Get Off the Treadmill (& Say No to Calorie Counting)

It’s a fair observation that many people who do intense aerobic exercise just because they want to burn calories and lose weight often don’t really lose much weight – or if they do, it’s never for that long. Do you know anyone like this? Always exercising and on the “health” treadmill, but finding long-term physical transformation elusive?

It’s also fair to say that lots of people who want to lose weight assume that there is no point in practising Yoga since it won’t burn as many calories as an intense aerobic workout.But, that said, it is also a fair assessment to say that most long-term Yoga practitioners tend not to have weight (or food) issues and are on the slimmer side.

How so?

It’s a hard thing to get your head around, but last week, a new student told me that after our class earlier on in the week, he had not felt like eating anything other than salad and fruit when he got home. That’s exactly what his body was craving.

And this is the crux of it.

What do you crave sometimes after an intense workout? From personal experience, I know that I have justified eating stodgier, heavier food many times after a lot of “puffy” exercise. It’s not even always rational! I just want it and I can’t talk myself out of it.

This never happens to me post Yoga practise though, and as it’s my main form of activity and a big part of my life, I tend not to not be drawn towards stodgy food or over-eating most of the time.

Here’s how it works:

Hyperventilation (which often happens during a more intense aerobic- style workout) creates blood alkalinity which, among other things (and not many of them good things over the long term) can cause us to feel extra hungry and also, sometimes, a little bit “edgy”, anxious or hyper-sensitive.

Food – particularly, the stodgy, heavy, protein or carb rich kind – is acid forming. Eating will quickly calm the nervous system and means your physiology is able to balance the blood Ph. In fact, there’s a fair chance that the majority of non-diabetic people who believe they suffer from low blood sugar (hypo-glycemia) – which is actually extremely rare – are probably just over-breathing out of habit, or because of stress and food makes them feel better.

On the other hand, even a more dynamic or flowing Yoga practise (ideally) encourages slower, longer breaths and less of them per minute. Less breathing – hypoventilation – creates a bit of blood acidity. We’ve been lead to believe this is bad perhaps, but actually, a little bit of blood acidity helps us to feel calmer (just like the dodgy food can). Because we feel calmer post “Yoga” activity and more relaxed, we are far less likely to be in a hurry to eat and when we do eat, we will usually be drawn towards lighter more alkaline foods. Again, this is our body doing its thing to maintain a balanced Ph.

Make sense? Sometimes, it’s not a weight problem per se, it’s a mind shift. If we really want long-term transformation, we should probably stop taking on board all the marketing blurbs associated with gyms and weight-loss exercise programs. Seriously! The pitch never changes does it?: YOU ARE SERIOUSLY NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

Realistically, it’s only athletes who train for more than three hours per day who burn a significant amount of calories. For the rest of us with an hour or so to spare 3-5 times per week, we quickly replace what we just burned. To me it seems rather a waste of a short life to be continually over-thinking this stuff rather than moving for joy and eating for health. Wouldn’t you agree?

I don’t want to feel guilty and not-quite-good-enough all the time. I’ve been there and it wasn’t fun. But I can tell you this: the seas didn’t run dry when I left it all behind. I simply got my mind back!

Why not opt to do do things that are healthy and nourishing? To treat yourself with respect and love? Not just on a physical level, but on a mental and emotional level?

The nervous system is our best friend and something to really look after being that it operates and maintains our entire system – organs, skin, cells, hormones, digestion….all those things we need to remain young, juicy and functional.

What is sustainable? If this is how you have lived life for years – obsessed with food, calories and doing exercise that you don’t really care for that potentially damages your body – wouldn’t it be nice to be able to focus on and enjoy other things?

Long term transformation is possible with a more Yogic lifestyle. Beautiful movement, relaxation and mindfulness. A focus on working-in as opposed to working-out.