I’m counting calories and working out and not seeing results. What’s the deal? Does this sound familiar? I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this.
As it turns out, there are plenty of things that could be countering all your hard work, from what you eat before your workouts, to what you do afterwards. Consider these seven things that might be sabotaging your well-deserved results and remedy them fast so that you can enjoy the result you’re looking for.
1. Too much stress
Working out and eating well are only two parts of the equation. If you’re leading a stressful lifestyle, there’s one thing that’s for sure: you’re going to have a harder time losing weight and achieving the flat, toned abs you’ve been lusting after. Stress can wreak havoc on your hormones, essentially training your body to retain fat. There is a connection between the stress hormone cortisol and weight-gain, particularly with abdominal fat in women. Look for ways to manage stress whenever you can.
2. Too little sleep
This goes hand in hand with too much stress. Sleep deprivation is a huge killer when it comes to productivity. If you’re not sleeping enough your body isn’t going to adapt as well to the positive influence of exercise. Sleep is essential for muscles to heal after a tough sweat session. Try to get a minimum of seven to eight hours of sleep by treating bedtime as an unbreakable appointment.
3. Too much of the same thing
It’s awesome that indoor cycling is your fitness passion, but that doesn’t mean it’s all you should be doing to stay in shape. “Variety is not only the spice of life,” but the key to getting a better, leaner, stronger body. There is not one single activity that can give you everything you need. Doing only cardio workouts or the same strength workout over and over means you are sacrificing the opportunity to build lean muscle mass and challenge your body in new ways. And you may plateau because of it. Create a weekly program that rotates through different modalities of exercises, (cardio, strength training, flexibility and core) in order to keep your mind and body engaged and changing. Try to fit in at least three strength sessions and three to five cardio sessions per week for best results.
4. Too few rest days
Going to the gym every day was a near-impossible ideal to reach, and yet now that you’re there, this frequency could potentially be the cause of your lackluster progress. Yes, you can actually work out too hard and too much. If you’re someone who goes all out in every workout, or rarely takes a day off to rest, you could actually be breaking your muscles down instead of building them. It’s important that you let your body rest and recover between workouts to achieve the best results and performance. It may be hard for you to do this, but know that you must allow your body the time it needs to rest and recover. Take one to two rest or easy active recovery days a week.
5. Too many or too few carbs
If you’re trying to lose weight, you may have made the common mistake of cutting out carbs completely in addition to exercising more. This is a mistake, but so is eating too many carbs. Skipping carbs before your workout can help you burn more fat, but we know it’s equally important to eat healthy carbs from fruit, veggies and whole grains after your workout to recharge.
6. Too little H2O
If your pee is dark yellow, you’re dehydrated! To get the most out of your workouts, make sure you’re well-hydrated. Staying hydrated could help you avoid overeating. A lot of people confuse thirst for hunger. If you’re craving a midday snack and want to make sure your pangs are caused by hunger, not hydration, have a glass of water first. Then see if you’re still hungry 30 minutes later. Always carry a bottle of water with you and aim to drink two liters of water a day.
7. Too hard on yourself
Lastly, here’s another thought to consider: Perhaps it’s not your results, but your expectations, that are a little off. So many people have a set idea of what they think the scale should say, that they only see disappointment when it’s not going down at the pace they want. Or they get so focused on one “problem area” that they ignore other positive progress. Bodies lose weight and shift composition at different paces, and (unfortunately) you can’t get your upper arms to tone up independent of the rest of you. Revel in the other victories you might be ignoring. Have you been sleeping better since you started working out? Is bounding up the stairs or lugging in the groceries that much easier? Have you taken time to notice that your favorite jeans are fitting a little better? Do you just feel better than you did before beginning your routine? Yep, I thought so.