Working out and Still Not Losing Weight?

Are you watching what you eat, exercising often and still feeling like you’re not losing that stubborn weight? The truth is that watching what you eat and exercising often (or even a LOT) is not specific enough and may be a bit “safe” as we can’t really measure these areas.  If we are honest with ourselves, there’s a very good chance that we are totally capable of trying a little bit harder in both of these areas.

Total-body wellness is a lifestyle. Fat loss happens when you ditch the scale, find an activity you enjoy, and start to see food as fuel instead of something to feed your emotions or occupy your time.

No matter who you are or what you’ve been through, chances are that you are struggling because of one of these 7 reasons….

1. You’re eating the wrong foods

A calorie is just a calorie? While this statement seems logical enough, our bodies respond to the nutrients it needs to burn fat and achieve the goals we are working towards. If you aren’t losing weight, you should begin by looking at your foods. I know many people focus on burning off the calories in their workouts and they don’t take the time to plan out what they are putting into their bodies as fuel. Diet is responsible for 80% of our results. I’m not a fan of manuscripted “diets”, either but a good rule of thumb is to choose natural, clean foods most of the time.

Eat most of your starchy carbs (like potatoes, brown rices and grains) on the days when you do your strength training or more intense workouts. On your rest days or lighter cardio days, try sticking to more protein and veggies and limit your starchy foods. Cut out your excess breads, white sugars and anything that’s processed. Look for the foods that have the fewest ingredients on their labels (aka: less processed). If you can’t pronounce something on the label, it’s probably not something your body needs so put it back on the shelf.

2. You’re eating too much

If you’ve already cleaned up your diet big time and you’re still not losing weight, it may be that you’re simply eating too many calories. You know the saying, “Eat less and move more”?  In order to lose the weight, your body needs to be in a calorie deficit, meaning you need to burn more than you consume. That being said, you shouldn’t have to deprive yourself either. Life is about balance. Don’t become obsessed with counting calories or weighing yourself every day.

Eat when you’re hungry and eat slowly enough so you can stop just before you get full. Healthy snacking during the day will keep you from overeating during meals. I always carry a healthy snack in my purse, because you never know when you’ll need a quick snack and it eliminates any quick and unhealthy food purchases in my day. Also, don’t be afraid to give yourself healthy ‘cheats’ like a few chocolate covered strawberries for example. The moment you start depriving yourself from foods you love to crave is the moment you start to feel like you are missing out on something and want to binge.

3. You’re doing too much cardio

If I had a dollar for everyone who has told me they do tons of cardio and still don’t lose weight….(I’d have a LOT of dollars! lol) Yes, cardio is a necessary part of your workout routine. It keeps your heart healthy, boosts your metabolism, and gives you a good sweat (you should break one daily). The problem is, that only doing cardio (and doing too much of it thinking it’s ‘better’) can actually add to our problem. Longer cardio workout sessions, like staying on the treadmill or elliptical for 90 minutes, or going for regular 10-mile runs can eat away at your lean muscle mass, which is necessary in increasing the metabolism to burn more calories.

It causes the body to become more endurance-focused, storing energy as fat to ensure it has plenty of reserve fuel to keep you going for all those miles. Not to mention it dramatically increases your appetite, making you more susceptible to unnecessary snacking or overeating.

4. You’re not lifting weights

This one goes hand in hand with #3. I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t do cardio. If you love to run or bike for reasons other than losing weight, then by all means don’t stop. But if your primary goal is to lose fat,  there are other forms of exercise that give a much better result for your burn. The best way to lose weight and build a toned and tight body is by doing some form of strength training, in addition to your cardio. When your body has more muscle tone then you’ll be burning more fat.

You might not be ready to give up your cardio just yet, so you can start by adding in some interval training. This means you’ll be doing short bursts of maxed out intensities into your regular sessions. This is a much more effective way of waking up the hormones that are needed to target the stubborn fat stores. Then, add in some resistance training to your routine. If you’re worried about lifting weights, you can always choose body weight exercises instead. Try a round of push-ups, squats and lunges and you’ll get great results without an actual weight just yet. 🙂

5. You’re not working hard enough

There’s no exact equation to working out and eating healthy—it’s a matter of trial and error, finding out what works specifically for your body. Just because you spend more time in the gym, doesn’t mean you’ll become a fitter person. Unless you are an athlete, body builder or marathoner in training, the average Joe shouldn’t be working out more than one hour  a day.

If you are spending more than an hour in your workouts, I bet you aren’t working hard enough. The workouts should be based on the intensity; versus the time. Remember this simple fact; the harder you work, the shorter your workout time may need to be. That’s why is super important to make the most of your time in the gym or fitness classes so you can achieve that “afterburn” effect which keeps your metabolism fired up for 24-48 hours after. Pretty cool, right?

6. You’re not taking time to recover

Let’s say you do achieve that afterburn feeling and you’re feeling your workout the next day, those are the days to focus on different muscles. If you prefer to work the whole body at once, then plan a workout routine that works your entire body on oneday and then take the next day to do light cardio, a yoga class or just rest and focus on nutrition.

Recovery and rest may actually be more important than the workouts themselves. It’s during those periods that your body does most of the actual fat burning. So give yourself that time to fully recover so you’re ready to work hard the following day. Most importantly, listen to your body. Push yourself, but also give it some love, too.

7. Your body is too stressed out

Exercise is actually a stress to our body. When you have a healthy balance of exercise “stress” and proper recovery time, your body will be healthy and able to lose the excess fat. But if you’re not giving your body the right amount of time to recover, it can be a negative thing since you’ll start to produce extra amounts of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Cortisol is normal and important when we are working out, since it’s involved in giving our muscles the energy it needs to move.

The problem, however, is when our body is exposed to cortisol for long periods of time and starts to cause negative effects. One of these effects are the stubborn fat stores in areas you don’t want it. Exercise is no the only thing that stressed our bodies out and creates extra cortisol.  The problem multiplies when we are stressed out about personal or professional areas of our life. Obviously, when you stop exercising then you stop producing cortisol; but it’s not so easy to just turn off mental stress that may be wreaking havoc in your life. Make sure you are taking the time and energy to keep your mental and emotional healthy in check too. You should be working towards a total-body wellness goal…not just a simple “weight loss” goal.

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How to beat the scale once and for all!

Let’s be real about the scale.

Do you wake up in the morning and immediately jump on the scale? If so, does that number you read on the scale determine how you feel about yourself for the day? For example, a lower number is a great day and a higher number is pure misery? I want to help you put an end to the insanity of those daily weigh-ins. Deal?

I always believed that weighing in daily would help me stay on track when I felt unhappy in my goals. I realized that this practice only kept me stuck at the same place and isn’t that the definition of insanity? I had to learn the hard way; by going through the ups and downs and emotional struggles of this phase many women seem to get stuck in so I want to help you NOT do what I did and get results sooner and keep them long term!

Why are daily weigh-ins a bad idea? First of all, our weight naturally fluctuates a couple of pounds every day- and even within the same day- depending on what food and drinks are inside of us and how much sodium we’ve consumed and whether we’ve used the restroom recently. ahem…

How about when you start drinking more water and you decide to chug down 16oz of water at one time? That’s a whole pound added to your weight right then and there. So does that mean you’ve gained weight if you were to jump on the scale cuz you feel fat? Of course not!! You cannnot gain actual pounds so simply and insantly. But think about it, if you decided to weigh yourself after any of the above takes place (which are actually quite common these days), wouldn’t you freak out and think, “o my goodness! I gained weight!! What did I do wrong? Maybe I won’t eat for the rest of the day!”

Right? Ya, you know I’m right! 😉

Let’s start with sodium. How is it that sodium has zero calories and yet makes our weight fluctuate so much? Sodium has the power to turn our curvy bodies into a bloated water balloon shape. Excess sodium makes our bodies retain water and this makes us weigh more because we are bloated. 

True story.

Now let’s talk about the monthly hormonal evilness; otherwise known as our “periods”. Many women actually gain a few pounds before and even during their periods. If you are drinking water, exercising, eating a healthy and clean food plan, getting plenty of sleep and limiting caffeine and sodium then it’s just some extra water weight that will simply go away after your period ends.

But what if you’re not doing any of the good habits above? What if you are not drinking water; exercising; eating healthy and clean foods; getting plenty of sleep; limiting your caffeine and sodium? What then? Then some of the weight that you see added to your body will be actual weight gain that is here for the longer haul. So the best tip I can share with you about your periods? Be healthy and do what you’re supposed to do to look and feel your best; both inside and out! And for goodness sake, do not EVER freaking weigh yourself right before your period or during your period unless you want to feel like crap and beat yourself up for no good reason.

Now, I know that weigh-ins can have a positive spin when we are following a plan that works and working to reach some goals; such as losing said weight, right? I’ve actually thrown my scale away and I measure my results by the measuring tape, picture progress and fitness gains. If I ever feel the desire to check my weight (which I just don’t like to do for obvious reasons), then I can drop in to a family or friends’ home and use theirs. Cuz everyone but ME has a scale, right?? lol

I suggest the best time to weigh yourself is right after your period ends. Once a month is enough time to see actual weight gains and weight losses if you are doing the weigh-ins at the same time of day and the same time of month. Some women prefer to do 2x a month weigh-ins and for the best plan in this scenario, I recommend right after your period ends and then exactly 2 weeks after. This system helps us not be swayed by the scale and finally get control of our real results instead of a “number” that is usually skewed.

I don’t own a scale for two reasons; 1) I noticed the pattern of how it made me crazy and actually had ruined my good efforts more times than I’d like to admit and 2) my body just weighs more because of muscle. You’ve most likely heard that “muscle weighs more than fat” but it’s really not technically true. A pound of muscle and a pound of fat weight exactly the same. It’s kind of like a pound of rocks and a pound of water both weigh the same – they weight one pound. The reality of what this popular saying means is that a pound of fat takes up more space than a pound of muscle. (think the rocks and water analogy again)

I know this is a confusing topic to understand so check out this photo. You can see that the pic on the far left is the same girl in the other two photos and yet her weight is the least on the left and looks like more than the photo on the right, RIGHT? 🙂  The picture on the left looks larger than the picture with more muscle tone. So when you step on the scale thinking that weight is relative, you are not taking into account how this picture tells a whole different story! a picture is worth a thousand words! 

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 8.58.55 PM

So my body in reality weighs more than what most women would call a “healthy” range and now that I know the real reason why, I am so much happier not owning a scale because it doesn’t tell the truth. It’s a lying liar that lies!! I know it’s a bit tough to think that your ideal body could actually weigh exactly what you weigh right now (give or take) – but with that muscle mass taking up more space and the fat lessening within your body, you will look like a lean and toned woman!

One more bonus to using weights and focusing on healthier results: women with more muscle mass burn more calories even when doing nothing than someone who has less muscle. (even if the scale says the woman with less muscle weighs less) Are you confused? Basically, it’s non-negotiable for us to use weights…and I dont’ mean those itty bitty 2-5 # dumbbells. Building lean muscle is a great “trick” to reaching your ultimate goals and staying there long term!

Let’s talk about my favorite ways to measure our progress as we are working on achieving better results long term:

  1. Use a measuring tape. Just be aware that with measuring our bodies and when gaining more muscle, it can change the shape of some of the areas of our bodies (in a great way) which may or may not be skewed in our progress. If you are working on your butt and it becomes lifted and more rounded, it may appear to take up more space than a flatter booty so be aware of the best areas to measure monthly. I like to measure the smallest part of our waist and the fullest part around the hips (standing, with feet touching), upper thigh areas, widest area around chest and upper arms (or bicep area).
  2. How our clothes fit. If your clothes feel looser than before and it’s not because you’ve stretched them out intentionally, then that is a good sign you are losing inches; aka: body fat!
  3. Taking pics and comparing. This is a game changer and I never really practiced it until I was training for a fitness competition and knew it would help me see all the changes happening on my journey. It truly was a jaw dropping transformation! The scale never truly moved but my pictures and measurements were off the charts in how much my body changed! Take your before and after pics in the same outfit, with the same background and the same poses for accurate changes.
My weight never changed in any of these phases but you can see my body was changing.
My weight never changed in any of these phases but you can see my body was changing.

Does that make more sense now on why the scale isn’t the best way to see our true results? I mean, if you want to see the numbers change based on how much water or sodium you’ve had in a given day; then go for it! But if you’re looking for real results and long term changes that make all the difference, then pay attention to the above results and ditch the evil scale! 🙂

Need more help with your training? Shoot me a message and let’s chat about your goals!