Ever look in the mirror and wonder why you still don’t look as good as you probably could? You are exercising, eating the right things, not eating the wrong things, managing your portions, getting enough sleep, drinking a lot of water…. And still, no significant change. Why?
BALANCE CALORIES. You might be eating back all your burned calories. Most people grossly overestimate of how many calories are burned with their exercise session. They also grossly underestimate of how many calories they are consuming. That White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino? 625 calories. That “really tough” spin class? Maybe 400 calories…at most. Learn to accurately calculate your workouts and your meals and then you can strive for balance. Check out these free apps: MyFitnessPal, FatSecret, FitClick, Lose it! and MyNetDiary are all terrific. Tracking calories in and calories out is not enough….you have to track them accurately.
EXERCISE IS NOT ENOUGH. Exercise alone does not burn off as many calories as you might think. It can be very demanding, sometimes uncomfortable, and most of the time, downright inconvenient to get a vigorous sweat going. Unfortunately on the flip side, it is very very easy (too easy!) to eat hundreds (even thousands) of calories in just a few minutes. If you are not reducing calorie intake, exercise alone will not do the trick. We say it almost every day at the club: “You can’t out-train a bad diet”.
“HEALTH” FOOD TRENDS ARE NOT ALWAYS HEALTHY. You limit your diet, not based on a religious belief or a health issue, but because research shows it is a healthy thing to do. You follow all the latest ‘knowledge’ on what is good for you: eat “fat-free” foods, protein bars, kale, Chia, tofu, soy milk, greek yogurt, some of which you don’t like- at all. You buy a juicer…. You buy a high tech very expensive blender… you spend all your money at Whole Foods, because IT MUST BE ORGANIC, duh. Consider that not that long ago, the trends were saying: Eat pork rinds! Eat bacon! Eat granola! While it is important, is to learn about the new trends, and recognize the value of this information, be sure to use your judgment…. and your taste buds. If what you are eating is not appealing, you just eat it because you feel you have to in order to be healthy, don’t. Why torture yourself? It won’t last, and a few months or a few years later, you will be wondering why you passed up all those amazing meals for the crazy kale trend (that you don’t eat anymore). Solution? Relax. Take new information and incorporate it into a balanced diet- don’t cut out any major food groups, just limit the portions or find great alternatives that still will give your body what it needs. Eating well has to include a feeling of satisfaction and satiation- make it delicious or die trying. Buying items that are “organic” or “gluten Free” or “fat free” is NOT synonymous with “healthy”, it is only synonymous with “good marketing”.
DOING THE WRONG EXERCISES. If you are exercising because you think its fun, or for stress relief, by all means do anything you want- zumba, pilates, yoga, speed walking, whatever makes you happy. However, if you are exercising because you want to lose weight, that is a different story. Mixing cardio with strength training is the way to go- getting a personalized recipe to follow from a trained professional is indispensible. Your body composition, health history, motivation, likes and dislikes, are bound to be different from the standard model used in blogs, magazines and videos out there. Attempt to follow a training program designed for a 22 year old with no health issues will leave you in a bad situation as a 52 year old with a reconstructed rotator cuff and hypertension. Be honest with yourself and get a program designed specifically for you. (Beware: Personal Trainers are a dime a dozen these days, with bogus certifications available online to just about anyone. If the Trainer you meet with is not affiliated with a reputable fitness facility, be weary. There is probably a reason that “trainer” is on his own).
LACK OF CONSISTENCY. For any weight loss program to work, it has to be followed all the time. Not just on the weekdays, not all the time except when you go out, and not all the time except when you are really sad or really happy. ALL THE TIME. That is why a weight loss program has to be realistic. It has to be rigorous enough to get you to your goals, but comfortable enough to become part of your lifestyle. Sticking with a program will deliver results, and your mindset has everything to do with success.
MEASURE THE RIGHT THINGS. You don’t see a lower number on the scale, which can be frustrating. But, have you taken measurements? Do your clothes feel looser or fit you better? Don’t get hung up on the scale alone as a measure of success. It is the shape of your body and the amount of lean muscle vs. body fat you have that will accurately determine your progress. Get rid of the scale, and it will be the most significant 5lbs you will ever lose.
Lastly, have you considered that you don’t really need to lose weight? If you are at a healthy body mass index, your body fat percentage is in a healthy range for your height, age and body type, you probably don’t need to lose weight. Constantly being in battle mode against your own body will bring you down, frustrate you and ultimately leave you feeling angry and defeated. Focus on activities, sports and exercise formats that you enjoy, even ramp them up a bit to get that extra sweat. Mix it up, try new things, boxing, cycling, running, keep it fun and keep it at least one notch beyond your comfort level. Be consistent. Clean up your diet as new research is made available, adopting only trends that truly make sense, that you feel you can live with long term. Don’t force yourself to eat foods that don’t taste good to you. Don’t consume fake foods or supplements. Enjoy your food, enjoy your work outs and you may or may not see weight loss, but you will definitely see an improvement in your quality of life.