It can be frustrating if you feel like you are working hard but still not seeing the results you desire. Human metabolism is complicated and it is not always as simple as the common advice to eat less and move more. Here are five common, easy-to-miss ways you may be sabotaging your fat loss results.
Not getting enough quality sleep
It's sometimes seen as a badge of honor to function well on a little sleep, but sleep is an often overlooked factor for fat loss. Most of our body's recovery processes happen during sleep. Sleep plays a role in stress levels, recovery and regulation of hormones. Aim for 7-8 hours of high quality sleep each night for best results. If you are currently getting considerably less, start by adding 30 minutes to an hour each night. Create and follow a sleep ritual to help develop the habit of a good night's sleep. People are often looking for the supplement or diet that will help them reach their goal while completely overlooking the basics, like sleep, that can have a much bigger impact.
Not managing stress
High stress can cause you to hold on unwanted weight, can inhibit recovery from workouts, can cause you feel hungrier and potentially overeat. Everything is connected. During high stress times make an effort to spend at least 15-30 minutes a day in stress-relieving activities. Read a book, take a bubble bath, meditate, pray, walk, stretch, foam roll, get a massage, listen to music or anything other healthy activity that puts you in a relaxed state.
Not eating enough
You may be tempted to severely limit your calories in order to get faster results, but the body doesn't usually respond well to drastic changes. You don't turn up the temperature in the oven to cook your turkey faster and your body doesn't work that way either. If you eat too little for long periods your metabolism may slow down to compensate. With limited food intake you may not be getting the necessary vitamins and minerals, which can cause you to feel tired and foggy-brained. Lastly, if you are severely limiting your calorie intake, you're more likely to overindulge later which will eventually sabotage your efforts.
A better strategy is to eat about 500 calories under maintenance level for a moderate calorie deficit.
Eating "Diet" foods
Food marketing is tricky. Foods are often marketed with misleading labels to make people think they are making a healthier choice. Labels like fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, fresh, natural and organic are often slapped on unhealthy, high calorie, processed foods. If you don't pay attention to the nutrition label and read the ingredient list you may be eating foods that aren't healthy at all. Flavored yogurt cups are one of the worst offenders of a junk food disguised as a health food. They are usually loaded with processed ingredients and can have as much sugar as a cup of ice cream. Read the labels and ignore the marketing to make sure you are eating mostly whole foods from nature for best results.
Focusing on weight loss and not fat loss
It can be detrimental to get too attached to the number on the scale. The scale only tells a part of the story: your body weight. However if you are trying to lose weight, you should focus on losing fat, not weight. When the number goes down on the scale it could mean you lost fat (good outcome), it could mean you lost water (neutral outcome, neither good or bad) or it could mean you lost muscle (bad outcome). A lower number on the scale is not always a good result. In order to maintain muscle as we lose weight we need to consume adequate amounts of protein and perform some sort of resistance training on a regular basis. Losing muscle can hurt your ability to keep the weight off, which can sabotage your long term results. Focus on non-scale victories like body measurements, sleep quality, performance and how your clothes fit. When we are training properly, we sometimes shrink in size while maintaining the same scale weight.
Losing weight usually requires a lifestyle changes. Take it slow, be patient and learn to enjoy the journey. Focus on developing the healthy habits that will help you reach your goals. Here are 10 daily healthy habits that can change your life. Need help? My nutrition habits coaching program has three openings. See if you are a good fit.
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