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Simple Strength For Women: A Bodyweight Strength Training Program for Women After Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery: https://kersten-kimura.teachable.com/p/simple-strength-for-women
Apply to work with me: https://urbanjane.co/work-with-me/
Overtraining and Your Hormones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFwMSKHI0WE&t=74s
Losing Weight After Overtraining & Burnout Recovery: Should You Try It, and If So, How?
There's one thing I want you to know about me: I am not anti exercise, and I am not anti fat loss if the individual is healthy and does it in a healthy way.
I will never say that regular exercise is always an obsession, and making working out a priority is a bad thing. I have to say this because I see plenty of people who used to be very overtrained and had a terrible relationship with food, bashing regular exercise. I want to be clear that I'm not one of them.
I also understand that weight loss is often achieved via extreme ways, and therefore, can cause food obsession and overtraining. I was there once too. But I also know that it can be done in a responsible and sustainable way.
Why I Was Hesitant To Talk About Fitness and Fat Loss
To be honest, for quite some time after my own recovery I felt almost fearful to share my own workouts on social media. I felt that because I had been talking about Hypothalamic Amenorrhea for such a long time, now starting showing my own workouts was somehow wrong.
But I also realized that I want to show what the life AFTER burnout looks like, and to me, it looked like doing more exercise.
Furthermore, now, 3 years after recovery, I had decided to try and lose some body fat, and at first that too seemed like a big deal. Many people may claim that if you want to change your body, that means that you don't love yourself, and even worse, will definitely cost you another eating disorder.
This does not have to be true, and hasn't been in my case. My relationship with food is great, I am healthy and feel good, so there is no reason why I should hide it! I felt like I'm inauthentic when I don't share that.
I want you to know that you don't have to feel guilty for wanting to change your body, you have the right to do so.
In today's post, I'm sharing with you how to know if losing weight after overtraining and hypothalamic amenorrhea recovery is right for you, and if so, how to go about it.
Is Losing Weight After Overtraining and Burnout Recovery the Right Step For You?
First, I want you to be able to figure out if you really should attempt any fat loss or not. You may or may not be ready for it. The next steps will help you answer this question.
First, you have to be physically healthy in order to even consider fat loss.
Physiological Signs That Tell You: You Are NOT Ready for Fat Loss
- Your periods are missing. Obviously, if you still have Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, this is not the time to attempt any leaner look or weight loss.
- Your body temperature is low and you're feeling cold often. This may mean that your metabolism isn't healthy yet — be sure to sign up for this program!
- You can’t sleep at night. You have hard time falling asleep, and your sleep is restless.
- You want to sleep all the time. No matter how many hours you get, you're still exhausted and not rested. In either sleep issue, you're not ready for fat loss.
- You wake up several times at night to pee. This is obviously another sign that your sleep is interrupted. Getting up 3-4 times a night to pee is common in overtrained people. You're not ready for fat loss.
- You're losing hair, your nails are weak and your skin is dull. These signs say that you're not healthy and ready for fat loss. They indicate problems with metabolism, and possibly thyroid dysfunction.
- You don't recover from your workouts well — your muscles are often sore for days after your workout. You're not ready to start working on your body composition.
- You have extreme cravings and your extreme hunger is not satisfied yet. Extreme hunger is a phase that we often go through when we start our recovery from overtraining and/or under eating, so it's clearly too early to attempt any physique change!
In addition to your physiology, also your mindset has to be ready for it.
Mental Signs That Tell You: You Are NOT Ready for Fat Loss
- You're still measuring your success and value as a person based on how much your body changed (or didn't). If this is the case, you're certainly not ready for fat loss attempts.
- You still see food as an enemy, not as a friend. If this is the case, you will be tempted to skip means and/or drop calories too low. As a result, your metabolism will backfire and the old symptoms will come back.
- You punish yourself for eating, by doing a lot of exercise, or you try to earn your food via exercise. You have to let go of this thought and realize that in order to successfully lose fat and not mess up your hormones again, you have to eat! As long as you have the old mentality, you should not try to lose fat after overtraining or burnout recovery.
- You're impatient and want to see quick weight loss. If this is the case, you're very likely going to take extreme steps towards losing fat, and we all know how that's going to end…
- You dread the fat loss because you're making it too extreme. If the whole process is dreadful, if you have to push and force yourself, if you're about to go on a diet that makes you cut calories too fast — your mindset is not ready for sustainable, healthy fat loss. It's a long game!
- You're still getting on the scale. Let go of the scale! As long as you're attached to it, you can't change in a healthy way, and you likely find yourself in square one soon — with too low bodyweight, and metabolic issues, like missing periods, for example, caused by it. Besides, you may lose precious muscle in addition to fat, if all you care about is weight loss. More on that later in this post.
- You're jumping on the fat loss wagon way too soon. You should not start this process just a few months after restoring your metabolism (which is a very gradual process) and recovering from overtraining. That’s too soon! It's hard to tell what the right time is for each individual. Me personally — I had been fully recovered for almost 3 years before I decided to lose some fat (which was in April 2020). Some may be ready a year after they recovered. And some never want to do it — that's fine too!
Are You Ready To Lose Some Fat After Overtraining or Burnout Recovery?
If your body and mind are ready, and if you want to lose some body fat, I want to share with you 7 tips that will be the most helpful for you. If you do everything right, this time around, you will be able to change your body composition, this time, in a sustainable way.
Of course, keep in mind that the goal isn't, and shouldn't be, to go back to the same weight and fat percentage level where you were before, because this was clearly unhealthy for you. The goal is to reduce some body fat and increase lean muscle mass, without losing so much that it would harm your health, hormonal and otherwise.
7 Tips For A Healthy Fat Loss After Overtraining or Burnout Recovery
1. Forget About The Scale. Seriously!
Don’t look at your bodyweight. Literally, don’t worry about the scale at all!
If you’ve been focused on losing weight for a long time, now, after reading this post, I hope your focus will shift from losing weight to building a stronger and leaner body — in other words, increasing lean body mass (we'll get to how to do it, soon). If you look at the scale, you may not even see how your body is changing — adding more muscle and letting go of some fat. That's because the number on the scale may not change.
In addition, there's the mental part. Most people let the number on the scale get into their heads which will not help them. I am not saying that bodyweight is never a factor when it comes to our health. In fact, I believe that obesity is dangerous as it poses many health risks — unpopular opinion in many body positive circles. But you are likely not an obese person, so that should not worry you.
2. Switch From Cardio To Strength Training
I know you’re likely tempted to do a lot of cardio because you think you burn more calories.
It’s true that we burn calories while doing cardio, but our body learns to adapt to this new state. That means, your body learns that it has less calories, so it has to down regulate its functions again.
And this is where the old cycle starts again: Running more and more, eating less and less, until you're back at eating 1200 calories and training hours a day, and you realize soon that there's nowhere to go anymore.
Your metabolism becoming lower and lower.
By the way, those 45+ minute bodyweight or light weight circuit workouts have a little more strength component to it than just running, but they are still mostly cardio. So, they make you sweat and burn calories while you’re doing them, but they’re still not really helpful in building muscle which we’re talking about next.
3. Stop Burning Off Your Muscle!
When most women say they want to lose weight, they often don’t realize that they actually want to have a leaner look which is only achievable with strength training, not running.
Running is catabolic training, which means, it’s breaking down the tissue — but not only fat but also muscle tissue. You want to maintain as much muscle tissue as possible!
Strength training on the other hand, is more anabolic in nature, meaning, it builds muscle. Doing too much catabolic training like running, will make you weigh less but also make you lose muscle. If the focus is on the anabolic training like weight lifting, we will gain muscle and if programmed right, lose fat.
4. Lift Heavy Weights!
After a sufficient ramp-up period and easing back in to exercise, you want to start lifting heavy weights if your goal is to improve your physique.
My program Simple Strength for Women is a great foundational program that helps you get back to training safely and prepare you for heavier weight training that should happen next. This program has received many great reviews, and none of the women who has done it, has reported their periods going missing again.
Once you’ve completed this program, I’d really like to see you pick up some heavy weights because weights are exactly what help you build muscle and reduce body fat. Forget about doing 20-30 reps of pulse squats with light pink weights. Get yourself a set of heavy dumbbells instead or get under a heavy barbell if you want to change your body!
Here’s my basic strength training template for you: Pick 3-6 exercises that utilize large muscle groups, and do them with relatively heavy weights. Exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, rows, overhead presses are all great. Add in a few core exercises, like planks or reverse crunches. Do 8-12 reps so that the last rep feels really heavy, then rest for about a minute before repeating the same exercise.
This, not excessive cardio, will be your foundation to improving your body composition.
5. Sleep Enough
I’ve said it many times because it’s true: If you went to sleep at 11 or 12 and maybe had disrupted sleep that only lasted for for 5 hours, then by getting up at 5 and hitting the gym is not doing you any service.
In order to be able to lose body fat, you have to get proper rest. Not sleeping enough will increase your cortisol because you’re stressed out, and when we’re stressed out, we hold on to body fat instead of letting it go. It's our body's protection mechanism. You can learn more about cortisol and how it affects your hormones, in this video.
6. Increase Your Protein
If your goal is to get leaner, you have to up your protein intake.
Most of my clients have been restricting their calories severely because they’ve been so afraid of weight gain, and that combined with tons of cardio has led to loss of body weight, including muscle. Remember the catabolic effect of running?
To gain that muscle back and achieve that leaner look, you have to increase your protein!
How much? There are two ways to go about it.
One way to do it is to track it. Many women after recovery don’t want to track anything, because it can easily become obsessive again and they find it triggering. I didn’t want to track anything for many years, but three years recovered and I am tracking and feeling perfectly okay doing it.
So, if you feel like you are ready to track, I recommended protein intake is 0.7-1 gram per lbs of bodyweight. I’ve often seen that an average woman who weighs 150lbs doesn’t even get 100 grams of protein per day, which is why that leaner look is not happening.
If you don’t want to track, make sure to eat protein at every meal. And no, peanut butter or quinoa aren’t significant sources of protein. We’re talking about lean meats, fish, eggs and greek yogurt, for example.
Note: Whenever I talk about food, I hope you know by now that I would never want you to do anything that feels obsessive or too much pressure. I want your health and wellbeing always be more important than your physique.
7. Ramp Up Your NEAT
NEAT stands for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis which means, energy that is burned via other movement than formal exercise.
Instead of doing hours and hours of running, let's get the NEAT up! Simple ways to increase your neat are parking your car farther on the parking lot, taking the stairs, walking to work, and so on. NEAT adds up because all these activities burn energy, but do so in a non-stressful way and can even do so in a way that reduces cortisol.
Walking is one of the best ways to increase your NEAT, but be sure to do it in the right environment if possible. For example, if you walk in a nature setting, this is going to support your physique goals and mental wellbeing better than walking on the elliptical machine in a loud gym while checking your emails and stressing out!
If you want to lose fat and change your body composition after overtraining and burnout recovery, please first make sure that you're physically and mentally ready for it.
If you are, follow the 7 tips that help you get there in a much healthier way.
Don't forget to sign up for the Burnout Recovery Spectrum video course! This video course starts on Wednesday, 6/1 and lasts for 5 days. Upon your sign up, you'll be sent all the details and the link where you can join the Facebook group. See you there!