Thursday, October 10, 2019

10 reasons you're not losing weight

Dog tired

After working hard in the gym and eating lettuce leaves all week, you jump on the scales and notice you still haven't lost any weight.  "What the F**K's going on?" you say.  Normally it goes one of two ways from this point both of which aren't healthy:

1. The 'Sod this self destructive route', where you think what's the point.
2.  Or the 'must train harder, eat less route'.

An important thing to remember is to keep your chin up. It's probably only a couple of tweaks you might need to make here-and there, and here are 10 of them you may need to consider...

  #1 Weighing yourself daily

Jumping on the 'sad step'  isn't going to give you all the information you need.  Your weight can fluctuate from the morning to the evening, due to you filling the body up with food and liquids throughout the day.  Also, a normal set of scales aren't going to give you your actual body fat measurement, or how much lean mass your holding onto/losing.  People can become distracted with the weight, even though you might still be making progress else where.  When you start lifting weights you're bound to put on more muscle mass, which in turn holds stores more water and your bone density will increase, thus increasing your weight.  Look at the bigger picture, are you clothes feeling loser?  Are people commenting on how different you look?  Do you feel more energised? Are you performing better in the gym?...


#2 Not eating enough or eating too much

Cut your calories to cut the weight, simple right?   Not really.  Without doubt you can cut weight by starving yourself, but if you're reducing too much, the body starts to react by slowing down all it's metabolic processes ie, functioning effectively.  You'll feel weak, lethargic and ropey as hell.  You'll find it hard to concentrate at work and as for a workout, you probably won't be able to make it to the gym.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, if you're giving yourself permission to eat more just because you've been to the gym that day, well you might want to ease up on that too.
Ultimately you need to be creating an energy deficit (calories in vs calories out) through a reduction in 'energy in'- ie cutting down your portion sizes;  As well as burning calories (out) by exercising and building muscle.  A sensible target is 500 (-250kcals from portion sizes and -250 burned in the gym) calories per day, which is 3500 per week, approx burning 1kg (2.2lbs) of fat.

#3 Training too much

There is a balance you need to get right here.  Obviously you need to work hard in the gym, but it doesn't need to be every single day.  Sometimes you have to listen to body, because if it's tired and you keep pushing hard, you'll only be able to keep it up for so long before your Central Nervous System wares down.  You won't be able to keep up the consistency, so ultimately your performance will decline and thus your energy output and to top it off, your cortisol levels will increase (leading to abdominal fat storage).  The other risk, is the increased chance of an injury, putting you out of training (and 'pocket' in therapy) which is totally counter productive.

#4 Not training hard enough

If you could rate your workout on how hard you worked after you'd finished, on a scale 1-10 (1 being laying in bed still and 10 being 'call the paramedic') where would you rate yourself?  If it's anywhere under a 7, get your ass back in the gym sunshine!  And those that want to be clever and give yourself a 9/10 after a game of squash - well done, but if it's only x1 per week, I'll see you back on court tomorrow sunshine!  Catch my drift?


#5 Choosing low fat or fat free foods

"Fat makes you fat".  No it doesn't.  Fat does provide you with fuel, provides the body with vitamins and minerals (though not exclusively), makes up the structure of nerve cells and makes you fuller for longer periods of time.   Fat's been our diet since humans have been eating, why would you want to cut it out?  Yes fat does provide more energy from calories, but fats should NOT be avoided.  Consume the best quality you can (naturally occurring saturated, mono and polyunsaturated fats) and avoid transfats and hydrogenated fats from ready made meals and fast foods.

#6 Underestimating how much you're eating

'Eyeballing' and 'guesstimating' the calories or 'energy density' isn't an easy trick, unless you have a bombcalormeter to hand (and even that doesn't give a 100% information on calorie absorption in the body).  You can use MyfitnessPal to help track food and measure/weigh your food, but honestly, it can be a ball ache.  Now, using MyfitnessPal does work!  As it makes you more conscious and aware of your eating habits. So I do recommend its use.  But sometimes, all you need, is to be more aware your portion sizes.  Or even easier, eat until 80% full and not when you need to undo your belt buckle.
Another note here, people can sometimes neglect the 'sneaky-snacks' in-between meals.  The odd biscuit here and a couple of chips there, all add up.

#7 Filling in MyfitnessPal

...But not accurately.  Two things:

1.  MFP has a huge database of nutritional values, which might not accurately correlate to your particular food item.
2.  It's easy inputing all the 'right' foods and overseeing the calories, but are you accurately inputting the right weight?  Obviously if you're not adding the quantity, that's potentially extra calories you're exceeding.

#8 Eating out of habit

Sitting at home watching Netflix.  Having chips or bar nibbles with work drinks.  Eating just because it's lunch time, or even because we're told that 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day'.  If you're not hungry, you don't have to eat.  Again it comes back to self awareness and being conscious about what the body's telling you.  A lot of people struggle with 'emotional eating', which tends to a hunger orientated in the mouth when you 'fancy' something.  When you're hungry, you'll feel it in the stomach, the belly will be rumbling and you'll probably be feeling tired and lethargic.

#9 Having unrealistic expectations

You might be dropping weight, but just not as fast as you want, or that is realistic.  A good target would be to do three intense training sessions per week (at least).  Keep as active as possible and through the week and cut down on your portions sizes to create an energy deficit.  A sensible weekly fat loss target would be around 2lbs (approx 1kg).  Obviously the harder you work in the gym and the more you concentrate on your eating habits, the faster the fat will drop.  But don't expect to see any movement if you're doing yoga x3 per week and not changing your eating habits. Sorry.


#10 Not checking out the food labels

Just because a food product promotes that it's 'healthy-organic-fresh and gluten free', it doesn't mean that it's not full of calories (energy).   Always check the back of the packet.  Also, for overall health and nutrition reasons, check the quality of the ingredients and the sugar content.

Hopefully this has given you a glimpse of some common mistakes people make when working on their fat loss goal and perhaps you can relate to some of these habits yourself.  Quite often I find with clients, it's a combination of some of the above.  But like I say to my them, focus on small improvements.  Work on the easiest/fastest/most preferred habit to improve on first and then go from there.

Keep it real folks.



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