Over Exercise Overeating Pattern
I used to think of exercise as tortuous and mandatory to obtain the body I’ve always wanted. The problem was, exercise would amp up my appetite and make it difficult for me curb my eating at the same time. I wasn’t losing the weight I wanted, so I would increase the intensity or length of my workouts. I didn’t realize it was also increasing my appetite and driving me to uncontrollable moments of hunger where I had little to no self-control over eating. Plus, I would think “I deserve this, I’ve worked so hard!” and would dive into something delicious without realizing I was caught in an unhelpful over-exercise, over-eating pattern.
Increased exercise, overall, would help me lose some weight, but eventually I would get stuck on a weight plateau and go no further in my weight loss goals. After trying P90X, running 10+ miles a week, and mixing in 30-minute jump rope sessions, I just didn’t have it in me to give more time or effort with a life to live outside of exercise. This was the time and effort I had to give, and it wasn’t getting me where I wanted to go. I was completely frustrated. I was already working hard but the benefits were not outweighing the work; I was outweighing the work. It was completely demoralizing and the only thing it made me want to do was give up.
I was told two pieces of information that would eventually come together in my own mind in a helpful way.
#1. I was told I needed to curb my eating while exercising.
This blew my mind and seemed impossible at the time of my heavy workout regimen. But, eventually it led me to the conclusion: If I must curb my eating while continuing to exercise, I will need to not work out as strenuously. This would minimize the moments where my appetite becomes voracious and proper portion size difficult to maintain. It started to dawn on me, weight loss could be doable, but it might take more time than forcing a long run and hoping for somewhat immediate results.
#2. I learned: the average, empty, un-distended stomach is approximately the size of a fist!
This information sat with me unused for a long time. Something started to shift when I began thinking of my stomach as a container for food. If I had a Tupperware container to put leftovers in, I wouldn’t be able to force in more than what naturally fits. Although the stomach can stretch to hold grand portions when forced, what if I started honoring the natural size of my stomach and consciously limiting my portions sizes to its natural limit? This would give me more of a logical, practical, and stable parameter for eating. No longer would the amount I eat depend on how I was feeling emotionally that day or on how good something tasted.
Reducing my workout regimen to a more enjoyable and maintainable level helps me keep my appetite (and weight) in check, by reducing the moments where I am voraciously hungry and unable to stick to a logical portion size. I can keep at a happy weight while I maintain a pleasant workout rhythm that works with my life. This is now a win-win.