During the initial evaluation, some Clients tell me that they seem to be doing everything right in terms of their fitness, but they don’t have much (or any) results. They tell me the stories of training for 90 minutes each and every day, seven days a week, faithfully sticking to their gym for years, starting their workouts at 5AM, because then, they have to go to work, sticking to exactly the same food, which they had established is good for them, not snacking in between the main meals. Yet, whenever they step on that scale (which often happens daily), the needle does not bulge!
What can a gal or a guy do to get out of this endless Catch-22 cycle?
Let’s analyze the above confessions. First, if the person claims to be working out for a long time, it is obvious that they do not use any intervals in their training. You see, working longer does not necessarily mean working any “better” or harder. Surely enough, our bodies get adapted to whatever the challenge we throw at them ad stop responding to the same level of stimuli, day after day (let’s say, 60 min. of treadmill at 3% incline and 3.5mph). Make sure you do introduce interval training: warm up, go at your regular speed you are used to, but then, some 8 times per session, introduce a steeper incline or/and a faster belt turnover. These “peaks” do not need to be long, just do that harder work for some 20-30 sec. and then, go back to your recovery level for another 45-60 sec., before doing another peak. Make sure you change your workouts, too. Do not “stick” to the same type of a workout or the same gym, or even the same biking path every time you are training. This can and will lead you to a full stagnation and it will halt your progress. Take a class which is very different from the one you usually take, go swimming instead of biking, sign up for a month at another gym, or make a point of not using a gym for one month and challenge yourself in all other ways possible! Moreover, if you introduce interval training, you won’t need to do the rat race on the treadmill for that long: typically, you’ll go for some 35-45 min. quick, efficient workout. You will, actually, save time! Second: never-ever exercise every day. Introduce one day a week of what we call an “active rest day”: go for a hike or a leisure bike ride, or a calm swim, or do some gardening. Make a point of relaxing and slowing down on that day. It is, actually, during these rest days, that our muscles really get stronger. They take their time to rebuild and strengthen, therefore, making sure your body will burn more calories even while not exercising than if your muscle’s place would have been occupied by fat, which is a slow calorie burner. Just by building muscle mass, your metabolic system will become more efficient at burning calories and fat.
Third, we have the person proudly telling me they start training at 5AM. But, when did you go to sleep the night before? Are you sure you are getting your 7-8 hours of sleep every day? If not, again, your muscles won’t recover well, your body hormonal system will be in havoc and you’ll hit the fridge more often through the day, given the hormonal imbalances, caused by the lack of sleep.
Fourth, as to the food: even if your nutrition seems to be well-balanced and healthy, please introduce some changes. If we stick to the same food day after day, we are at a very high risk of depriving our bodies of important nutrients.
Fifth: Yes, you shall snack! I know, it sounds almost hard to believe, coming from the mouth of a fitness specialist, but yes, you really want to have 3 solid meals and two (ideally, three) snacks in between them. Just make sure you are snacking on healthy foods and watch the portion sizes. Once you snack, you won’t be famished at the time of your main meal, and, as a result, you will eat less for that main meal. Also, snacking keeps our metabolic system churning at all times and it helps our body understand that we are not starving it. Along the same lines, get your hydration right. Make sure to drink lots of water or water with electrolytes. Drink a glass before your meal, so your stomach won’t be empty and, as a result, you will eat less!
Sixth, do not use that scale on a daily basis! I am almost tempted to say, do not use it, point, but I realize how people are attached to the numbers on their scales. Perhaps reduce its usage to once every 2 weeks or so, if you can? Pretty please?...
The weight is not any good measurement of your fitness success. In fact, while training and building muscles ad losing the fatty tissue, which is less heavy, but also takes more space in your body and is less healthy, too), you might, initially at least, plateau in terms of the weight loss. You’ll train and train and take your rest days and, nope, no weight loss! This is due to the weight of the fatty tissue versus how heavy a muscle is. However, it is the muscle which will get you healthy and will activate your metabolic system, not the fat. You will be losing fat and gaining muscle, therefore, the scale won’t bulge much. After that initial plateau, you will start seeing the numbers drop and you will also be more toned. The best way to measure your success is by noting the circumference numbers for the hips, waist, both legs, both arms. You can do it with a measuring tape or a piece of yarn. I like the yarn, because it is less stressful and does not put numbers on your struggles. For example, mark where your hip circumference is on the yarn and see how it changed in 4-5 weeks from the initial measurement. Also, I have great success with the before- and after- pictures - that works, too. In fact, the scale is probably the only piece of equipment I do not have at my Studio!
Let me know if and how I can help you in your fitness- and health-related goals. Let’s start sooner than later, it can only save you some medical costs later in life! Stay Fit-Fit!