Is the “Intensity Mindset” Failing You?

NEWS FLASH: The harder and longer you exercise does NOT mean the more results you will see, the more calories you will burn, and the more you will boost your metabolism. In fact, my dear readers, it is often quite the contrary.

As a wellness professional, my job — my vocation — is to help my clients learn about how their bodies work so they can take control of their days. I challenge them to get to know what is best for them, not their friend, not someone they heard about in a podcast or read about in a blog. Them.

I also continue on my vocation to teach them:

  • a calorie is not a calorie;
  • calories aren’t bad;
  • fat is good for you, especially as we age;
  • “burning calories,” as the popular media and fitness industry wants you to believe, doesn’t happen the way they have been told time and time again. Oh, yes, and…
  • metabolism doesn’t work the way you thought it did.



So, today, I’m introducing another shocking revelation for you my dear readers: if you are engaged in high-intensity exercise, like a 5am bootcamp, HIIT-focused workouts, getting in your swift 10,000 or morning five miles, checking your Fitbit or Apple watch for calorie expenditure or “activity levels,” you may want to heed some of the latest research around what is called the “Intensity Mindset.” You may want to reconsider how you measure “progress” in your fitness and really in your wellness.


Ever felt like this?


  • You start to feel tired or sore all the time, but you push through it?
  • You have nagging injuries starting to creep up more often, yet you keep going.
  • Your strength and/or endurance aren’t really getting better, but you convince yourself it’s only because you’re still not doing enough.
  • Work and/or home life is stressing you out, and…
  • You’re not sleeping well, yet…
  • You think the best way to relieve stress is to sweat it out in the gym.


Over the past two decades, many fitness methods have developed around the concept that the harder you train, the more you measure it on a device, the more weight you’ll lose, the more toned your body will be, or the stronger you’ll become. And, of course, the happier you will be.



Even worse, if you are training hard and not seeing the results, then you must not be training hard enough. Then, you choose another, more challenging method, because clearly if the former one didn’t work, you must need to work harder.


So, is this you?


Stay tuned for next week’s recipe for how you can really achieve the wellness and fitness you want by actually dialing back your fitness (shhhhhh…and stress levels). In the meantime, email me at if this article is totally talking to you.


  • The latest from Adrien
Adrien founded Fitness on the Run in 2004 out of her home after a successful career in policy and public affairs communications. After spending 15 years developing her own personal definition of wellness and watching thousands struggle with theirs, in January 2019 Adrien founded Alexandria Wellness, the home for the Concierge Wellness Program and Corporate Wellness with Adrien Cotton. Over the course of 15 years, “FOR” was home to more than 2,000 clients, 30 instructors, and hundreds of inspirational success stories. Adrien is now, more-than-ever, passionate about helping women view their fitness as a journey, not a quick fix. Adrien’s recipe for success herself has evolved from a rigid training plan of sweaty and heart pumping workouts to some days getting in her 10,000 steps, consciously breathing, her 7.5 hours of sleep, and her beloved 5-Minute Flow. Adrien believes the most important ingredient is making small changes for big results, even if it’s one new habit formed each month. Still passionate about fitness, Adrien’s clients appreciate her ability to make sessions seriously challenging without a “beat down,” a healthy mix of strength and metabolic (cardio) work and ultimately helping her clients gain real strength in mind and body. She believes we all benefit from being curious about our bodies and that change, or improvement, is within reach despite what your “inner voice” or others may tell you. Adrien is bubbling with excitement to help women learn the importance of a comprehensive approach to wellness, weight loss, and contentedness with yourself, and that every person has the right to feel good about themselves. Most days, you can find her helping clients with their wellness, listening to success stories, and bragging about her twin 13-year-old children and “fittest man in Alexandria” Bill Cotton. Adrien prides herself on her practice of mindfulness, meditation, and putting it all into perspective.

Alexandria Wellness offers achievable answers for anyone who is tired of chasing fitness and health without a clear plan, someone who has struggled and is not satisfied with their fitness and wellness or someone who is open to maximized healthful longevity and fitness along with healthful weight loss. Adrien and her team offer help with food guidance, body acceptance, sleep and stress issues, and insist you have fun along the way.

Schedule your free 30 minute consult here!

Alexandria Wellness
215 North Payne Street
Alexandria, VA 22314



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