You exercise. You eat well, or at least you think you do. But that scale has not budged and you don't feel any different. What gives?! Well, though the process to lose weight seems straightforward, there are things I usually find that people leave out, don't know, or actually forget. Here are seven of them for you to think about:
Not exercising enough: We naturally tend to over-estimate our exercise and under-estimate how much we eat. Any exercise is great exercise, but for those with specific weight-loss goals (like losing 20 pounds, etc.), it is important to understand that the body has to have a calorie deficit to lose weight. So while you do 50 squats a day, recognize that you may need to do more if you want to burn more. Also, change up your exercise regularly so your body doesn't get used to it.
Not focusing on the right kind of exercise: There are so many variations of exercises today, but the 2 major groups are cardio (like running) and strength training (like push-ups). What you find with different sexes is that men generally want to do more strength training and women generally want to do more cardio. However, you do need a great mix of the two to lose weight and build muscles. Cardio burns calories, effectively creating that calorie deficit. But strength training builds muscle mass so you look more well-defined. However, the body needs more energy to just maintain these muscles, which also helps burn calories while you are just chilling. So if you are doing just cardio or just strength, mix it up and get a regular dose of both.
Eating too much: As I said before, we tend to under-estimate how much we eat. I find that keeping a food diary helps to keep track of everything that goes into our mouths every day, and tools like MyFitnessPal or LoseItNigerian help to calculate the number of calories in the food we eat. In order to understand the basics of how food contributes to weight, check out this simple article I wrote: Math Behind Your Fitness Goals.
Eating the right foods: Ever wondered why you stay hungry? Certain foods are known to keep you fuller longer, and so just changing your food types and going a bit more natural can aid in your weight loss goals. For example, brown rice contains similar calories to white rice, but because white rice has been super-processed, it goes through your system much faster leaving you hungry again quicker. The same goes for eating whole natural foods like sweet potatoes rather than processed foods like bread.
Drinking water: I know, it sounds crazy, right? But drinking more water actually aids in losing weight because it helps circulate nutrients well within the body. If we drink the right amount of water everyday, studies have shown that we actually eat less because it curbs some of the mindless eating we do when we think we are hungry but really are thirsty. I like to drink water because more water for me equals less sugary empty-calorie drinks. Plus, who doesn't like all the other added skin benefits you get from drinking loads of water? :)
Getting some sleep time: We talk a lot about exercise and food, but not enough about rest. With our busy lives, we are leaving sleep more and more on the back burner and it could hurt us. In order to grow, our muscles need time to recover after being worked hard, and sleep is where we get that recovery. Plus, sleep helps relieve stress and helps us think better, and we all know stress can be a big reason for weight gain, especially around the midsection.
Being more active throughout the day: Yes, you hit the gym. But then do you spend the rest of the day sitting at your desk and not moving? Do you drive everywhere and not take walks? While higher impact exercises are great, consistently keeping the body in motion helps burn calories and helps prevent illness caused by a sedentary lifestyle. Walk around your office, get up from your desk every hour if possible, park a little further away and walk for a couple of minutes. These small gestures go a long way.
I hope this helps you in some way. But remember that each body is different and operates at different paces. So find what works for you by trying these out. If you have a tips to share, I'd like to hear them as well.
Cheers Eights & Weights!
Photo credit: Health.com