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Is high-intensity exercise a good idea?

A few years ago, I was in the middle of my high-intensity exercise at the box where I was training at the time.

Something felt different about that workout.  My body just wasn’t responding.  I felt lethargic and off.  

I was so fatigued. I couldn’t finish the workout.   

My fitness level had been gradually declining despite my consistency with healthy habits and working out, but this was a turning point.  

I started becoming not able to finish the workouts.  And if I did finish them, I felt awful.  

On top of which, despite my eating clean and consistently training, I wasn’t progressing or improving.  Quite the opposite – I was getting worse.  I felt weaker and less fit.  

I felt so tired.  

And I wanted to know why.  I was doing all the right things – why wasn’t it working?

When I got my hands on the correct functional lab tests, I learned that I had multiple health issues taking a serious toll on my body.  These issues were causing me to feel tired all the time and were why I didn’t have the energy for my workouts.  

I learned I was harming my health. I would continue to push my body at high intensities; while I had those health issues

Is high-intensity exercise a good idea?

The answer: YES.  

But not always.  

I am a huge advocate for women exercising in a way that you enjoy.  Whether that’s Peloton, running, group fitness, walking, Orange Theory, triathlons, CrossFit, obstacle course races – if it gets you moving your body and makes you happy, then-girlfriend, I support you.  

I am a CrossFitter. I work out at high intensities, and I LOVE it.

Few things empower me with confidence and happiness-inducing brain chemistry like barbell-lifting and high-intensity training.  

Maybe you love working out at high intensity too.  So please know: I am not telling you to stop working out at high intensity. 

What I am saying is that exercising at high intensity when you are already tired all the time may not be the best thing for your body.  

What I am saying is that listening to your body is super important.  

Once you discover the underlying reason, you feel tired all the time and overcome it. You can open the throttle again in a way that is healthy and aligned.

Exercise is a source of stress on the body.

High-intensity exercise is stressful on the body.  That’s the whole idea behind it.  

When you’re healthy and have a strong stress-adaptive reserve, the stress of exercise will cause positive adaptations, including outcomes like improved fitness, endurance, and strength.  #gainz

When you have a chronic health issue, such as food sensitivities or bacterial overgrowth in your digestive system, that chronic health issue is also causing a stress response in your body.  

The human body’s stress response is the same, regardless of the stimulus.  If your manager irritates you, a shark bumps your board while you’re surfing, you have a parasitic pathogen in your digestive system, or you’re cut off in traffic, the physiology of stress is the same.  

If you’re struggling with your workouts in a way that doesn’t feel right, if you don’t have the energy to finish workouts in a way that isn’t normal for you, or if you’re just tired all the time, it could be that something else is causing stress in your body.  As a result, you don’t have the physiological adaptive capacity for high-intensity exercise at this time.  

An investigation will be critical for finding the underlying reason why your energy level is so low.  

In the meantime, listen to your body.  Sometimes it isn’t mental toughness that you need; sometimes, it’s self-compassion and rest that you need.  

Once you investigate the real reason your body is resisting your training, you can fix those issues and get back to going hard.  


Optimal is possible.  


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