Do you feel like you've tried everything?
Are you strict with yourself yet you're still not losing weight?
Feel like you've been on a diet for ages but you're not getting any closer to your goals?
Well, the good news is that you're not alone; we've all been there. Of course, knowing that doesn't help you get any closer to achieving that final outcome so, let's take a look at what could be happening.
1. I eat 'a healthy diet'
You know that chocolate and cake every day is bad for you, that fats are good and not the enemy and that you can eat eggs without raising your cholesterol. You attempt to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day and you never skip breakfast.
This is all great and eating nutritious food which fuels your body rather than empty, sugary calories is definitely a step towards a healthier lifestyle. But, are you tracking how MUCH of that healthy food you eat?
I'm not talking about the veggies... generally speaking we can eat those to our heart's content and we're not going to see any weight gain. However, there is a whole heap of Instagram worthy food which may be preventing you from losing those pounds...
Just a few of the main culprits. Nuts are a wonderfully healthy snack, avocado tastes just amazing smushed up on sourdough bread, and coconut oil will add a healthy dollop of 'good fats' to your evening meal. The rub is that all of these foods will also add a healthy dollop of calories.
Losing weight requires a simple equation - consume less calories in a day / week than you expend. At just 250 calories for half an avocado, adding this 'good fat' to your lunchtime salad may well be throwing you over your calorie requirement.
What do I do?
Start logging your food on an electronic diary such as My Fitness Pal to keep a track of how many calories you're eating in a day. From there, if you're not losing weight, reduce your calorie intake by 100-200 calories initially, and then each week until you start seeing a change.
2. I do loads of exercise
Love your Boxercise classes? Perhaps you're a pro-stepper? Or maybe you've taken up running. Yet, no matter how much you exercise, those pounds still won't shift; what on earth is going on? How can you be the only human in the world who exercises yet STILL has tight pants?
Well, there could be a number of things that are causing this, but all of them lead to the same answer: despite the exercise, you're still taking in more calories than you're expending.
What do I do?
Rather than go over all the things you might be doing that will be causing this, let's look at how we can avoid it.
Exercise is good and it can help with weight loss but it's not a magical solution. The only thing - and I know I sound like a broken record but I'm not apologising for it - that will cause weight loss is being in a calorie deficit. Ensure you are by:
- Planning a healthy, low calorie snack for after exercise that you can have if you're hungry.
- ONLY eat after exercise if you're hungry; if you're not hungry, don't eat.
- Avoid energy drinks / bars / gels etc during or around training if you are exercising for anything less than an hour.
- Another Instagram favourite is the good old protein supplement. Whether it's drinks, bars, pancakes, brownies or balls, if you're trying to lose weight it could be that by eating these you're just adding excess calories. You don't need one just because you've worked out. By all means, use them as a convenient meal supplement if you so wish, but eating them for the sake of it will not help your weight loss.
- Make sure you're well hydrated before and after exercise. Exercise will dehydrate you and it's easy to confuse feelings of thirst with feelings of hunger. Not only will drinking lots of water help keep you feeling fuller for longer, but it will also help you power through that workout!
Above all, follow the golden rule: Don't eat your exercise. Look at the exercise calories you've gained as a bonus rather than as an opportunity to treat yourself.
3. I don't drink a lot, only at weekends...
It's unfortunate but alcohol provides us with no nutritional benefits what-so-ever. It does, on the other hand, provide us with plenty of calories and even 'just one or two' on a night out can tot up pretty quickly. In Britain, we're well known for being a nation of 'binge drinkers' and it's this Friday / Saturday night drinking fest that can cause you gain weight even if you've been keeping within your calorie requirements the rest of the week.
Let's take an example. It's Friday night and Greta's stopping out for a few drinks before heading home. She has 2 glasses of rose wine in the pub, then heads home. It's the end of a long working week and neither of them feel like cooking so have get their usual Friday night takeaway 'cheat meal' which she washes down with another glass of wine. Greta's Friday night calories now look something like this:
3 x large glasses of rose wine: 550 calories
Fish and chips: 800 calories
Total: 1350 calories
Saturday night Greta's on a night out with her friends. They meet up late afternoon so begin with something light like a fruity cider; later she moves on to share a bottle of prosecco with a friend; and they finish up in a club with some cocktails on a 2-4-1 offer. Feeling ravenous at the end of the night, they stop by a takeaway for a pizza before getting a taxi home. Greta's Saturday night calories look something like this:
2 x bottles of fruity cider: 480 calories
1/2 bottle of prosecco: 250 calories
4 x cocktails: 1000 calories
1 x 10" take away pizza: 900 calories
Weekend 'treat' total: 3980
Remember, this is ON TOP of the consumption of any other food that weekend and during the rest of the week.
Even if Greta has been cutting 500 calories a day from her diet Monday - Friday, that's only a deficit of 2500 calories. This means her weekend treats have amounted to MORE than she's saved in the week.
If this is a regular occurrence, your weekend is scuppering your weight-loss chances.
What do I do?
Is it an option to never drink again? To never have another takeaway? To never enjoy another night out with your friends? No, of course not. That's not sustainable.
However, if you're not seeing the results you want, it's worth looking honestly at your weekend consumption. It only takes a few treats or a night out to undo all the hard work you put in during the week. Here's a few things you can do that will enable you to enjoy your weekend and still stay on track:
- Choose lower calorie alcohol options - spirits such as gin, vodka and rum with a diet/slimline mixer will only amount to 60-75 calories per drink; or there are a range of lower calorie beers out there now containing under 90 calories per bottle as opposed to over 200 cals.
- Drink a glass of water in between every alcoholic drink - not only will this help with tomorrow's hangover, but it'll also slow you down and mean you drink less overall.
- Eat a low calorie, filling meal BEFORE you go out and have a 'just in case' snack prepared for when you get in. This will make you more likely to avoid the late night pizza cravings!
- Weight loss requires you to be in a calorie deficit. If you're not losing weight you need to make an honest appraisal of your eating habits.
- Exercise is something you should really seriously be considering. It doesn't have to involve a gym, classes, or a personal trainer, one major difference you can make right now is to simply walk briskly for 15-30 minutes a day more than you do currently. Just don't reward yourself with food afterwards!
- Cheats and treats can easily mount up and account for far more calories than we perceive. Take a look at what you eat AND drink at the weekends. It could just be that with just one social night out with your friends you're 'spending' all the calories you've saved in a week!
Spark Fitness is passionate about helping you realise your goals. Contact me for a chat and to find out how I can help you put the spark in your fitness journey.