February 21, 2013

Getting Healthy: 5 Major Roadblocks to Weight Loss

1. Not eating enough.

I am guilty of this one from time to time. It feels counter-intuitive that in order to lose weight you need to eat more. However, if you aren't eating enough calories to support your workouts then your body will not allow the weight to drop. This happens because your body believes that it has to conserve it's energy in order to perform when the time comes for those workouts. I am a great supporter of Myfitnesspal.com. The beauty of this free, online, calorie calculator is that it allows you to eat up to your basic calorie budget everyday but when you enter your workout calories (i.e. what you burned) it adds this to your basic calorie budget and allows you to "eat back your calories."

This means that if your basic budget is 1200 calories a day and you workout and burn 300 calories that day, your new budget for the day is 1500. This concept is the most common sense concept and it works because you are allowing your body to sustain itself and yet it begins to drop the weight because it does not fear that there will be a lack of energy (food/calories) in the future.

My suggestion when it comes to eating more calories is to eat more nutritious calories. Meaning instead of eating empty calories, like a cookie, eat something like an apple that has vitamins and minerals that support your overall health. My other suggestion is to also eat more protein. Foods that are high in protein also are higher in calories than fruit and vegetables. Not only will it allow you to consume more calories to meet your quota for the day, but it also will keep you satiated longer and help promote healthy/strong muscle growth.

2. Trying to out-exercise your bad diet.

This is the reverse of not eating enough calories. Have you ever heard the saying that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise? There is some validity to that statement. A bad diet that is filled with foods that are not nutritious cannot be negated by exercising at the gym for 3 hours! Not only will you get bored, but you will also be damaging your body. Our bodies are not designed to out exercise our eating habits. You might see success with this technique but over the long haul you will be damaging your joints and exhausting your muscles. Not only that your body will adapt to your workouts and you will no longer see the success that you saw initially.

In my opinion, a workout should not be more than 90 minutes a day. Generally, I aim for an hour a day. This usually burns anywhere from 300-400 calories. I compliment my workouts by trying to eat healthy all day. I have done the weight loss thing 3 major times in my life and I know that this is what works for me and probably will work for you. Losing weight is only a byproduct of simple math. Calories in vs. calories out!

3. Skipping workouts.

This is the opposite of trying to out exercise your bad diet. This plain and simple is just skipping workouts. I am guilty of this a lot. I just feel REALLY exhausted sometimes. I also suffer from persistent migraine headaches that make working out not possible. The best way to keep to a workout routine is to either commit to a workout regimen OR find something that really motivates you to workout.

For me, I do both but mainly I use bad experiences in my life as a motivator. For example, I fear the idea of 'letting myself go.' That alone motivates me to workout. I don't want to see people I haven't seen in years and them saying, "Man, she let herself go! She used to be so pretty." I mean, I do that when I see old acquaintances and I would hate for them to think that of me. I'm just too vain!

4. Not getting enough rest.

When my son was a baby I read somewhere that babies grow when they sleep. I believe this to be true. Your body needs adequate rest in order to recuperate from the activities of the day. The best example I can think of to demonstrate this concept is when I am trying to gain muscle mass. My rest days are the days that my muscles are repairing themselves and grow.

Rest is also essential to maintaining a workout regimen as well. If you are always tired, how are you going to achieve your best during your workouts?!?!?

My suggestion, start out by going to bed 30 minutes earlier than your usual time. Do not watch TV while lying in bed. Once you've mastered the 30 minutes earlier routine, start to go to bed another 30 minutes earlier. Keep this up until you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep and do not go over 8 hours of sleep. There have been sleep studies that anything over 8 hours of sleep really doesn't benefit your body. Besides, who wants to sleep away their day?!?!? You can sleep more when you are dead!

5. Letting old habits creep back into your routine.

This happens! It happens often to the best of us. My old habit of eating after dinner has tried to creep into my routine again the last few weeks. However, I realize that I am doing it and I've been doing a lot of self-talk and I've been working on it over the last week. It isn't easy for me to not eat that late at night. I have to make a very driven choice all day long to make sure that I am eating enough protein and not eating too many sugars during the day so that I don't slip up at night. If I have enough protein (which keeps me satiated longer) and I'm not eating too many sweets (which makes my blood glucose spike and drop) during the day, I tend to not feel hungry after dinner and it helps me maintain my calorie consumption within my daily budget.

My suggestion when faced with old habits is to first recognize why your old habits have crept back into your routine. What are your doing differently than when you had kicked these habits to the curb? Are you bored with your current workout routine and/or diet? Are you eating bad foods out of convenience? Once you have recognized the why you should remember how you originally kicked the bad habits and try to mimic what worked for you the first time. We are creatures of habit. Whether bad or good, if we are able to kick the bad habit once, we can do it again!