We know just how frustrating some weight loss journeys can be! Sometimes, it feels as though you’ve been trying to shed the pounds for months, or even years, but none of the positive steps you take (being mindful of what you eat, exercising regularly and getting the right amount of sleep) seem to yield noticeable results.
If your weight loss has plateaued and you’re ready to throw in the towel, don’t! Before you give up on your health goals, it’s important to realise that some of the things you might be doing in the name of losing weight could actually be to blame for keeping you from shedding those pounds. These fitness and nutritional decisions may seem healthy on the face of things, but they also might be weight loss mistakes that you’re unknowingly making! Here are a few examples:
Being a Cardio Queen
One of the most common reasons why some women just can’t shed those last 10 or 15 lbs. or make changes to their physique is because they focus too much on cardio exercises. Now, we’re not saying that you should put away those running shoes or quit your spin class for good—just that maybe you’re concentrating too much on heart-pumping workouts and not doing enough resistance and strength training.
Cardiovascular exercise is a fantastic stepping stone when it comes to increasing fitness levels, burning calories and improving the overall function of your body. However, experts have discovered that these fat-burning benefits only happen when you’re actually participating in the workout. Resistance training, on the other hand, increases your muscle mass, which also increases your metabolic rate, aka your body’s ability to burn calories throughout the rest of the day.
As stated by renowned personal trainer Kayla Itsines (who is just one of many advocates for women who lift), “[I]n order to have that toned, sculpted body that most women want, you will need to add in some resistance workouts”. By all means, keep some cardio workouts in your training plan, but spend a bit more time strength training with weights, swimming, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and even stronger forms of Yoga like Ashtanga, Forrest and Iyengar. Women can lose muscle mass and bone density as they age, so training your body to lift heavy weights and move with resistance will keep you healthier for longer.
Wanting too much, too soon
Sometimes the best intentions can work against us, and that certainly goes for trying to lose a lot of weight in a shorter period of time. This is a subject that is endlessly debated in health and fitness circles, with so many people asking how much weight should they try to lose in a week. As a result, there’s so much conflicting information out there that it’s really easy to fall into the trap of creating unrealistic weight loss goals.
Extreme transformations (like the 115-pound weight loss accomplished by Twitch streamer Jamie Staples, for example) simply don’t happen overnight. In some cases, losing 100 lbs. takes years to achieve, through a careful balance of healthy nutrition and the right kind of exercise.
Jamie lost almost half his bodyweight in 12 months. However, he did this to win a proposition bet, and he had the advice and guidance of personal trainer Mike Vacanti on hand. We’re advocates of a more sensible approach to losing weight. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race, but in this case, it got the gold medal!
To really hone in on your wellness goals, it’s important to work with a suitably knowledgeable and qualified expert, but we know that’s not always possible, especially if you’re just starting out on your weight loss journey. A safe baseline for weight loss is to aim for 1 to 2 lbs. a week, which would mean a 500-1000 daily calorie deficit. Any more than that and there’s no guarantee that your weight loss will be sustainable in the long run, and it could have a detrimental impact on your long-term health.
Being too nutritionally aware
In your quest for svelteness, you’ve gone gluten-free, dairy-free, and keto; tried paleo; and have even eaten only grass-fed Kobe beef (okay, that’s stretching it a little bit!), but the only thing that’s shrinking with any rapidity is your bank balance. Unless you have a health condition that requires you to only eat specific foods, restricting your diet actually isn’t the best weight-loss tool to use.
It may come as a surprise—especially since we’re so often told that cutting out things like gluten will lead to weight loss—but restrictions do not always equal sustainability. Sure, sticking to a gluten-free diet might help you lose those initial few pounds, but as Marina Chaparro R.D. (from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) advises, “[g]oing gluten-free can put you at risk for nutritional deficiencies, such as omega 3s, B vitamins and fibre.”
The same applies to low-fat and low-sugar products. Eating them might mean that you’re consuming fewer calories per serving, but these types of products typically lack key elements like protein and fibre. Some people can also fall into the trap of eating more of these types of products because of the “low…” label and end up consuming more calories than if they’d just eaten a moderate amount of the real thing in the first place!
Nutrition is something that should certainly be dialled in—abs are made in the kitchen, after all! However, an effective nutritional plan should aim to provide the right balance of macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat), with long-term sustainability. So instead of going “g-free”, swap out those nasty refined carbohydrates (white pasta and white bread) for some nutrient-packed whole grains like buckwheat, spelt or simple brown rice. And when it comes to sweet treats, don’t settle for imitations. A couple of squares of Moorish dark chocolate are infinitely more satisfying than any number of Slim-Fast bars!
A few healthy tips to take away
As much as we all wish we could wave a magic wand and get to our perfect weight in the blink of an eye, in reality it can often be a much longer journey than that. One of the most important things to remember about losing weight is that sometimes, no matter how much you wish it to be, that ideal weight you’re dreaming of is just not the weight that you need to be right now.
Always, always treat yourself with compassion and kindness. Never try to punish yourself by depriving your body of the nutrition it needs or over-exerting yourself at the gym, on the track, or in the studio. Above all else, aim to be happy, healthy and whole. Approach your health and fitness goals from a place of positive motivation and self-belief rather than one of body negativity and an obsession with a number on the scale.
Eat a good, nourishing breakfast every day, move well, keep hydrated, and create a nutrition plan based upon balance and long-term wellness. Like Jim Rohn said, “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live in”. But remember that sometimes self-care can involve a little bit of indulgence now and again!