I have the opportunity to meet with people daily and get a chance to hear their personal stories and struggles. There are so many individuals out there trying to lose weight, and they just cannot seem to figure out what it takes. It typically boils down to two reasons why people end up seeking professional help:
1. They need motivation, accountability, investment, and appointments to keep them on track around their busy lives.
2. They don’t know what to do! There is so much information at everyone’s finger tips nowadays and putting it all together can be difficult. The general public doesn’t necessarily know how to eat in a way that is sustainable, nor how to exercise safely in a way that is ideal for their personal goals.
After countless meetings with people about weight loss, I want to share a few of the common reasons people have a hard time losing weight, before seeking professional help. There are definitely more possibilities than these listed, but these are the ones I see most often.
Not drinking enough water: This is one of the single most beneficial change anybody can make. Stop drinking calories and drink more water. Being fully hydrated helps boost your metabolism, suppress appetite, rid the body of wastes, and surprisingly reduce water retention in the body. Most nutritionists will advise to drink at least 8oz of water eight times daily and more if you sweat a lot. I personally drink over a gallon of water daily. Now if you have a medical condition always follow your doctors advice concerning water consumption. It might be a struggle drinking more water at the beginning for some, but after a while your cravings will change. Good habits are created just like our bad ones – with repetition.
Not eating enough: In an effort to lose weight, most people drastically reduce their calories thinking that is the way to go. An initial weight loss might happen, however, reducing calories too much can lead to several problems that will end up working against you. Such as, slowing down your metabolism, losing lean muscle, and lack of energy. Some people don’t eat enough! Life has gotten busy and their bodies have grown accustomed to a below normal calorie intake. Many of those in this situation have potentially slowed down their metabolism, making it very hard to lose weight. Yes, you want to eat in a clean calorie deficit to lose weight, but starving oneself is the last thing you want to do. If you need help in this area, work with a nutritionist or a trainer with a nationally accredited nutrition certification.
Eating too much: Often times we eat more food throughout the day than we think. Our body adds up every calorie consumed including the extra snacks, drinks, and condiments. I encourage anyone really looking to make some life changes to track their calories so they have an idea of what they are actually eating. Oftentimes people are surprised…and it can be eye opening. There are applications that can help you easily track your nutrition such as ‘My Fitness Pal’.
Not eating the appropriate macro-nutrients: The amount of calories we eat each day play a huge role in losing weight (or not losing) but the macro-nutrients making up those calories namely protein, carbohydrates, and fat play an important part as well. I generally advise higher protein, low fat, and moderate carbs when working with clients, but many factors are involved when determining the actual macro-nutrient numbers for individuals. Tracking what and how much you eat will give you a clear idea of what you are consuming. Eventually learning what macro-nutrient profile your body best responds to would be the ideal goal for sustainability.
Not exercising with intensity: While we can lose weight just by changing how we eat and drink, adding exercise to the mix will not only help shape your body, but help kick your weight loss progress into high gear. Resistance training of all types (body weight, cables, bands, dumbbells and barbells, etc…) will burn some calories. If done correctly, resistance training can help shape your body with new lean muscle enabling your body to burn fat more efficiently. My advice is to lift correctly with strict form, be intense, and keep rest periods shorter. Throw some cardio into the mix to burn extra calories in additional to general heart health. For those of you that hate regular cardio (running, biking, treadmill, etc) look into HIIT (high intensity interval training) which can be more exercise based and as short as 5-10 minutes if done correctly.
Hormone imbalances: If you feel like you are doing everything right nutrition and exercise wise, are working with a nutritionist and/or a certified trainer, but still cannot seem to lose weight, this might be the time to check with your doctor. Your doctor can run a hormone panel and see if they are in normal ranges. In some cases it is good to do this as a process of elimination.
Putting it all together: The best way to lose weight is by eating in a clean calorie deficit, resistance training, and some type of cardio. This three step approach will help you reach your goal faster, but also in a healthier way. Often times people have a hard time juggling all this and putting it together in a way that makes sense and is doable. This is when hiring a certified personal trainer, with an organization that is nationally accredited, can be worth the investment. Consider it as an education opportunity as well to learn these concepts from a professional who is passionate about what they do. When looking for a personal trainer be sure to read Google reviews and ask what organization has certified the trainer in question. Not all trainers are created equal.