Not to start out all “science-y” on you, but the nature of metabolism is to burn calories as efficiently as possible. What this means in layman’s terms is that your body wants to burn as little calories as it takes to complete the task. Yes, you heard me right…your body doesn’t want to burn a lot of calories, it doesn’t want change.
Your body loves the familiar because it’s designed to conserve and preserve energy (read calories) for times when there may not be food available. That may sound odd these days, however if you think back to very early civilization people could go very long periods of time while they searched or hunted for their next meal.
How this relates to your New Year’s resolutions is that your body is very good at…
- Resisting change in general
- Adjusting to change rapidly in order to burn calories more efficiently (aka less calorie burning)
I know that may sound confusing because when we hear the word efficiency we think good things. And in all truth, this is a good thing. Unfortunately, not necessarily good for transforming our hips, butt, and thighs as fast as we’d like.
So how do we fix this?
Well, there are a variety of things we can do, however for the sake of this blog we’re going to focus on minimizing the things that trigger our body and metabolism into needing more efficiency. Otherwise known as, a slower metabolism, less calories burned and a longer, more difficult journey to losing weight.
Before you starting freaking out, this isn’t something you necessarily have to worry about, however it is important for creating awareness so you can check or evaluate your thoughts, behaviors, and habits.
Simply put, it should help you to better recognize habits that may be affecting your progress. Once you identify them, you can then adjust accordingly.
So what are some of the reason your progress and resolutions are slipping?
Let’s dive in.
Weight Loss Resolution Robbers
For most people, they’d rather start exercising versus getting rid of their favorite food and changing their eating habits. They believe if I workout more, I’ll burn more calories. Some believe they can just burn off the crap they ate or even outwork their faulty eating habits. And even more unfortunate is that we’ve been sold over and over again that doing more, and more and more exercise is good. Go run, bike, swim for 30 minutes, 90 minutes, or 3 hrs!
Adding more and more isn’t necessarily better, any and all exercises have diminishing returns at some point. This is especially true, if not programmed properly (scientific programming is KEY!) and integrated with a nutrition plan to support it.
Exercise can help you lose weight. Excess exercise can trigger burning the wrong weight (muscle), chronic stress, and increased fatigue and cravings. All of which lead to a domino effect of bad behaviors and rebounding weight gain.
In summary, it’s important to mix and match your workouts (see my tip below) to avoid stressing your body out leading to the efficiency problem I previously mentioned and a preservation of more calories.
My simple tip: There are two parts to this…
- When you go hard, heavy, and fast, also known as high intensity training, keep it short and sweet. This will vary depending upon your fitness level, however a general rule of thumb is 15-30 minutes. These are best done when you’re feeling good, have good energy and a good mindset. These workouts help to rev up your metabolism and maintain or build lean muscle.
- When you’re feeling stressed, anxious, and more physically, mentally, or emotionally run down then choose a low to moderate intensity or even restorative level of training. Do this for longer periods of time such as light weights, yoga, stretching or foam rolling, and long walks. 30-90 minutes is a good range. These workouts help to relieve stress and improve energy levels.
I experience ridiculously informed, well read, and educated women everyday in my work. Unfortunately, a good number of them are such perfectionists that all of the information and education they’ve gathered has become a hard filter of overanalysis; paralyzing them in inaction.
They’re such a “nit-picky” perfectionist, that no matter how small a mishap they have, they beat themselves up. Actually, more often than not they’re so obsessed with doing it all right, that they’re frozen in the fear of potentially messing up.
I get it! There’s a ton to learn, understand and apply and it’s hard, however there’s also a way to not be so all-or-nothing that it’s either completely debilitating or complete destruction. This obsession triggers a similar stress response to that of excess exercise and therefore can lead to the body resisting change and storing calories again.
My recommendation is something we call the, “Start Small Principle”. We talked more about this in our most recent weekly Momentum Monday email. Read more…
My simple tip: Pick one thing or maybe two at first that you absolutely know you can add and be consistent with. Use this consistency to build confidence and momentum before you add more.
Remember that your body wants to preserve calories in order to conserve energy until you absolutely need it. If you’re eating too little, your metabolism adjusts (slows down) in order to preserve precious calories even more efficiently.
This also occurs when the food we eat lacks the nutrients you need. If you lack the variety and high quality nutrients you physiologically need to function effectively your body begins to experience stress.
This has a compound effect when you’re exercising more while eating less. You at minimum need to eat an adequate amount of calories to fuel your training. If you have enough calories, but not enough nourishment (because you’re eating mostly processed foods and other junk) you’ll still trigger a stress-response; burning less calories than usual.
The goal is to create a small caloric deficit (burn more than you consume) on a daily basis over a consistent period of time.
My simple tip: Consume a variety of high quality foods to provide your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to nourish the system. This helps to effectively minimize stress, provide energy, and burn fat.
When you’re exhausted and just trying to make it through your day, you don’t have the mental energy or will power to care much about anything else. Unfortunately, this is only a blip of the problems that come with trying to lose weight while getting little or crappy sleep.
Studies show there is a direct correlation between low quality sleep and an increase in the hormones that increase hunger and cravings.
So before you start blaming yourself for smashing a tub of peanut butter or missing a workout, I’d check out your sleep quality and duration. Your goals might not be going off the rails because you lack willpower, but rather your lack of a consistent good night’s rest.
I recommend shooting for a minimum of six and a half hours of high quality and more if your sleep quality isn’t as good. A good sleep can help reset your hormones and increase your mental fitness; setting your day up for success.
My simple tip: Step away from all digital devices about 60-90 minutes before while you finalize today’s activities, plan for tomorrow’s responsibilities, prepare yourself to wind down, and your bedroom for a great night of sleep.
What if I told you there really is a fountain of youth? Ok, it may not be a beautifully tropical fountain pond looking thing, but we do know this one thing does a lot of amazing physiological “magic” to keep you looking and feeling younger. What is it?
Moving heavy things.
Most women only think of lifting as something to add muscle and “bulk” you up. However, resistance training also revs up metabolism and “flushes” the system by increasing circulation helping to rid the body of toxins.
When you add muscle from lifting weights you gain more calorie-burning tissue which helps make it easier to stay lean. There are very scientific ways to weight train, however for sake of time and commitment, I recommend you overload. That’s it. Overload simply means to choose enough weight & reps to overload your muscle.
Don’t overthink this…pick a movement such as a squat and then just pick something up that makes you feel like saying, “oh my gosh, this is pretty stinkin heavy”. This might be a bag of dog food for your squats or a couple gallon jugs for your bicep curls. There are plenty of things we have around the house to create a load of resistance that overload our muscles.
This will stimulate change. It will stimulate your metabolism. It will stimulate muscle growth. It will stimulate so much more.
My simple tip: Lift heavy things twice a week at minimum. Pick 3-5 exercises and do each exercise for one minute straight or until you break form for 2-3 reps in a row. Take a rest as needed and then finish the final seconds of that minute or move on to the next exercise and repeat.
***CAVEAT*** Form and technique are critical. You should always learn and maintain good form as you lift more weight and as you get fatigued (towards the end of a set or workout). These are the two places form and technique breakdown the most so pay special attention to these.
If you’re starting to feel your resolutions slipping, don’t quit! Take a minute (or a few days if needed) to check if any of the above are really the reason behind your stalled weight loss. Despite what you may have heard, you may be surprised by the results of doing something a little different than “what everyone else is doing”.
If you’re still having trouble, you can always contact me HERE.