Why should you lift heavy weights

Why should you lift weights, but more importantly, why should you lift heavyweights? It can be so profound in not only your physical strength, but also your mental and emotional strength. Strength training can help improve your self-awareness, your confidence, your overall ability to create, to explore, to move through the world differently, and in a way that you are more resilient. You have better adaptability to change, stress, and loads. It can have a profound difference on your overall well-being.

Let’s dive into eight ways that lifting heavy can improve your health. 

1. Confidence

Lifting heavy weights has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression, and improve self-awareness and confidence. When you are lifting heavy and you are strong, you are going to move through the world differently. If you haven’t tried it, and you know someone that has, take a look at them and ask them about their experience with strength training and you will find the same thing. 

2. Increasing power and muscle mass

When you are strength training you are increasing your muscle mass. Many women will say that they want to get “toned.” In essence, that is increasing muscle mass. When we are stronger, that means that we can produce more force and we’re able to adapt to different loads more effectively. You will find that moving a heavy box or moving a couch is much easier because you have generated the ability, over time, to adapt to these loads and forces. 

3. Burn fat

We often think about burning calories. You’ll jump on the elliptical or go for a run and you’re  thinking about how many calories you’ll burn during that session, for example. Instead, we want to be thinking about burning fat, and also burning calories well beyond that particular exercise session. This does not mean that cardiovascular activity is bad. It just means that we can get a ton of benefit from strength training well after the actual session. After a session, our body still has to continue to repair the muscle, and it’s still burning energy. Therefore, we’re burning more calories and fat after an exercise session than we are in an aerobics session, for example, that we’re only doing that in that particular session. 

4. Increase in muscle size, i.e. hypertrophy

For each pound of muscle we have, we’re going to burn an additional six to 10 calories per day just for it to maintain itself. This can be powerful in fat loss. This is the reason you want to start strength training early. So, if you have kids that are just getting into fitness you want them to start strength training early because it can have a profound impact on their bodies later in life. This is because the more muscle they gain, over the years, the better their metabolism is going to be and the more muscle mass they’re going to have. It can be so powerful to start early in life, but it’s never too late. 

5. Improved bone density 

This is one of the most powerful things that we can do for our bone health. If you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, please don’t hesitate to start a strength training program. Of course, you also want to prevent these things. Strength training can help our bone mass as we age, to prevent things like fractures and things that can completely impact our quality of life. 

6. Fight aging

Each decade after the age of 35, we are losing anywhere from 3-10% of our lean body mass. However, if we are lifting heavy weights we can preserve that lean body mass and even reverse some muscle loss. 

7. Improve our brain health

Lifting heavy weights can increase our growth hormone which can help with cognitive processing and function. It can help to decrease the cognitive changes that we may experience as we age. 

8. Improve our resilience

It can help us to decrease and prevent injuries by improving the adaptability of our tissues. We’re loading tissues so that we can become more resilient. In life, we constantly have to load and stress our tissues for them to remain healthy, strong, and elastic. If we don’t load them properly that’s when we begin to get into an injury cycle. So one of the most important things to preventing injury is lifting weights and specifically heavyweights. 

Hopefully, this was enough to get you started lifting weights if you’re not already and if you are please continue on that journey and remember to keep challenging yourself. You don’t want to do the same weights over and over again because you want your body continues to adapt to new stresses. Make sure that you’re challenging yourself with heavier weights and variability.

This goes without saying, but make sure not to add fitness on top of dysfunction. Get your movement patterns assessed and cleaned up before you start to load heavy.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR BELLY FAT

Do you have abdominal fat that you just cannot seem to get rid of? You’ve tried different nutrition plans and exercise programs, and it just won’t budge. You also know that there is a lot of risk of having abdominal weight gain, but you’re just not sure what to do about it. Although you may not want to hear this, abdominal weight gain is linked to high cortisol levels, which is one of our key stress hormones that is released during the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, our stress pathway. When we have chronic stress, we have chronic cortisol release, among other stress hormones that are linked to abdominal weight gain, obesity, and increased visceral and subcutaneous fat.

There are two types of fat that we’ll see in the abdominal region, one of which is subcutaneous fat, and two is visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat produces helpful hormones, one of which is leptin which suppresses your appetite and helps to burn fat. Two is adiponectin which helps regulate fats and sugars.  So, if there’s any increased abdominal fat, then this will impact the production and function of these hormones. The visceral fat will be found around the liver, intestines, other organs, and even underneath the abdominal wall. An interesting thing about visceral fat is that the more visceral fat you have, the harder and thicker it becomes. It becomes denser, so that’s when you may feel that your stomach feels hard and not as elastic as it once did. This of course can increase inches to your waistline. In addition to that, you also have increased cytokines in your visceral fat. There are more cytokines in the visceral fat than there are in subcutaneous fat. These proteins are linked to low-level inflammation and inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases. Lastly, it also releases more retinol-binding protein, which will contribute to more insulin resistance.

Based on research, having increased abdominal fat is linked to colorectal cancer, dementia, asthma, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Just remember that abdominal weight gain does not discriminate among genders. So, men and women both can get abdominal weight gain. Women are more susceptible to it after they’ve gone through menopause because their estrogen levels have decreased, which is linked to high cortisol levels over time and chronic activation of the stress pathway.

Now, what can you do about it?

1) Stress management: This could include practicing mindfulness, meditation, journaling, speaking to a counselor, and trying to be aware of your responses during your day to day actions of life. We cannot get rid of stress, but we can learn how to respond to our stressors more effectively. We can respond with clarity and creativity, rather than reacting. When we can begin to do this we can shift our nervous system into a state of more social engagement, safety, a grounded, mindful state rather than in a fight or flight or freeze state.

2) Anti-inflammatory diet: This can be very challenging for many people. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is filled with processed, high sugar, high fat foods. Aim to have a diet low in sugar, processed foods, and try to eat more clean and natural whole foods.

3) Exercise. First, determine what level of exercise is appropriate for you. If you are in a state of chronic stress, then doing high-intensity interval training is not appropriate because that is also a stressor that can put you into a state of complete overload. Identify the appropriate level of exercise, be consistent with your exercise, and remember that exercise is not the same as movement. We exercise 30 minutes a day, but we should be moving all day long. We should be consistently increasing our movement levels, which means sitting for no more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time before we get up and move our bodies. Our bodies are meant to move, they crave movement, and if we don’t do it, we lose it.

4) Sleep. Sleep is more important than nutrition and exercise combined. Aim for seven to nine hours a night.  But, It’s not only about how much sleep you’re getting but it’s about the quality of sleep you’re getting. How much REM and deep sleep are you getting? Are you giving yourself enough time to down-regulate your nervous system before you go to sleep, are you using your phone up late at night or watching TV and stimulating your nervous system as opposed to calming it down and preparing for a restoration process? If you are chronically sleep deprived, this will increase the stress response in your body and contribute to weight gain, specifically around the mid-section.

Good luck in addressing your abdominal weight gain, i.e. stress belly.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

What is stress doing to your weight loss goals? I Hormones

Did you know that stress can significantly affect your ability to lose weight? I wish weight loss was as simple as “eat less and exercise more.” However, many of you have probably experienced weight loss resistance despite doing all of the things that you should be doing from a nutritional, stress management, and movement standpoint. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are always ways to continue to improve your health. But why do some of us struggle to lose those extra stubborn pounds?

There are multiple reasons why this could happen, some of which include changes in the microbiome,  leaky gut, which can affect your ability to absorb nutrients, inflammation which can result from food, toxins, bugs, trauma, and hormone dysregulation. That is what we’re going to focus on today. Here are four hormones that can be interfering with your weight loss.

  1. Insulin

As it relates to hormones, the number one offender is going to be insulin, no doubt about it. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas. It signals to your body to absorb glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream and turn it into fat. It is referred to as the “fat storing hormone, because it can shut down the metabolic burning. This is why high blood sugar and high insulin levels make it harder to lose weight. Therefore, it can contribute to chronic disease, excess weight gain, and excess fat storage. Increased caloric intake, stress, weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), genetics, hypertension, Polycysytic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) among others can contribute to insulin resistance.

2. Thyroid

One in five women and one in 10 men have been diagnosed with thyroid disease. However, about 50 percent of the cases go undiagnosed primarily because the testing is insufficient for really looking at a complete picture of the thyroid. Most often, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is checked. However, there is also a free T3, free T4, Thyrogobulin Aibodies (TgAb), Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies(TPOAb), and sometimes reverse T3 to really get an entire picture. Some of the things that can contribute to thyroid disease are gluten intolerance, stress, and environmental toxins, which are huge contributors including any type of nutrient deficiency.

3. Cortisol

This is one of our biggest stress hormones. When we are under stress or we have a perceived threat or stressor, we activate the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis (HPA axis). This is our stress pathway in our body. Our amygdala in our limbic system detects this perceived threat. A physiological response is mediated through the hypothalamus triggering the pituitary gland by secreting corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH). The pituitary gland in our brain secretes adrenal corticotropic hormone (ACTH) into the bloodstream to signal the adrenal glands, which sit right on top of the kidneys. The adrenal glands then in turn release glucocorticoids, such as cortisol. When this happens in the case of running from a tiger that is a normal response, it’s a survival mechanism. The problem starts when we have this stress response all the time. This is when it can lead to things like weight gain, insulin resistance, loss of lean body mass, increased fat storage, and the higher propensity for any kind of inflammatory condition, autoimmune disease, or chronic conditions. Therefore, it’s really important to understand how this stress pathway, when under chronic stress, affects your ability to lose weight or not. Keep this in mind that it could be a ding on a phone or it could be running from a tiger, if you’re having the same response all the time, then that pathway is constantly activated, which means cortisol is constantly being released.

4. Sex Hormones

Many women can experience things like breast tenderness, heavy menstrual bleeding, fibroids, weight gain, fluid gain, and bloating. This can all be largely in part due to a high sugar diet and a highly refined carbohydrate diet, as well as environmental toxins and stress of course, contributing to increased estrogen dominance in the body. Now men on the other hand can also experience this and they might notice things like increased breast tissue and abdominal weight gain. This also can factor into if men have low testosterone. In this case they might have sexual dysfunction, poor libido, brain fog, inability to concentrate, bone loss, and weight gain.

There are many ways to naturally balance hormones that apply to all of the above. First and most importantly is decreasing stress!  As you can see, this is one of the consistent hormone disruptors in weight loss. Finding ways to manage your stress through meditation, journaling, nature, walking, talking with friends, or simply whatever helps you the most. Other very important things to consider include:

  1. Balance your blood sugars
  2. Include a protein, healthy fat, and fiber source in each meal and snack.
  3. Eat a high-quality protein source at EVERY meal
  4. Eat every 4-6 hours (unless hungry)
  5. Consume healthy fats
  6. AVOID sugar and refined carbohydrates! This can’t be stressed enough.
  7. Limit or eliminate alcohol
  8. Avoid undereating or overeating
  9. Eat fatty fish (Salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel) as often as possible
  10. Get enough high-quality sleep

Summary

The take home message is this. I want you to understand that stress plays a huge role in your ability to lose weight, if that is your goal. It is really important to understand how mindset, mindfulness, stress reduction, and relaxation are all so vital to an overall health program. It is way more than just losing weight, it is about feeling healthy inside and outside. To do that you really need to focus on managing your stress. The ways that you can do that are through basic informal mindfulness practices, formal meditation, breath work, grounding with your feet, walking out in nature, etc. There are so many ways to just take time for you and take time to really manage your stress levels because, as you can see it directly impacts all of these aspects of your health and your immunity.

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

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