The key to dropping a few kilos? Exercise less, not more!

I don’t know about you but if I had an important event looming that I wanted to look good for I’d up my exercise regime and work out fast and furious. The result?? Not what I’d expect – in fact, sometimes the scales would even show an extra pound or two!  

I’ve got years of experience under my belt – the very belt that won’t go down a notch of two when I exercise super-hard. I’ve had to conclude that less is indeed more.

Over time, I’ve noticed two things. Firstly, I am far more successful at maintaining my desired weight when I don’t work out every day. Secondly, incorporating less intense workouts (gone are my boot camp and circuits days) suits me better. In my 50th year, I am more trim and toned than ever before.

So, how can this be?

Well, there can be such a thing as too much exercise.  Being a typical Type A person, I’d attack my exercise regime in the way I did everything else – putting my heart and soul into it and working out as hard as I possibly could. I’d literally run myself into the ground with 45-minute long circuits or spinning classes. Add to that, the daily stressors from my corporate job, it’s no wonder I was depleting my already-exhausted body.

Subsequently, every couple of months, I would fall sick. I’d get the shivers, my body would ache, and I would need to spend a whole day in bed wallowing under my duvet. I had no idea just how much stress I was putting on my body and adrenals. I was exhausting my body, lowering my immune system and, I now realise, slowing down my metabolism.

My body felt like it was under threat. So, it went into survival mode. In its ‘fight or flight’ state, it decided to put the brakes on and store fat rather than burn it, in case I might need it at a later date.

To get health benefits, you actually only need to work out at intensity for 3 minutes, according to research.

I find that doing a 4 or 5-minute burst of a mixture of burpees, press ups, and jumps before breakfast gives me a cracking start to the day. Any grogginess upon waking has no chance of lingering!

A gentler regime in between shorter higher-intensity workouts is much better for me.

In case you feel the same, here’s a snapshot of my exercise regime:

Monday – 20 minute jog (walk if my body is feeling tired) with some interval sprinting

Tuesday – yoga

Wednesday – 7 minute HIT exercise workout (short bursts of high energy exercise)

Thursdays – day off!!

Friday – pilates

Saturday – run or a home mini exercise circuit that includes weights and high intensity cardio sich as jumping jacks, dynamic lunges, mountain climbers  burpees and push ups.

Sunday – swim/walk/ football in the park with my son (I’m not very good!) or an extra day off.

And no more days in bed feeling sick and exhausted.

So, spread the good news: in today’s busy world, you don’t need to spend hours at the gym working out hard to be healthy.

Give it a whirl and see if a ‘less is more’ approach works for you. Fewer days in the gym could mean fewer sick days and a waistline to be proud of. It’s worth a try!

A less active but leaner and lighter

Alison Middleton



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