, giving the feel that Autumn Calabrese is your very own personal trainer.  One thing I LOVE about this program is that it really focuses on something not talked about much in any other Beachbody program and that is self-care and REST!! 





This program is 6 full days of exercise that is pretty intense, with about 4 of those days being either a full hour or darn near an hour.  If you’re used to 30-minute workouts, it’s a HUGE step up in time and intensity.  Why a full day of REST is so necessary, along with multiple Epsom Salt baths and massages throughout the week. If you have Celiac Disease, food intolerances or other autoimmune and you’re doing this program, it is ESSENTIAL you listen to your body and take the rest you need, whether it coincides with the workout schedule or not.  Exercise is GREAT for us and unless we are in the midst of a flare and there is no reason to NOT exercise and take on challenging and fun workouts living with Celiac or other autoimmune.



I ended up having to take an ENTIRE week off for rest because I ate something my body didn’t like (Rx Bar) on the same night I sat in a hot tub at my son’s apartment complex for an hour breathing in the smelliest chlorine fumes.  My husband, son and I smelled so strongly of chlorine when we got out and our son told us to make sure we showered when we got home.  Well, it was late and we were tired when we got home so we didn’t.  Big mistake.  Huge.  We itched SO bad and smelled SO strongly of chlorine the next morning!  NO problem, I thought, the next day was a rest day.  Monday rolled around and I did Phase 2’s Monday workout, Booty, and was shaking so badly when I finished.  This can be a really good feeling and lets you know you have worked your muscles hard.  The next day I tackled Cardio Core and was so sore and had so little energy it was quite a struggle to even make it through the shortest workout of the week.  Our daughter and son in law were flying in the next day for a quick visit and I couldn’t wait to show them how dedicated we were to this new workout program and maybe have them give a workout a try.  In the meantime, my husband had started Booty with me on Monday and ended up itching so severely, he was so pissed he had to stop and take a shower and slather himself in anti-itch cream.  He was not feeling well at all on Tuesday, so didn’t work out.  By Wednesday, I was so extremely sore walking was painful and sitting was met with a groan down and up.  I KNOW this feeling.  It is my body telling me it is using resources to fix something else, and so a hard workout is not welcomed and my body will fight it and make me extra sore and feel like shit.  So, Wednesday I decided to screw working out for the rest of the week and just enjoy the visit with my family.



This week I have started back up with more energy and ended up using the same weight level as last week but as of today, Thursday, I am NOT sore.  At all.  Because I followed my clean and gluten free and ‘poison’ free nutrition plan, rested and did lots of self-care in the form of Epsom Salt baths, juices, sunshine and even a few walks in the fresh air.



So back to the question of this post---Is NOT taking enough rest making you fat?!  Well, the answer is it very well could be.  First of all, exercising as a method to actually lose weight is rather ineffective.  What?!  I thought exercise was how we lost fat, built muscle and can look hot?  Exercise as a method to losing weight is actually a myth because the first thing exercise does is to increase appetite!  If you follow a portion controlled and inflammatory free eating plan, then exercising can help you shed unwanted fat.  But as with everything, there is also a catch to that one, especially if you have a chronic health condition like Celiac or other autoimmune diseases.  If you don’t listen to the cues your body is giving you when it is time for a rest day, you can kiss the results you want goodbye.  Seriously.  You can’t out exercise a crappy diet and you can’t build muscle if your body is busy fighting the inflammatory bean dinner you gorged on even though you know it makes you feel like shit.



Additionally, taking rest days as needed, even if you need more than one a week and it throws you off schedule, is the only way to truly achieve those health and body composition goals. 


"But….I’m in a Challenge and if I miss a day I will miss out and get thrown off schedule etc."  

So what!!


If you are so sore you can barely move, you are cranky, craving starchy junk, have trouble sleeping, get twitchy legs at night, wake up in the middle of the night and especially if you have low energy for workouts…..you have entered what is known as Chronic Cardio or Overtraining.  It’s not just for elite athletes working out for hours a day. It also happens to regular people like you and me who are totally obsessed with workout programs and exercising to stay fit and trim but who aren’t listening to the cues our body is giving out.  It can especially happen if you live with Celiac disease, food intolerances or other autoimmune because food or stress can cause us to have a full blown or mini flare and during that time, our body will stay busy repairing THAT damage and hard workouts only cause trouble at this point.

Chronic Cardio and Overtraining ends up stressing out the ‘fight or flight’ system of the body, which is how our body reacts to stresses.  This ends up driving cortisol---the stress hormone---to a higher level without let up which leads to illness, injury, fat storage, accelerated aging, screwed up brain function and ultimately burnout.  So, you know the person who is always working out but you never seem to see any body change or they always have a cold or an injury?  Yeah….I see it ALL the time scrolling through Instagram.  I try so hard not to judge or diagnose, but it’s impossible for me to ignore people who clearly are overtraining on chronic cardio and working out because they have yet ANOTHER cold.  Or they have ANOTHER injury they are nursing while they video themselves pressing play because they would NEVER miss a day of working out.  Sigh.





Now I’m not saying every injury or low energy day is chronic cardio or overtraining.  But you should be able to tell the difference.  Like last week when I could BARELY walk and sit after a workout I had done already 5 times without that level of stiffness.  And then pushing myself to follow the schedule and feeling so shitty afterwards the next day.  Or if a headache gets worse after a workout instead of better.  Or the workout makes you feel extra cranky and nasty instead of invigorated.  Or if you have a joint or muscle that is SO sore you end up compensating with poor form and either aggravate that or hurt something else.  Yeah.. Those are the clear signs that you need a rest.  And a rest long enough that you have no soreness, stiffness, headache or whatever is going on and you are happy and ready to workout again.



 What’s chronic cardio and how could it possibly make you fat?




Well, what happens is that when you workout at a higher intensity for a sustained period, your body actually starts burning more glucose and not fat for fuel, which is why higher intensity workouts burn your muscles so badly too.  Fat burns in the presence of oxygen, and so lower intensity workouts like brisk walking, don’t make you huff and puff, which is an indication you have reached your oxygen threshold and now will be using glucose for fuel.  When you do regular workouts of higher intensity, you huff and puff working beyond the capacity of your body to supply enough oxygen and end up using stored glucose and get that nice muscle burn.  Which only becomes a negative thing when done too often with too high intensity.  So the ‘weight gain’ so many women were complaining of after starting 80 Day Obsession?  Fight or flight was triggered, along with cortisol, which not only made muscles swell as they started the repair process, but also the body holding onto water due to the stress of this new assault.  So if this pattern is continued without enough rest, yes, your body will hold onto more than just a bit of fluff in the gut.  Your stressed body will be inflamed and never get that nice ripped look, instead looking fluffy.



What constitutes too much? Well, a daily 30 minute workout even 7 days a week as long as it’s not HIIT every day generally will not cause this issue.  An hour a day?  Well, it depends on the intensity of that daily hour.  According to my ACE Personal Trainer Manual, more than 3-4 high intensity or very long training sessions a week puts a person at risk for Overtraining Syndrome.  Again, as with everything else there are always differences and exceptions like how stressful the rest of your life is or how good your nutrition is weekly.  For example, if your job is super stressful and that daily hour defuses it all and you feel absolutely fabulous afterwards?  You are doing your body a favor.  If you are still VERY sore from a workout 2 days ago and just don’t feel like pressing play, but you feel pressured either by a group or for social media posting or by the workout schedule you are following, now you have entered a possible start to Overtraining and you are not doing yourself or your body or your goals any favors by working out in this state.



Some great things to do for self care and relaxation and recovery are magnesium salt baths (these are my fav brands) and I rotate my baths with baking soda and Borax (yes, it’s totally safe and natural) for an intensive relaxing and cellular nourishing bath every other day.  I also using this massaging roller device to stimulate blood flow to muscles worked hard.  A foam roller is also another must have and I prefer this one or this one, as the firmer foam digs deeper to release tight fascia and knots.  Lavender tea is another great way to relax before bed for a great night’s sleep.



 So do NOT be afraid and get that dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out) if you need to take an extra day or two or week off from a scheduled workout program or even working with a personal trainer to rest your body enough for it to recover and be ready for the next assault.  Stick around for ALL the stretching and warm ups before the workout and after.  Foam roll before and after your workout, stay focused on the right foods for your body, take recovery baths…..and get enough sleep every night.  Your body and #goals WILL thank you for it!





If resting doesn’t help the situation, you could be dealing with food intolerances like I did for years.  But that’s a story and topic for another day! 



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