Getting started on a training and nutrition program is not an easy task for most people. But at some point you’re going to say to yourself, “This is it – I’m starting my diet, getting a gym membership, and nothing is going to stop me from reaching my weight-loss goals.” Even if you do get on a good fitness program and you start making healthier choices with your food, you might only see a small fraction of the results you’re expecting. What most people don’t realize is that there are a number of health factors that could be negatively affecting your weight loss or fitness goals. And surprisingly, most of them are easily fixable.
- Stress: This is probably the most overlooked reason why you’re not achieving your fitness goals. I can never “stress” enough (pun intended) to my clients the importance of keeping stress levels to a minimum when starting a fitness and nutrition program. The reason for this cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted by the adrenal glands. It regulates blood pressure and the body’s use of macronutrients. Cortisol also affects insulin release and your body’s ability to convert sugars into energy. When you get stressed out, your cortisol levels go up – a lot. This produces an increase in appetite and also tells the body to start storing fat. Over time this will lead to increased abdominal fat, fatigue, and a suppressed immune system. If you’re in the gym every day and your diet is spot on but you’re not seeing the results you want, try chilling out a bit.
- Sleep: Sleep is a crucial factor in losing fat. Sleep suppresses your appetite and raises your metabolism while allowing your body to rest and recover. Your body has two hormones that play a crucial role in stimulating and suppressing your appetite: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is produced by your body’s fat cells and is responsible for suppressing hunger. Ghrelin is released by your stomach and stimulates your appetite. Lack of sleep lowers leptin levels and increases ghrelin levels which results in an increased appetite – and make the process of burning fat a lot harder for your body. Aim for at least six to eight hours of quality sleep a night.
- Hydration: We’ve all heard the old adage, “Drink six to eight glasses of water a day to stay healthy and hydrated.” This couldn’t be more important when it comes to weight loss. Our bodies are mainly water. When we don’t drink enough, our body retains what it can, which can lead to unwanted weight. Drinking water can help you lose weight in a few different ways. First, a lack of water actually slows protein synthesis – the muscle-building function in your body. So, if you want to burn fat and add muscle, your body needs to be fully hydrated. Also, staying hydrated ensures that you don’t confuse thirst for hunger, causing you to overeat and gain more weight.
- Doing Cardio Only: When people think of weight loss, they automatically think of cardio. The misconception is that since cardio is hard, and I can break a good sweat doing it, it must be burning fat! So what happens? We do more and more cardio! The truth is, strength training builds muscle and increases BMR which in turn burns more body fat. Too much cardio will also make you lose muscle. If you feel the need to do 1hr or more a day of cardio to lose your fat, the problem is less likely that you need more cardio and more likely that you need to clean up your nutrition.
- The Scale – The dreaded scale!! I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had that get thrown off track of a training and nutrition program that’s working great for them, all because they kept stepping on the scale. People’s obsession with seeing that number drop week after week becomes their only measure for success. If you’re in the gym 3-5 days per week and have a good nutrition program geared towards your goals, you will see results. But the results might not always show up on the scale like you’d want them to. If you’re starting to notice your clothes fitting a little looser, your body feeling and looking a little tighter in the mirror and you just feel better in general, then you are succeeding at achieving your goals. Depending on how much muscle you’ve added, the scale might not have changed at all. That’s when people tend to discredit all the other achievements and start stressing out that the number on the scale hasn’t moved.