It could be the specific yet small things holding you back right now
Most of us have been on the weight loss journey time and time again. We’re doing everything that books and online forums tell us to do, but for some reason, things are not going according to plan. This may be happening for weeks and months on end. What exactly is going on? The truth is, our bodies are a lot smarter than we can comprehend. Any slight changes to our overall calorie intake and activity infuse a cascade of alarm bells. If we are not careful, putting on more body fat and losing muscle mass will become a reality. I know this well, as it always happened to me. All is not lost here, and I will go through some essential points with you now.
One: Are you eating more than what you should be?
Weight loss 101 tells us that to encourage fat burning, we must facilitate a calorie deficit. This does not necessarily mean less food; it means quality and density. Make lean meats, vegetables, and fats your staples with every meal, leading to satiety and fewer hunger pangs. Eliminating hunger is a straightforward key to losing body fat. Not only for your own satisfaction, but it will make you less inclined to eat more. Over time, eliminating snacking without feeling hungry can cause a significant shift in your results. Are you tracking what foods you eat? Several apps allow you to do this, and one encourages you to take a photo that uncovers the macronutrient levels. Don’t become too obsessive; be aware and honest with yourself about what foods you are overeating. Snacks, sugary drinks, and alcohol add up in calories. Do you need a 3 pm chocolate fix? Why not have a black coffee instead? These minor changes make a huge difference. It’s not an overnight success but a gradual process.
Two: Are you doing enough exercise daily?
Diet is key to weight loss, but dieting also has the potential to slow down your metabolism. Hence the term ‘burning muscle for energy.’ You may not even know it’s happening to you, but, it does happen when on a calorie-restricted diet. One way to combat this is to do the correct form of exercise. I highly recommend (surprise, surprise) weight training. It causes your metabolism to burn stored body fat, makes you insulin sensitive and prevents muscle loss. You must make sure you’re eating enough protein per day to work well. If you want to burn some stubborn body fat, get into HIIT. Short burst with rest periods triggers hormones responsible for fat burning, as well as the after-burn you experience outside of the gym! Make sure you only stick to 20 minutes at a time. Less is more in this case.
Three: Are you consistent with your training?
Consistency is key to success in anything, including the fat loss or muscle building. It would be best if you committed to working hard and doing whatever you can to eat well and schedule your workouts. It’s ok to take a day off here and there, but you must be in the gym training properly at least three times a week. Five times if you are keen. Rest days are required to recover from your workouts and recuperate for subsequent sessions. If you cannot train due to an injury, you should oversee your diet with scrutiny for optimal recovery. Infuse your body with fats such as salmon, avocado, nuts, olive oil and coconut oil to decrease inflammation and speed up recovery. In no time, you will be back into training, and by then, muscle memory will take over.
Four: How is your quality of sleep?
Sleep is essential for fat loss and muscle recovery. It’s tough to train when you lack sleep for one, and more so, several nights in a row. Lack of sleep results in mediocre training effort, and your cravings for carbs and sugars will increase. In an ideal world, it’s fantastic to have 8 hours of sleep per night; this may not be the case for many people. If you are low on quality sleep, be aware of your cravings during the day. Make a considerable effort to take supplements such as magnesium toincrease your feelings of relaxation. Have a massage or a nice warm bath with essential oils before bed. Aim to close all devices, and shut any light coming into your bedroom. These little rituals will all make a difference. Try them out and see what works best for you.
Five: Are you exercising too much (hint — cardio)?
Excessive amounts of cardio will hinder your weight loss results. This is because large amounts of cardio cause stress in the body, namely activating cortisol. This is our flight or fight signal, and too much of it via exercise will shed muscle for energy and increase body fat. The body is actually under stress and working its magic to keep you topped up with fat reserves in case it’s needed later on. This is why I suggest HIIT, as it stresses the body in short bouts, but it’s a highly effective strategy. It doesn’t burn your muscle for energy. It taps into your body fat. Steady-state cardio for hours does the opposite! Pick and choose your cardio well, and if you enjoy it, opt for walking. Walking is very powerful and can be used as an incidental exercise during the day. I always say every little bit counts. So make those bits count a lot.
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