When Exercise Can Make Us Gain Weight

It’s easy to think that all exercise is good for us—that all exercise is equal and that it affects us all the same way. The reality is this simply isn’t so. Not all exercise affects everyone the same way. And it’s not to say that there are necessarily bad exercises out there either. What it comes down to is a matter of a bad choice of exercise relative to the tolerance and ability of the person. Exercise is supposed to be a “eaustress” (or good stress), that causes the body to come up with solutions to better handle that stress in the future, thus making positive changes in the body that fit within our desire for change (strength gains, body fat loss, muscle gains, stronger heart, sports performance, etc.). However, if the body already has a low tolerance to stress because of a muscular imbalance it might be easy for the stress of exercise to be a “distress” (or bad stress) to the body and nervous system. Because an imbalance usually indicates joint instability somewhere, when exercise over-challenges this stability it can cause the body to be put in a protective state, which can result in things like excess cortisol production. This happens by way of the HPA Axis, which is the stimulation of the Hypothalamus, the Pituitary Gland and then the Adrenal Cortex. It’s the Adrenal Cortex that then releases cortisol, which is responsible for converting raw energy storage in the liver into usable blood sugar. Too much cortisol in the system increases the amount of blood sugar that can be used immediately (not to mention, you don’t want to use this for energy—you want to use fat storage for energy when trying to lose body fat) and this leads to storage of body fat while reducing the function of the immune system—all things that are opposite effects of what exercise is usually supposed to produce. So working out with muscle tightness, aches and pains—all things that are the symptom of muscle imbalances and joint instability—can trigger the body to store more fat, thus nullifying, if not reversing, the positive effects exercise was supposed to produce.

This is why we spend time with each client evaluating their mechanical system before they start a program here. It allows us to identify and treat those imbalances so the body is better suited to handle a wide variety of stress—that coming from a wide variety of exercise. If anything, we have a better grasp as to what we can and can’t do with the body.

Consider that if you have ever had to work really hard to lose weight their might be other stress factors at play here that are causing your body to want to work against itself. In previous posts I talked about how an improper focus can cause this same stress scenario. It can happen from any over-stress environment whether it is mechanical/physical, mental/emotional, or chemical/nutritional. Knowing how to listen to your body (how it moves and how it responds to all foods) and how you feel when you think (listening to your emotional feedback—thinking negative thoughts are your indicator of you working against yourself) will help you find areas that may be working against you in the long run.

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