Most of us have done this before. We skip a few workouts, and before you know it, we are eating crappy, eating too much, feeling fat, and just eating more and more. Here are 3 chemical reasons why we EAT MORE when we skip our workouts – and if you think about it, these same reasons are also often times why we WORKOUT LESS.
1. WE ARE TIRED. Ironically, one of the reasons we skip workouts is because we are too tired. However, many times we still don’t give our body the rest it needs to recover. We continue to go, go, go. Since calories are energy, some experts say our body craves calories because it knows it will wake us up and energize us. However, what we probably need is just a really good night sleep so we wake up refreshed and energized the healthy way.
2. WE ARE STRESSED. Many times we skip a workout because we are stressed out and can’t focus. When we are stressed, we often don’t feel like being around people and we just want to hide – so extra social events like going to the gym get the ax. Also, the more people are stressed, the less they sleep. So #1 is already in play. Researchers say that when we are stressed our body releases more cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Some reports indicate that increased cortisol is linked to increased belly fat and increased cravings. Then there is just the “woe, is me” part. The more stressed we get, the more sorry we feel for ourselves, and the more we decide we deserve the ice cream because it’s been “such a rough day”. The best way to combat stress, is sleep and exercise. If you want to combat stress eating, you have to combat the stress.
3. WE ARE BORED. We are too tired to workout and to stressed to think – so we plop down on the couch to “relax”. Since we skipped our workout, we actually have MORE time to do nothing (and more time to eat!). Although we probably should go to bed, we don’t, because we don’t like missing out on anything. Instead, we stalk Instagram, check facebook, tweet a couple of folks, surf, or turn on the good ole boob tube. These things stimulate us enough to keep us awake enough to not miss anything, but not relaxed enough to get the rest our body needs.
Like Ricky Bobby said in Talladega Nights, “I’m not sure what to do with my hands?” we don’t know how to stay still. We rarely sit that still – and as soon as we do, we want to be entertained. Normally, that includes food. Again, if you want to prevent boredom eating, tackle #1 so you aren’t too tired to spend time exercising, tackle #2 so you aren’t craving food and work on #3 and limit your “still time” or learn how to control your hands – and your tongue. :)
Break the Cycle
Sadly, if we don’t break the cycle, the more we eat, the more depressed we get – and that fuels more lack of sleep, more stress and more boredom because we normally retreat. We also feel hopeless because we feel too far away from our goal. Instead of looking at why we eat crappier when we workout less, let’s look at why we eat better when we workout more.
When we workout, we work HARD to burn calories. Since just how hard we worked is fresh in our head, we are less likely to sabotage that work. The key is, it has to be a regular thing. It’s not like we can work hard last week and that be enough to make us want to protect last week’s investment. Muscle soreness, being in the gym, being around other inspiration people and sweating your butt off TODAY is what you need to help give you the motivation you need to eat right TODAY.
Sometimes, that feeling is enough to last you a couple of days – but once you’ve missed a bunch of days, forget it. We lose that connection between work and calories. It not real enough to us anymore. That’s also why it’s much harder to diet without exercise. Exercise is like your job and food is like your money. You’ll never be frugal with free money, but if you work hard for it, you’ll be a lot more cautious how you spend it. This is also why the work must be a little tough. When you work REALLY hard for something, you bet you’ll be a lot less likely to blow that hard work on a something silly. One, because you realize all the hard work you just did and, two, because you don’t want to do any more of that than you have too.
Let the People Speak
Here’s what others had to say about why they think they eat more when they workout less.
Alexie Elizabeth Messer I think it is because when we are working out we realize the effort we have out in that day and don’t want to ruin/negate it by over eating. In short we are just more conscious of our bodies when working out.
Patti Ambrosia McLean We figure might as well… Sadly we want instant results. Not possible
Robert Phoenix At heart we are hunters, gatherers & scavengers. Its deeply routed in our genetics. This is at odds with modern day living. We are programmed to search & forage for food. When we exercise we burn fat & calories. If we dont exercise insulin levels rise in the body to convert the excess food we eat into fat & store it, we become “insulin tolerant” & used to the rising levels of insulin & the body desires more food to counterract the increased insulin levels. We are also more likely to desire unhealthy foods as the insulin tolerance increases. Also mentality plays a big part. By saying “no” to specific foods you want them more so this doesn’t work well. The word “Diet” is overused & has become an instrinsic part of our vocabulary which is detrimental because it suggests to the body that we are “depriving” ourselves of food which makes the hunter/gatherer/scavenger inside us become a defense mechanism & make us want more food. I could go on…
Tamara Grand For me, the two go together. I’m more mindful of my body and how it feels when I’m exercising daily and the link between food and fuel is stronger!
Alex Cartwright Pretty sure it’s chemical…we aren’t getting the endorphin rush we’d receive from a good workout so we try to get it from food.
Tommy Arenas i work hard labor” then feel 2 tired 2 wrkout” sumtimz i just eat & crash”
Laurie Duncan It’s a survival mechanism.
Charise Charly McOmber I’d love to know. There are times when I can be right on target, never a slip. But I’ve gone through a period of swearing I’m going to make it today eating clean and then break every rule. I don’t get it.
Chris Nicodemus I disagree sorry , the More I Train the More I Eat, Like a Furnace Fueling the Fire
Amanda Marciniak Mazey did that today, I could not stop eating and couldn’t be bothered with working out, now I feel sick and yet even tho I’m not hungry feel the urge to eat
So, if you’re like me, you’re ready to get the weight off from the holidays, or maybe you need to lose a few pounds you’ve collected over the years. Either way, you’ve probably set some goals and are ready to get started – at least your brain is.
My brain says, “I am sick of feeling fat. I’m tired of clothes not fitting like I want them to fit. I’m tired of feeling tired and crappy. I’m tired of looking bad and feeling bad. I really love feeling fit and looking my best” And, although all those thoughts fill my head, which SHOULD motivate me to make a change, my body says “I DON’T WANNA!“.
Didn’t my body get the memo? Why is my body not fired up to get this fitness party started?! Well, I dug deep to uncover some of the reasons why I think our body is so slow to join our brain and begin to tackle our goals.
1. FAT PROBLEM
When we’re heavy, we’re sluggish and sometime even depressed. Our body is slow to respond to our brain’s desire to be fit because our body isn’t convinced it has what it takes to do what’s required. We know it will take work, and our body isn’t thrilled about it. We don’t even like the way we look in our workout clothes, which is another downer. If we don’t like what we see in the mirror, our knee-jerk reaction is to pout and hide. The more we hide and pout, the more depressed we get because our brain knows what to do, but our body isn’t ready to do it. Then we have to deal with guilt on top of fat.
SOLUTION: Our first mistake is thinking working out is an option. We can’t wait to “feel” like working out. We just have to start doing it, whether we feel like it or not. As we get in a routine, our body will begin to change and pep up. Exercise naturally improves our thoughts and fights depression. After a few days of regular exercise, our body will begin to look and feel better. The more comfortable we get in our skin, the more confident and extroverted we become. Once we start getting these results, they will keep us going after that.
2. PRIDE PROBLEM:
When we’ve been in better shape before, it’s easy to think people will notice how much we’ve slipped, and that is embarrassing. We know when we grab a set of dumbbells that we’ll probably have to lift lighter and not be able to go as hard as we once did. That too gives our pride another big hit.
SOLUTION: I hate to break it to you, nobody cares. Seriously, no one cares how much we lift or how fast we run. Most people won’t even notice what we’re doing. We are the only one that’s let down, so we have to get over it. Our body bounces back fast. If we were once very fit, but now we aren’t, our body will respond quickly – as long as we just get our butt to the gym and stay consistent. But if we want to succeed, we need to leave our pride at home.
3. ENERGY PROBLEM:
When we eat poorly and gain weight, we get lazy. We lack the energy to “feel” like working out – and laziness breeds more laziness, so the more we give into those lazy feelings, the worse we get.
SOLUTION: The first step to breaking the lazy cycle is eating healthy, low-calorie small meals. Smaller meals take less energy to digest, so we will have more energy to do other things (like exercise). Healthy fuel (food) also gives improves our energy levels and will power us through our workouts. Eating often (every 3 hours) keeps our metabolism up so we are more energized throughout the day. Once we get our fuel down, we can have better workouts – and the combination of the two will provide a powerhouse of energy.
4. TIRED PROBLEM:
While energy often stems from poor food choices, being tired may not have less to do with food and more to do with activity. Many people struggle with being too tired to workout, especially after a long hard day at work. When we are tired, we tend to be less active. We eat more, and drink more. The more we eat and drink, the more tired and stressed we become. We gain weight, which wears our body out, and we become more stressed, which wears us out even more. The added stress causes us to lose sleep. When we lose sleep, our body gets run down and we get sick more.
SOLUTION: Workouts with intense bursts of intensity boost both our mood and energy. Consistent challenging exercise improves sleep so we are more rested and energized through out the day. Exercise also helps relieve stress and release pinned up anger and frustrations. As our energy increases, so does our productivity. We will perform better at work and we’ll discover that the discipline in the gym will overflow in other parts of our lives. All in all, the one hour in the gym will improve how we spend the other 23 hours a day and we’ll be able to handle work, stress, hard labor and many other obstacles with much more ease.
5. BUSY PROBLEM:
We’re all busy, so it’s super easy to come up with a long list of responsibilities that get in the way of our workout. But, we can busy ourself right into the grave if we’re not careful.
SOLUTION: If we have a busy problem, we likely have a priority problem. We are “letting” our current life get in the way of our future life. We know what we want, but we aren’t prioritizing our schedule so that we get there. If we get better with managing our time, we can be better at managing our weight and workouts. Time management is a requirement for anyone who wants to get fit. We can’t just expect to have time left at the end of the day. We have to limit time we waste on other stuff and make time to invest in our future. We just need to make every minute count.
No matter what your problem is, the solution is the same. Just Show Up Anyway.
My Mantra Pic for DAY 4 of 30 Days of Motivation: