By: Matt Weik
You’re going to the gym. You’re watching what you eat. You’re totally committed. Yet, you’re not losing weight even when you’re (supposedly) doing all the right things. What gives? The fact is, you’re not alone. Many people in your position are struggling with the same lack of results and the frustration that can come along with it. If only the roadmap for success was that simple – unfortunately, it's not. Losing weight, while sounding so simple, is very complex and is multifaceted when it comes to forcing your body to make a change which it doesn’t want to do.
For that reason, I want to uncover five things that could be holding you back with losing weight and seeing the results you desire from your efforts.
Are you tracking your food? I mean, REALLY tracking it? While you may think you’re eating fewer calories, the reality is, you're either not tracking your macros or you're neglecting to put some things in. I don't think I need to go into the whole not tracking piece. Bottom line is, if you're not tracking, you have no idea how many calories you are consuming daily. However, some people don't put everything into their tracker (like the MyFitnessPal app) and at the end of the day, their numbers aren’t accurate.
For instance, if you get a coffee each morning and they put in cream or sugar, if you aren’t including the coffee and additional ingredients into your daily calories, they will add up over time and prevent you from losing weight. You can even consider all of the condiments you put on food. Ketchup, BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, etc. To effectively be losing weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit. Period.
The opposite of what we talked about from #1 is the fact that you’re not eating enough calories and it’s doing damage to your metabolism. Your body does not like to starve itself. When it is not taking in enough nutrients, it wants to hold onto everything you put in it as a self-preservation mode. Additionally, it slows down your metabolism and burns fewer calories because it wants to hold onto everything you feed it. This metabolic damage can be one of the reasons you’re not losing weight.
Look at everything you are consuming on a daily basis (again, using a tracker). If your maintenance is 1,800 calories per day. You want to only drop your calories 250-500 below that number each day. When you start crash dieting and eating next to nothing, you're doing yourself more harm than good. Losing weight in a healthy manner will give you the best (and lasting) results.
There are people who work out and then there are people who go through the motions. You need to be honest with yourself about which category you fall into. Are you working up a good sweat or are you leaving the gym full of energy? You should feel exhausted leaving the gym. You want to exert all of your effort and energy into your workouts and leave nothing left in the tank.
While walking on a treadmill at two miles per hour is better than nothing, you get from your workouts what you put into them. At two miles per hour, you’re really not going to be optimally burning calories to help your efforts with losing weight. Rather, maybe you should try an interval workout that keeps your heart rate elevated and allows you to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time while putting your body in a state to help with losing weight effectively.
An area that many people neglect when it comes to losing weight and overall health, in general, is rest. We try to burn the candle from both ends for as long as we can in an effort to be as productive as possible and get everything done that we need. However, when it comes to losing weight, rest is incredibly important.
Rest allows the body to recover properly which is vital for muscle recovery following intense bouts of exercise. The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you will naturally burn – even while at rest! Your body takes a pounding in the gym and when you don’t give it enough time to rest, it’s not going to run efficiently. Essentially, you’re doing more harm than good at that point. Proper rest helps gives you the energy necessary to hit the gym hard.
Rest is also important in hormone balance. When your hormones are out of whack, it can cause your body to hold onto fat stores as well as increase them (as well as increasing hunger hormones which can cause you to overeat). Strive for a minimum of seven hours of good quality sleep each night.
None of us like the feeling of being stressed. And as if that feeling wasn’t bad enough, stress can actually cause you to gain weight in several different ways. One way that stress can cause weight gain is that for many people it creates the sensation of hunger. Think of this along the lines of “emotional eating” or “stress eating” that many people talk about.
Another way that stress can be damaging and not allow you to effectively keep losing weight is that is increases a stress hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol in the body can cause your blood sugar to drop which in turn will make you start craving things that are fatty or sugary. If you fall into this trap, you're more likely to start overeating (on unhealthy food options) which won’t give you the ability to be burning fat and losing weight.
Focus on managing your stress levels and finding time each day to relax and unwind. Try meditating, reading a book, sitting in a quiet space, listening to music, and as mentioned in #4, focus on getting enough quality rest to combat the negative effects of stress and better manage cortisol levels.
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