This post is the first in an ongoing series called “5 Minute Fitness.” These blog posts are designed to help give you quick healthy lifestyle ideas in a minimal amount of time.
It’s 10:30, and my day is going on hour 17. I had a double header workout today, and I’ve already taken Melatonin, so I
will could get really loopy really fast. Also, I just decided that watching the pilot episode of LOST was a great idea (because obviously 10:30 on a week night is the best time to start one of the most intriguing and drawn out series EVER) so if plane crashes and evil fog works their way into this post, well, you can’t say you weren’t warned. Gear up for excitement people, because I’m about to tell you why you can’t lose that extra weight. Ok, that was the Melatonin talking, I really can’t advise you on your specific case unless I work with you. But here’s what I can speculate as to why you’re not slimming down. Drumroll please:
1). You’re over eating
This is a tricky one and it sounds so basic, but it is a huge culprit not only for why you can’t lose weight, but for why you may be gaining weight. Sure, you may be tracking calories, and recording everything you eat, but are you SURE your amounts are correct? Are you reading the serving sizes, counting the number of crackers you put in your mouth, and measuring your portions with measuring cups? If the answer to any of these questions is no, start tomorrow. Trust me, you will be shocked. A few hints: take a day and keep measuring cups and measuring spoons on the counter. Measure all of your food with these tools for one day, and your perception on portions will start to change. Another hint: eat on smaller plates. Multiple studies demonstrate that people who eat on bigger plates tend to overeat. Keep your plate small and you’re more likely to feel satisfied with less food.
2). You’re moving, but not enough…
You fully realize you need to move more to rev your metabolism, so perhaps you joined a gym, or a walking club. You have committed to a few days a week, and that’s great! But on the days that you workout, do you also find that you eat more? If the answer is yes, monitor what you’re eating. Are you justifying poor nutritional choices with the excuse that you worked out today, so it’s ok? If so, stop. This could be leading you into a false sense of security, and also cause the scale to stay put. Bring a healthy, protein packed snack like hard boiled eggs with you to eat after your workout to fight the temptation to eat something unhealthy. Don’t worry, you don’t necessarily need to move more, you just need to be mindful of your food intake. But if you do want to move more (which I’m a huge promoter of!) get a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps per day. Trust me, it can be a lot harder than you’d think to get those steps, but once you do, you’ll feel accomplished and great about yourself.
3). You are really good at what you do (and boring your body while you’re at it)
Take this example: you join a gym and go on the elliptical 4 days a week at the same, flat “Quick Start” incline for 45 minutes. You lose about 20 pounds in the first few months by sticking to this program, but all of a sudden, you plateau, and the scale doesn’t budge despite your best efforts. What gives?
Your body has become super efficient at performing on the elliptical. It knows what’s coming when you walk in the gym doors, and it knows how to perform the best it can with minimal effort. Therefore, you aren’t burning as many calories as you were when your workout plan started and your body wasn’t used to the elliptical. What’s the solution? Variety!! Go to a new group exercise class. Play with the levels of intensity on the elliptical. Run uphill. Run faster. Perform timed intervals. Get off the elliptical and lift weights! The key is variety. When your body doesn’t know what to expect, it has to work hard to perform, thus maximizing caloric burn.
4). You’re not sleeping
Countless studies imply that a lack of sleep can lead to stress, overeating, lethargy, poor decision making, and a multitude of other negative health issues. A lack of sleep also can lead not only to the scale staying put, but even worse, weight gain. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night and monitor how you feel after getting certain amounts to find what the magic amount of sleep is for you. Try it for a week, and see how you feel!
5). You’re only doing cardiovascular exercise
You have probably heard the phrase, “muscle weighs more than fat.” Ugh, talk about the most annoying phrase in the world. Here’s what it actually means: muscle takes up 1/2 the space that fat does. A pound of lean muscle and a pound of fat both weigh a pound…however, the fat takes up approximately twice as much space as the muscle does. Therefore, if you lift weights and build muscle, it is entirely possible to lean out and look like you’ve lost a lot of weight, yet stay the same weight you were when you started. You just may have a reduced body fat percentage and an increased amount of muscle (and no, fat does not “convert” to muscle. They are completely different internal substances that are not interchangeable). Additionally, muscle burns more energy (calories) than fat while it is helping you navigate through life. So if you build muscle, you burn more energy even when you’re not working out. And no, ladies, lifting weights won’t make you bulky. That’s another post in itself.
So if you’re frustrated and ready to throw the scale out the window, take a good read and see if any of these apply to you. And if they don’t apply to you, just go take a nap. Or throw your scale away. Or throw your scale away and nap. Seriously. Airplanes. Fog. Goodnight!
We want to know, how did you lose those last 10 lbs? Share in the comments below!!