Exercising Less Exercise and Salted “Banoffee” Brioche

by Eden on January 4, 2012

I rarely discuss exercise much on this blog.
Exercise and I have a shaddy history. I love it and hate it. But I’ve noticed many people asking me about it so I thought I’d just weigh in on how I feel about exercise after many years of exercise addiction.
Its a popular belief that you must exercise daily or you won’t maintain a healthy weight. Many believe that exercise (typically an excessive level) is necessary. Meaning doing it every day. Or else…dun dun dun!
You may feel compelled to exercise for fear that your jeans won’t fit the next day (um hello, thats what pajama jeans are for!).
Or that the scale you so rely on will show the damage and then you’ll restrict your food intake to make up for the missed workout.
All of that is a myth. I’m not a doctor but here’s what I do know that might ease you mind:
Your body burns calories 24/7: Yes, even while you’re farting and sleeping. Sure, you use more calories when you’re active. But even at rest, doing absolutely nothing but breathing, you need fuel! Even if you’re bedridden, you need calories. Maybe even more when you’re sick because your body has to fight a disease. Chill out already!
Over exercise is pointless:  Eating significantly fewer calories than you’re expending is no different than if you didn’t exercise at all and severely restricted your food intake. And both are messed up. Your metabolism will slow, meaning that your calorie need per day will drop (requiring fewer and fewer calories). And if you’re trying to build muscle, forget it! Your body (desperate for fuel) will try to use any available calories just to function.  And no. A low calorie protein shake won’t remedy that.
I’m not going to snark at exercise without giving some solutions. So for me, following these recommendations from my therapist helped:
  •  Stop over exercising. Look, there is no set “rest day” maximum. Take one, two, a week, however much time you need to rest, REST! I took a whole month of doing NOTHING. No walks, no yoga, nothing! Result: no weight change. Trust me, you won’t turn into the Grimace.I always thought he was kinda cute


  •  Set a limit on the time spent at the gym. And, on your total workout time, if it is becoming   obsessive. Start by reducing the total workout time by 15 or 20 minutes., even every other day to start.
  •  Observe that you have survived without your feared weight change (I promise, it won’t change drastically if at all).
  •  Focus on the enjoyment of exercise. choose activities you truly enjoy.
  •  Remember that you still need to fuel yourself, whether you may feel inactive and undeserving, or you are biking and hear the call for ice cream or brioche (see recipe below) ;)
How many times a week do you exercise? Do you like it? (be honest!) Whats your relationship with exercise? Most importantly, WHY do you do it (weight, “health”, etc).
And here’s a brioche recipe I scaled down so you won’t have like 50 brioche rolls around. I also added a vital wheat gluten for a protein boost (I LOATHE protein powder!). Its not a “traditional” brioche recipe (I wanted it to be kind of like “banoffee pie hybrid).
  • 1/2 package dry yeast (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3 tbs cup warm milk (100° to 110°)
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (if you want a higher protein one, use 1 cup flour and 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten)
  • 2 tbs light brown sugar (sorry, no substitutes. Trust me, you wont go into diabetic shock)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 bananas (cut into 6 chunks each)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 large egg white
  • salted caramel sauce (I use the trader joes or you can make your own with this great recipe)

1. Dissolve yeast in warm milk in the bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Add flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt, and eggs to milk mixture; beat with a mixer at low speed until smooth. Start to knead the dough for 5-10 minutes or until the dough is soft and elastic

2. Cut butter into large cubes and add half of butter to dough, and knead them into the dough to blend. Add remaining half of butter to dough until incorporated. Knead for a few more minuets until smooth and elastic.

3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°) for about 45 min until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; form into a ball.

4. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), cut dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 1 1/2-inch ball and insert a chunk of banana inside. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions to make 12 rolls total. Place rolls in muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size. ( I know, lots of “rising” but its so worth it)

3. Preheat oven to 350°.

4. Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg; stir with a whisk. Gently brush rolls with egg mixture. Bake at 350° for 14 minutes or until golden. Place pans on wire racks. Spoon over the caramel sauce.

And after all that kneading, you won’t need to workout anyhow. But at least you have these to refuel.

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Maxime January 5, 2012 at 2:45 am

I go for a run twice a week, do yoga a couple of times a week and I like to go for a walk, it started out as a way to burn calories but now I do it for my mental health, I just need it to keep my sane, I’m studying for my exams at the moment and I just go bunkers if I have to spend to many days looked up in my room cramming stuff into my head, so I even like the ‘ I’m almost dying part’ when I’m running at the moment ;) those brioches look amazing!


Kari @ bite-sized thoughts January 5, 2012 at 2:51 am

I exercise pretty much every day, but some days not very intensely. I really do enjoy it but always cringe a little when I read about rest days, especially as I know my fitness would benefit from taking them. However, I don’t exercise daily for weight – truly – but rather to keep my mood steady. The bottom line is that I’d rather have a 30 minute walk over a rest day and feel happier, but it would be kind of nice if I just felt happy without doing anything. Something to work on!


Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy January 5, 2012 at 5:38 am

I was definitely rounding a dangerous corner about a year ago, and a big part of that was the company I was keeping, being influenced by her own issues and competitive nature.
I would take a class at lunch, feel like I didn’t get “enough cardio” and go back for zumba or 45 minutes on the elliptical. I was definitely wearing myself out and it was just making me even hungrier and more lethargic. I think I have a good balance now, but I also think I’ll always struggle with giving myself rest days. Stupid OCD…


Eden January 5, 2012 at 8:37 am

I was a cardio addict, but I would never have gone to a Zumba class if my life depended on it! haha.


Asian Bitch January 5, 2012 at 6:11 am

Before, I would workout for a reasonable amount of time and not over do it. Now it’s been like 1-2 months that I haven’t lifted a finger because my eating and stress levels are a mess. I think my weight is a bit lower, but it’s probably due to loss of muscle mass (or because of the puking but we won’t go into details), or maybe because of the ”debloating” (I’ve been eating much less protein powder and veggies).

Anyway, I want to start again because it helps me to not binge and feel productive, but I just can’t manage to do it because of all the shit that’s going on (makes me want to just crawl in the corner of the room and forget about everything).
I think I’ll start working on the mental aspect before starting running my 12 meters or lifting my 40 grams weights. I’m so badass.


Eden January 5, 2012 at 8:37 am

you are badass. I think exercise can be a great thing and even help in recovery. But just doing something you enjoy and of couse, not overdoing is the key.


Susan January 5, 2012 at 6:17 am

I walk to the bus stop, do my physical therapy exercises, and go to gentle yoga once a week. That’s it. Granted, my body probably couldn’t handle more. I understand that that might not be enough for some people, but it’s the perfect amount for me. I’m at peace with it, but I’ve also never been a big exerciser to begin with. The reason I do what I do is to keep my body feeling as good as it can feel. If I didn’t stretch every day I would feel like crap!


Nikki January 5, 2012 at 7:12 am

I believe people should exercise for health and not to burn calories. Putting exercise in the context of simply calorie burning is doing it for the wrong reasons. Strength train to feel strong, race because you are competitive, do yoga to feel more aware/connected within your mental and physical state.

Exercise because it makes you feel good and not to widen the gap in a calories in vs. calories out formula.


Eden January 5, 2012 at 8:35 am

I agree %100. whats with everyone try to kill calories all the time? Does nobody want energy anymore?


Lindsay @ Lindsay's List January 5, 2012 at 7:26 am

This is such a hard subject for me because I know I over-exercise. Sometimes for the calorie burn, but mostly because I love the movement. I’m one of the weirdos who LOVES sweating.
I DO restrain from over doing it though. Yesterday, I taught three hour long classes (subbing for someone else). Today I’m not doing anything. Tomorrow, I’ll do something light.


Cammy January 5, 2012 at 8:01 am

Exercise has been the hardest component of my ED for me to conquer, and it’s really a disruptive issue in my life right now. Pretty much determines (and consumes) my schedule every day. Yes, I’m working on it, slowly and allegedly surely. I think it is almost as much of an OCD/anxiety issue as a weight-gain fear this point, because I’ve dramatically slashed workouts in the past without major weight change.

I found Hans Huebner’s model of an endorphin addiction as the etiology for EDs (in a now-old book called “Endorphins, Anorexia, and Other Addictive Behaviors”)to be a really close fit for my history with anorexia and overexercise. I think the exercise started out partly an anti-anxiety strategy and partly because I was trying to keep my metabolism from flatlining when I was restricting (misguided, of course, because your body reads over exercise as a purge and shuts down your metabolism anyway). Now I think it has evolved to a point where I’m eating a reasonable amount for someone my height/age, but only if I overexercise as a way to justify the food intake. I think every progressive cycle of relapse/recovery for me over the past 12 years has been less intense on the food restriction front but more intense on the exercise.

Really glad you’re addressing this issue, because it’s very true. I think people really ignore the fact that our bodies are machines that never quit humming, and they get into the mindset that they have to purposely exercise to burn off every calorie that makes it into their stomach. Plus, your brain alone consumes 25% of all the energy your body uses, and that’s one thing that no one wants to starve.


Eden January 5, 2012 at 8:34 am

Yes, its been the hardest for me as well. I don’t think I do it for the calories burn but its for sure, like you said, more of an anxiety OCD thing. It quiets my mind if that makes any sense.


Katie January 5, 2012 at 8:51 am

I NEVER believed that I could exercise and NOT gain wait until I couldn’t exercise after I gave birth. I actually…gasp…lost a lot of weight when I took 6 weeks off. All that muscle disappeared and I was left with little scrawny legs, and that baby weight disappeared on it’s own. Turns out my body knows how to burn calories all by itself. :-) But I still like to exercise because it makes me feel sane.


Victoria January 5, 2012 at 8:52 am

I exercise every day, but not intensely. I’m currently in a gym class and some days if I’m not feeling it, I just count whatever we do there as exercise. Sometimes we’ll be goofing off and a lot of the time we don’t do “real” exercise, but that’s fine by me. Right now, I’m on break, and I’ve been on the stationary bike for the majority of my exercise. Honestly I don’t like it. I like biking outside, running outside, what have you, but any of the inside replacements (ie. stationary bike, treadmill) don’t really cut it for me. I get bored really easily. I guess the reason I do it anyway is partly fueled from my ED. I’m recovering, not recovered! Still got stuff to work on.


Eden January 5, 2012 at 8:59 am

For a while, I didn’t think I would ever have a healthier relationship with exercise. Until one day (fairly recently actually) I went to the gym on a non-rest day, and got on a machine for 15 seconds and was like “Fuck this, I’m tired”. I went back to the locker room and straight back home to bed. It was wonderful.


Victoria January 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm

You rock. I hope I can have that mentality at some point!


Katie January 5, 2012 at 9:21 am

I am one of those who feels as though the only way I can lose weight is to exercise every single day. I used to overexercise. Partially because I became addicted to running, and partially because one day off would mean 1-2 pounds of weight gain (yup, water weight, but it didn’t matter in my head). So, I began to work out for several hours a day, seven days a week.

When I regained sanity, I realized that while I felt great and accomplished, it was insane and unsustainable. I then went on a binge and gained all the weight back I had worked so hard to lose. Finally, years later, I have balanced my diet out and try to work out but am not so hard on myself. My weight stays steady. I know that I need to do more to lose weight, but I fight with myself to remember that non-stop is not the solution and that I have to find a happy medium. But, part of me still struggles to accept that I can lose weight without killing myself at the gym.


lindsay January 5, 2012 at 10:12 am

i think if people just get out to walk around the block its exercise! We tend to define it by the number calories we burn. Bugger! But i like your approach Eden, no beating around the bush here.

any updates about your dad? Let me know if you have time. been thinking about him.


Eden January 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm

No, not really. They sent that tumor to like ten labs around the country and we’re still waiting. Ugh! But he’s in good spirits. Thanks for the concern :)


Leah @ L4L January 5, 2012 at 10:35 am

I used to exercise for the calorie burn … when I was counting calories. And things weren’t adding up. I was restricting, and exercising, but not dropping weight. So I gave up on exercise cold turkey. This past year and a half or so, I’ve found a better balance – I do it because I enjoy it, for the health benefits, for the mental/stress release. I don’t sweat it if I miss a workout… or three but I know I feel better when I am consistent.


Eden January 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Funny how that works with the whole exercising AND restricting. Its like our bodies know its not cool and they’ll be like “Fuck you bitch, watch me NOT lose weight despite youre craziness!”.


julie January 5, 2012 at 11:13 am

i love the word brioche and i love the word amuse bouche? hahahaha did i even spell that right? whatever can you make me a brioche amuse bouche?


Eden January 5, 2012 at 2:57 pm

You didn’t even read my post, did you :P


jen January 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm

i’m trying to lose 15 pounds so i’m exercising 6 days a week right now (3 days cardio, 3 days vinyasa yoga) but i’ll definitely cut that down a bit once i’ve lost the weight. i don’t like having to shower so much lol. i’ve always been a gym rat, i do enjoy it. mostly the accomplished feeling…it’s not like every minute on the bike is pure joy for me. also i like to be able to zone out and listen to music for an hour.


melissanibbles January 5, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I used to run 5 miles a day MINIMUM and then strength train at night 6 days a week. I was constantly sore and irritable. Now I walk for one hour three times a week and will do yoga or Core Fusion one other day. I know I need at least two days off or I feel like crap. My weight remains steady and I think people enjoy being around me now that I’m not such a bitch all the time.


Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning January 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Wow, I think you’re the only blogger that I’ve ever read post anything about exercising LESS.
I have battled my exercise addiction for years. I used to exercise hard twice a day, every day and never take a rest day. I remember getting the stomach flu and wanting to cry because I couldn’t make it to the gym. Overexercising actually caused me to gain 10 lbs and stop getting my period.
I’ve cut back big time and actually take at least one day a week to do nothing- but it’s hard for me to take like, a week off because I teach both spinning and Bodypump. Getting paid to exercise is awesome- but I seriously love the way I feel after- I guess I’m addicted to the endorphins. I have managed to restrict my gym time to once a day and keep it around an hour and only exercise “hard” the two days a week that I teach spin.
Yes- I’m a mess. :)


Mary Legare Whaley January 5, 2012 at 7:25 pm

I like this post a lot. You are so provocative! I like it. I exercise daily. Really, I do. I exercise like I eat. It’s my 4th meal of the day. If I don’t get at least a little bit of physical activity in a given day, I get anxious. Not because I’m worried about what I ate, it’s more of a need to exert excess energy. My whole life, I battled sleep. I would go full nights never being able to fall asleep, even as a 10 year old. I would cry at 3 in the morning, complaining to my mom that I still hadn’t fallen asleep. I had so much energy. I wasn’t ADD or ADHD by any means. I’m a creative type…both a blessing and a curse, the mind never wants to rest. So for the last 10 years+, I’ve been an (almost) daily endurance athlete. I need to expend the excess energy mainly for sleep! But heart problems run in my family too, so keeping my blood pressure down is important. Only in college did I ever think about food and exercise together, but since I was the only one in my sorority who exercised more than twice a week, I never felt pressure to even think about what I was eating. That was a good time, I ate what everyone else did and just ran a few miles between classes. Nowadays, I exercise daily, not so much for weight management but for my personal well-being. Since I love it, I know it’s possible to exercise happily. But everyone has to find what they love. For some people, running is pure misery. For me? Zumba would be my hell. I can’t dance. But I know SO many people who have found this to be their way of getting into shape. To each, their own! But I do love exercise. It’s free (usually), and it’s a great way to kill some time and let off some steam!


Eden January 5, 2012 at 11:44 pm

I never said I dont like exercise…I just need to chose ones that are healthier for my mind and I need to make sure I don’t overdo it ;)


A.W. January 5, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I used to be hardcore cardio obsessed — partly because it kept me mentally sane and partly because I used it to offset overeating. I ran. all. the. time. But after a strained IT band and foot tendon, I realized my body was telling me to slow down.

I am so happy I now have a more balanced approach. And — gasp! — I didn’t balloon up. I now do about 30 minutes of some aerobic activity about six days a week (only running once or twice a week now). I have noticed that my endurance is much lower than it was a year ago, but I’m OK with that.

I will always have exercise in my life because I think it is important for overall health. I feel more positive and energetic when I am done. And on the days I’m way too tired? I’ve learned it’s OK to skip it now and then :-)


Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) January 5, 2012 at 7:35 pm

I find exercise really, really boring. I do it for a while, everyday, then take a couple months off, then get back into it, then take a couple months off. My weight never fluctuates. I should try to be more consistent, but life gets busy.


Eden January 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm

It can be boring but I started do things that were interesting like yoga or krav maga (israeli self defense). Those are exercise that really make you think, not just move.


Amanda January 5, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Um, I am in love with that Snoopy picture! I am obsessed with Snoopy.

So with you on brown sugar, will accept no substitutes. Especially in chocolate chip cookies.


Eden January 5, 2012 at 11:41 pm

I know! Andy showered you with Snoopy gifts, eh? Snoopy is my role model. No joke.


Naomi(onefitfoodie) January 5, 2012 at 8:17 pm

i used ot be so SO rigid with my ‘rest days’ it was always one day on the weekend and that was my one day of doing nothing. My whole week would get thrown off if i had to take a rest day during the week (god forbid!) then I realized, i was a crazy lady. I take rest when I want it and work out when I feel strong and want to. Today, I did nothing. Nothing at all (and I work in a gym everyday so I am surrounded and have the chance to) but I felt like doing nothing. Yeah. it was great

I want to meet you now :)


Eden January 5, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Come to LA. I love boston, but you would love the sun and the jewishness here ;)


sarah@spinach and spice January 7, 2012 at 8:45 am

Honestly, I don’t exercise. I’m not the least bit athletic, and my few mile (mandatory) walks around campus monday thru friday count as enough exercise for me! I used to beat myself up over this, and sometimes i still do. (damn those bloggers who can run several miles a day). but hey, it helps living with an entire family who is athletically challenged. i’ve come to realize that while exercise is important for the health of a body, not putting so much pressure on yourself is good for the health of a mind.


Mary January 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I love this post. Right now, I am going to the gym everyday for at least 2 hours. It’s killing me but I have such a hard time stopping. I hate looking at myself and seeing what I see but whenever there is a class available, like zumba, yoga, or butts& guts, I feel like I HAVE to go. And when I can’t exercise, I just criticize myself all day long which in the long run makes me miserable. I am really glad you posted this because it gave me a sense of, at least, a little relief. So, thank you, thank you so much.


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