By LaBri Krahn and Nicole Yamanaka
It’s frustrating, isn’t it? You’ve started the weight training program, working out 3 to 4 days per week, the appropriate intensity, cardio, conditioning…all that jazz. You feel like you’ve made changes to your diet and still, after a month, the scale hasn’t budged a bit.
Sure, you’re stronger and have better endurance, but where are the looser fitting clothes? No shift in physique? Something is up! At Le Physique, we’ve had hundreds of clients share personal stories of their struggles and triumphs, and discovered the biggest mistakes they made, that kept them frustrated and feeling fat (even though they were kick ass, amazing and strong…you know how feeling unfit just feels).
Let’s talk about the top 8 reasons you’re not losing weight and shedding body fat. Beyond a discussion around hormones and stress (coming soon!), these are the biggest mistakes that NORMAL people make, EVERY DAY that are free to fix, simple to switch and can make a HUGE difference. Are you guilty of any?
1) Eating without a schedule
You’re skipping breakfast, missing meals and snacks, and eating way too close to bed time.
a. Studies show that people that skip breakfast often have higher sugar and fat intakes, and have an overall higher body fat, than those that eat breakfast.
b. By skipping meals, a part of you may think, “oh, I didn’t need those calories anyways,” but seriously – your blood sugars dip, your motivation drops, it’s hard to focus and no one I know enjoys being “hangry” (hungry + angry). There have been days that I’ve somehow missed lunch (its 4pm already?!?) and I snap at the person beside me, and then forget where I put my pen….darnit!
c. Eating too close to bed time can have a stimulating effect on your body’s system, and during sleep, this is the time for recovery and regeneration, not digestion.
2) You eat on the run or while multitasking
You’re busy, you have to multi-task, and eating in the car or on the go is just a part of your routine. Questions I ask my clients (that eat on the go), are:
a. Exactly what are you consuming? Home made stuff or something from a shop? Items purchased may show an ingredient list, but the goal at a restaurant or a coffee shop is to create TASTY and (relatively) healthy items, but you have no idea how much of what kind of nasty chemicals, fats or processes go into that item. Sure, once in a while is fine but if this is several times a week, it sure adds up!
b. How much of it are you eating? Serving sizes have doubled or even tripled in the last decade. If you’re just wolfing things down for expediency sake, it may not be the best strategy.
c. Are you standing or sitting? You can pack in a lot more food while standing, before the satiety (feeling full) reflex kicks in. Try and avoid those extra unnecessary calories!
3) You’re eating with the wrong crowd
When you’re staring at the menu, and your colleagues or friends are ordering the smoked meat poutine with extra gravy or New Yorker porker pizza…it’s really difficult to be the only one asking for a grilled chicken breast on the Santa Fe salad with dressing on the side. Make a mental note of what your friends or colleagues are eating. It is obviously more difficult to eat something healthy if everyone around you is eating unhealthy food that smells delicious. Personally, I ate the best when I was lunching with girls that were training hard for body building competitions and it felt great! They ate a ton of food, but the choices were healthy and inspiring. They were aware of what was going in their bodies and helped me to focus on what was going in mine. It’s important that the people you are with are fully supportive of your goals and help keep you on track.
4) You’re not paying attention to your food
If you don’t know whether or not you should be eating something, or are unsure of the nutritional facts, chances are it’s not a quality food item. My favourite moment is when clients ask me if they should be eating XYZ, and 9 times out of 10, they KNOW the answer, but were secretly hoping I’d say, “Wow, that’s a great idea! Definitely eat more of that!” I just need to ask them the question back, and they kind of sheepishly laugh and change the topic. I find that when I hold my clients accountable in reporting their nutrition intake, beginners are unsure of food they’re eating: What kind of sauce or dressing was added? What about the snacking while putting together your daughter’s lunch box? Did you remember that a coworker brought in trail mix and you grabbed a handful?? All these things add up. This is simply an exercise in being totally aware of what you are eating.
5) You’re distracted while eating
Talking, driving, walking, working, in meetings, playing Angry Birds, updating your status, emailing…these are all distractions that play a HUGE part in being aware of your food. If you’re not paying attention to your food…
a. It’s harder to notice the enjoyment you get out of the food. That amazing truffle? It won’t stimulate your senses as well if you’re trying to carry on a conversation at the same time.
b. It’s harder to notice when you’re feeling full. The sensation of fullness takes time to reach your brain as the stomach is quite stretchy. So when in fact your body is saying “I’m done, thank you!” and you’re still munching away!
6) You have no idea how hungry you actually are
Consciousness in day to day activities is really important. I’m referring to “being fully present and aware” of what you are doing, versus working off of “unconscious” reflexes and habits. Are you eating even though you are NOT hungry? Are you full but just keep going? Is your body starving for sustenance but you’re in high gear at work so you don’t even notice? Both ends of this spectrum can lead to extra, unnecessary calorie consumption.
7) Ignoring your mood and food
You may not realize how often you’re eating when you’re sad, happy, anxious, etc. Being aware of your patterns can help pinpoint times of over or under-eating. Emotional eating doesn’t always have to be because you’re stressed or sad – many cultures associate happy gatherings with food, so the munchies might hit when you’re laughing and having a good time with others. The important part is to discover if the association is triggering feelings of hunger, or is your body actually hungry?
8 ) Not tracking your food intake – on paper.
If you’re working out, you’re likely keeping track of the weights that you’re lifting, miles logged in your runs, number of yoga classes you’re attending etc. Why should your food intake (which you do several times a day, every single day) be any different? Food journaling is simple, free and can make a HUGE difference. The act of keeping a food diary can be a very revealing way to expose your eating habits. When it comes to weight loss, behavior modification is crucial. By acknowledging your eating habits, it is possible to change the behavior that is making weight loss difficult.
It’s important also to decide if you would like to keep your food diary private, or share it with a personal trainer or nutritionist. Ask yourself if you can be adequately honest with yourself and stay accountable to write down absolutely everything you consume throughout the day. If you have tried and failed in the past, the outside view of a trainer or someone well versed in human nutrition can provide an objective accountability and support to help you stick with it. Knowing that someone will be reading your food diary can be either terrifying or motivating.
Also decide how long you should keep the diary so that you can get the best idea of your average diet. If the food you eat varies a lot, keep the journal for closer to a month or longer. If you have habits of eating the same thing all of the time, you may not need to keep the diary for longer than a week.
So there you have it – the skinny on weight loss through the SIMPLIST and budget friendliest method ever – being mindful of your food intake and keeping a journal (or a nutrition diary). Thankfully in Vancouver, we have a multitude of healthy, vegetarian, fat free, low calorie, you name it food options at our fingertips and we are very savvy consumers, so if you’re noticing a pattern that needs changing, chances are if you look for, or ask for help, you’ll get it!
If you’re interested in learning more about strategies on making your journal easy to read, things that us trainers and kinesiologists look for when assisting a client make changes, or how to set up your own food log, let us know. A client of ours used social media to help her get motivated and had a lot of fun doing it! The possibilities are endless so just get started today!
Nicole has worked with one of BC’s leading fitness gyms as a top achiever with several awards in personal training and customer service. She is passionate about motivating, educating and expanding the minds of her clients and students to achieve more than just physical fitness. Nicole draws from her background and varied experiences such as yoga, rock climbing, kickboxing and pilates, to provide fun alternatives to “traditional exercises.”