The Truth About No Pain No Gain

Today I’m tackling a great weight loss question someone asked me on Facebook. I usually answer questions on the spot if they can be answered in one to two sentences. But some inspire articles! Today I’m answering a question about pain versus gain and what is appropriate for weight loss.

Scott asked:

Let’s say you run a mile and it’s a real workout. It’s painful. Let’s say you keep at (it) so that running a mile becomes easy. To continue to lose weight, can you do that by simply continuing to run one mile? Or do you need to up the ante to two miles? In other words, is exercise only beneficial when it hurts? They say “No pain. No gain.” is that real?

Can you hit a weight loss plateau?

Let’s use Scott’s example. In the beginning, running the mile is more challenging for the body. There are two reasons- you weigh more and it’s something new. At first your body uses a lot more energy. Over time your body will become lighter and more efficient at running a mile, and will burn less calories. This is when people typically see a “plateau” in their weight loss efforts.

So, to answer Scott’s question — if further weight loss is desired, adding another mile would be beneficial for continued weight loss. It would continue to challenge the body’s endurance.

No exercise should ever be painful!

There’s a difference between pain and stepping out of your comfort zone. You should never feel pain when you exercise! Pain is your body telling you to stop what you are doing and find out what’s wrong. It’s not uncommon to feel a twinge from time to time while exercising. However, after two weeks of repetitive pain while exercising, go see your doctor.

You’ve definitely over-trained if you experience muscle soreness for more than two to three days, poor sleep, or prolonged fatigue (being super sluggish the next day). If any of this occurs, reduce the intensity or amount of time you perform the activity.

Feeling sick to your stomach is over training as well and means you need to back off the throttle. If you actually throw up and a trainer tells you that’s normal, I suggest you find a new trainer. For the average exerciser, pushing yourself to the point of puking is not only dangerous, it’s unnecessary!

Cross training is key!

Unless your goal is to be a marathon runner, adding more and more time to your exercise routine is probably unrealistic. The best way to keep the body “on it’s toes” is to cross train. Adding interval workouts two days — but no more than three days per week to your routine — will challenge the body without over training. The other days should be used for more “steady” or moderate workouts to allow recovery time. Too much over training can actually slow down your metabolism!

Burn more calories!

Change the activity to burn more calories — for example, run two days a week, then add a swim orΒ  spin class. Cross training also prevents injury by avoiding too much repetitive motion from a single activity. Another great way to cross train is with lifestyle activity such as outdoor sports or chores that require physical exertion.

If walking is your thing, cross train by adding hills or stairs to your routine.

Slow and steady wins the race!

Any exercise routine that is safe for your body and performed consistently is beneficial. It helps build cardiovascular and muscular endurance as well as a steady weekly burn of calories. You are better off doing a twenty minute routine most days of the week than a one hour “hard core” workout sporadically.

As you get more fit, you will want to challenge your body in a safe and fun way! Remember, this is about maintaining your health and weight loss for life. Adjustments are normal.

Please let me know if you have a question about your routine, or a comment you would like to share. I love to hear from you!

Blessings to you and yours!


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