If you’re like the 45% of Americans that make New Year’s resolutions, there’s a good chance yours might involve the #1 most popular goal…
While a clean slate is always a beautiful thing to give it the ‘ole college try, the fact is, 64% of you will ditch your resolution by week #4. As in, right about… NOW.
Mind you, I’m not taking away from the minority of you that have achieved (or are achieving) successful weight loss from this specific resolution. Kudos to you!
However, I just don’t want to see you fail.
Ironically, I’m just about to finish up a class on the mechanics behind effective weight loss, and would love to help shed some light on this complex topic.
There are SO many mechanisms at play, governing whether or not your efforts will pay off or be in vain. These 7 things are what stood out to me the most in my studies, and may be hurting your weight loss efforts. Here’s how you can avoid them to stay the course!
7 Ways You Might Be Inadvertently Sabotaging Your Weight Loss
1) The Wrong Focus
First thing’s first. The mind cannot be underestimated; it is intricately linked with the body. One of the greatest revelations I had in my weight loss/health journey was in shifting my focus. For years, I focused on calorie counting, weighing myself, and tying everything to that number on the scale.
The thing is, weight loss really isn’t what you desire.
You desire to feel wonderful, confident, and HEALTHY in your own skin. We all know someone who is thin and unhealthy, after all; they aren’t one in the same. The simple shift of focusing on HEALTH instead of weight loss does wonders, really! Without health, we can’t feel our best or be our best. So, focus on an aspect of your health that you want to improve – be it better energy, better digestion, lowering your blood pressure, etc., and you’ll find that in your quest for health, a likely byproduct will be weight loss.
2) The Wrong Kind & Amount of Exercise
I used to log hours every week on the treadmill or elliptical. Hours! While aerobic exercise is important to health and weight loss, excessive endurance training (or “chronic cardio,” as Mark Sisson calls it) can sabotage your goals.
How? It causes chronic oxidative stress on your body, which elevates the stress response and raises inflammation. It’s difficult to lose weight when inflamed, because your body is most focused on damage control. For more on how “chronic cardio” is harmful, read here.
Rather than wasting time and beating up your body on the treadmill, focus on building MUSCLE MASS.
Muscle is the main metabolic driver that allows you to burn more calories while at rest, not to mention strengthen your bones. In fact, a pound of muscle burns 6 calories per day, whereas a pound of fat burns 2 calories per day.
Focusing on muscle-building activities to fuel your furnace 2 – 3 times per week will provide you the best bang for your time and your efforts. It doesn’t have to take you long, too! In fact, one of my favorite workouts is 4 minutes long. For more workout ideas at home or at the gym, check out my “Fitness” section here. And for more motivation on why exercise is about more than weight loss, read my post here.
Don’t discount any opportunity to MOVE, however. Every time you walk, clean the dishes, do the laundry, garden, take the stairs, etc., it is an opportunity to optimize your body, mind, and health further. Here are some small ways to engineer exercise into your day.
Our coffee-crazed culture often neglects to drink plain ‘ole water, but your body craves it and needs it! The average person is 55-75% water, after all. And the greater amount of muscle you have, the greater amount of water you are, because muscle contains much more water than fat. For more reasons to drink water:
- Water is essential to helping remove the toxins from your body that are released during weight loss. You want these out of your body, because they are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors that sabotage weight loss!
- Water creates an electrical potential for energy and nutrients during physiological processes. The more nutrients your cells receive, the better they’ll function to optimize your body weight.
- Water improves metabolic rate!
Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, aim for 100 ounces of water, or about 3 liters.
Struggling to achieve this goal? Buy a water bottle like this one (make sure it’s BPA-free), carry it with you, and add a squeeze of lemon or lime or an herbal tea bag for flavor. I promise it will help you.
4) Eating Too Little
That whole calories in = calories out formula? It doesn’t work for the vast majority of us. Dieting REDUCES your metabolic rate and DECREASES your lean muscle mass – two things that work against you! When you do eat more, it’s much easier to gain fat more quickly. Okay, three things against you.
Rather than focusing on cutting calories, focus on eating QUALITY calories in the form of balanced meals: Healthy proteins, fats, and carbs (mainly vegetables). This will fuel your cells and metabolism to function optimally, keep your blood sugar stable, and optimize weight loss. You have to eat to lose!
5) Too Little Sleep.
Sleep is essential to health and to weight loss. When you’re not getting 7 – 9 hours each night, your body cannot properly repair itself, leading to imbalances that can sabotage your efforts. Poor sleep raises your insulin levels, releases cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases your hunger and cravings for sugar – all things that work against you!
Do yourself a favor and hit the sheets!
6) Fat Phobia.
I was fat phobic for years. I threw away egg yolks, ate chicken breast, and even avoided cooking with too much olive oil. Thank goodness I came to my senses! I mean, our brain is 50% fat, for Pete’s sake… It is absolutely ESSENTIAL for health, optimal functioning, and yes, weight loss.
Fat helps with satiation, slows digestion (which helps stabilize blood sugar), adds flavor, and reduces inflammation.
There are, however, good fats and bad fats (namely vegetable oils!). Stick to these and your body will thank you!
Stress. It kills. It makes us fat. Whether it’s emotional, relational, or physical, stress can undermine any of these aforementioned aspects of health and weight loss.
It produces systemic changes that work against us: Increased heart rate and blood pressure, altered immune function, compromised digestion (and therefore, altered absorption of nutrients), hormonal imbalances, and of course, it can lead to emotional eating.
Whether journaling, doing yoga, drinking tea, going on a walk (my favorite!), calling a friend, getting proper sleep, changing the situation, or doing these things, learning to manage your stress is one of the best things you can do for your health – and weight loss!
For more on weight loss and achieving your goals:
- 5 Ways to “Un-Diet”
- 4 Reasons Diets Fail & What to Do About It
- 8 Steps to Achieve Lifelong Habits
- 9 Ways to Motivate Healthy Living