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Does your workout match your metabolism?


If you've worked with me, you know I specialize in creating metabolically appropriate nutrition and workout plans. Because I struggled with my own weight and metabolism for so many years of my young adult life,, I want to make the process easy and accessible for my clients. 

My Specialty Is Creating Metabolically Appropriate

Nutrition & Workout Plans

When I was 21 years old, I started running because a friend challenged me to train for a marathon with her. I thought it was a great way to lose the 15 lbs I had gained after moving to the States. I started with 30 minute runs a few times a week and really liked how I felt. I loved exploring new neighborhoods, getting up early to do something for myself before work. I felt great afterwards and loved how my body was changing. 

Then, I had to ramp up my mileage and someone suggested I eat more carbs because I needed the fuel. I started eating bagels and rice, cereal and bread. I was running 2 hours on the weekend and started to feel terrible. My mood was fluctuating, I was always always hungry and I craved sweets every night after a big dinner. I had terrible IBS, acne and mood swings.

I couldn’t understand why my pants were getting tighter. After all, I was just following what I was reading in running magazines. I felt lethargic most of the day. All in all, it was not much fun, but i managed to finish the marathon with a terrible time. 

I know I’m not alone with this story

I work with lots of women who come to me with similar challenges: crazy appetite, muscle loss, flabbiness, weight gain in unusual places, hormonal changes, thyroid issues, getting sick often, low energy, sugar cravings, mood swings, lack of performance improvement. 

If you start to exercise in the hopes of using it for weight loss, then get ready for a surprise. Yes, exercise is fantastic when you do it right, but it only accounts for about 5-15% of your daily metabolic expenditure. A lot of people approach it all wrong.  They choose the most intense workout or the one with the biggest promises (burn 1,000 calories a class!) and throw themselves into a 5 or 7-day a week workout program. The results roll in at first, but then the results stall and you deal with the usual issues: increased appetite, flabbiness, sugar cravings, poor sleep, digestive issues - you name it. 

When I trained to become a Personal Trainer, I was taught that you have to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of body fat. Naturally, you want to put all your clients on cardio programs and have them restrict their calories.  That was a long time ago and thank goodness we now know that it's not all about calories, but fat loss is about creating the right hormonal balance. 

Here's the reality...

Guess why so many women are drawn towards Crossfit, Running, Running, Spinning and HIIT workouts? They promise you a massive calorie burn. But, why is it then that many women who have started doing Crossfit or Spinning get bigger instead of leaner, and flabbier instead of tighter?  


#1 Workouts have to match your metabolism. If your body is in a state of stress from excessive exercise, dieting, sleep deprivation, emotional stress, physical stress, etc. and you put yourself through stress-inducing workouts, such as Crossfit and Peloton or long-distance running, you are jacking up stress hormones even more. Stress hormones will at first make you lose fat, but if they are triggered constantly, they lead to fat storage and the symptoms I've described above. They can create metabolic damage. 

The result: fat storage, exhaustion, intense hunger for carbs and sugar cravings. Even worse, if you don’t head those initial signs, you can expect to see some more severe issues, such as digestive disorders, mood disorders, thyroid dysfunction, immune system breakdown, auto-immune diseases, leaky gut, hormonal issues, such as irregular periods or infertility, among others. 

When you are noticing the signs of stress, you need to reduce the stress by backing off the frequency of these workouts, duration, and/or choose a different and more appropriate workout. For example, if you spin 5 days a week and notice the stress effects, go back to 2x a week and add 2 days of strength training with lots of relaxed walking and good sleep. 

Adding more calming exercise, such as yoga once a week, lower intensity cardio, such as biking or walking or hiking, along with more balance in nutrition, sleep and other lifestyle hacks will allow you to see fat loss.


#2 Your workout has to produce changes. So many people continue to push themselves into a certain type of workout even though they don’t see their body change. If your body gets leaner, stronger and fitter, keep at it. If you find yourself stalling, you may have to switch the frequency and intensity of your workout or even the type of workout.

#3 You have to train, not work out. You want to approach training from a perspective of wanting to get better at something. You start with the basics, master them, and then progress. You start with short and simple workouts a few times a week and when you’re ready to progress, you add to it with either intensity, more weight, greater frequency or longer duration. It all depends on your goals. But, the key is not to go from zero to 100 and expect your body to continue to adapt. Going from 0 to 100 may produce results initially, but you will crash and burn because you can’t go beyond 100. 

#4 You have to assess and modify. A workout needs to give you the desired outcome. If it doesn’t, you want to change your approach. Yes, of course, it takes time for changes to be visible. You can expect it takes a good 3 months for your body to go from flab to muscular because you not only have to build the muscle, but also burn off the body fat covering it. 

#5 Your workout has to match your goals. If your goal is to build lean muscle, but all you do is run, then you’ve chosen the wrong workout. Distance running creates muscle loss. Short and intense sprints will however create muscle growth, especially in the lower body.  If you want to get a firmer butt, but never squat or do donkey kicks and only do cardio, you won't get firm glutes. If you want to lose weight and are in menopause and start long-distance running, chances are you’ll get even heavier because the long runs are too stress-inducing for your current metabolism.

What does that mean for me?

Here are a few examples of how your workout needs to match your metabolism:

New Mom: A new mom's hormones make her stress-sensitive, which means she should choose a strength training program focused restoring the post-pregnancy muscles, pelvic floor and core 2-3x a week, along with long relaxed walks to reduce stress hormones. Breastfeeding hormones block fat loss, so it's key to implement specific nutrition strategies to rebalance hormones. Cutting out sugar is key to fat loss, while eliminating dairy is key to minimize external hormones, along with reducing the intake of grains, to name just a few key steps.

Menopause/Peri-menopause: When estrogen and progesterone start to fluctuate widely during peri-menopause, the body moves into a more stress-sensitive and carb-sensitive period. This calls for protein-focused meals paired with fibrous veggies and a reduction in sugar and starches. A focus on strength training 2-3x a week, along with long and relaxed walks is key to avoid the dreaded spare tire of menopause. 2-3 short HIIT workouts (10-20 minutes max) can help maintain insulin sensitivity and muscle mass.

A stressed metabolism (as result of long-standing physical or emotional stress) that's non-responsive to the conventional diet and exercise approach: When the conventional methods no longer achieve a response because of a stressed metabolism, the most important step is to rebalance stress hormones and allow the nervous system to go out of fight-or-flight mode into calm mode.

Workouts need to be non-stress inducing, allow for muscle growth and recovery, along with relaxed walking. Nutritionally, an approach that allows the metabolism to recognize there's balance behind it, will further shift the metabolism into calm mode/fat loss mode. Additional life style strategies that allow the adrenal glands to recover, such as meditation, hot/cold showers, massages, deep breathing, sauna sessions are daily musts to see full recovery. Most importantly, the mindset of 'more is better' is often behind this Type A personality's metabolic challenges.

My new Slim & Strong Mom program covers nutrition, exercise, hormone rebalancing and discusses the life-changing changes that motherhood brings with it.



Starting April 11, 2022


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