It’s commonly understood that exercise should be part of any weight loss strategy. Working out burns fat, boosts metabolism, and makes the body more efficient in just about every way. But people exercising for weight loss are often sabotaged by one fundamental flaw in their weight loss approach, and that is mainly that they’re exercising for weight loss. Let me explain…
There are two types of exercise enthusiasts:
1. Those who make exercise a daily priority in life for health purposes.
2. Those who exercise occasionally for weight loss, usually because of an upcoming event like a vacation or wedding.
Exercising for weight loss creates many stumbling blocks simply because losing weight is such a confusing and misunderstood topic. If you’re following mainstream fitness advice, the odds are already stacked against you, because mainstream fitness advice is centered around profit…not health.
Why Exercising For Weight Loss Fails
If you’re exercising for weight loss and not seeing results, it’s hard to stay motivated. There’s nothing more frustrating than working your butt off and not seeing your butt fall off.
The following are 7 reasons you might be working out but not reaching your weight loss goals.
1. You’re not switching it up.
Doing the same ol’ exercise routines every day/week/month gets boring. Guess what, it’s boring for your body too, and boredom cultivates stagnation.
One of the most miraculous traits of the human body is its ability to adapt to stress. Exercising properly forces our cells to become more efficient, which results in endless health benefits for us, but it also means an eventual plateau in our fitness level. When this happens, our workouts become less of a challenge, and we stop seeing results.
Bottom Line: Don’t let your body get bored by always walking, running, or lifting weights. Keep switching it up and adding new workout routines to challenge your body in new ways.
2. You never increase exercise intensity.
If you’re not challenging yourself, it’ll be nearly impossible to lose weight consistently. You also won’t ever get stronger or break through plateaus in your training. This doesn’t mean we should physically pound ourselves into the ground every time we exercise, but a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood 3x per week isn’t sufficient to produce any significant changes.
Bottom Line: Push yourself to the limit sporadically by adding sprints, plyometrics, interval training, or some other highly demanding activity to your fitness routine.
3. You’re not strength training.
Metabolism ultimately depends on muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolic rate. This is why bodybuilders can eat 5,000 calories per day and still maintain a single digit body-fat percentage.
Consider this: You can jog on the treadmill and raise your metabolism for a few hours, or you can add a pound of muscle to your frame and raise your metabolism 24 hours a day. Would you like to burn fat in your sleep?
I thought so.
And ladies, don’t worry about developing big muscles like a man. The exact opposite will happen, actually. You’ll slim down, tone up, and get strong.
Bottom Line: Everyone should be lifting heavy things from time to time, whether in the form of weight-lifting, bodyweight exercise, kettlebell training, or whatever.
4. You’re focusing on calories burned.
Here is the game we play…
“I ate X amount of calories so far today, and I burned off X number of calories with my workout, so I have X amount of calories left for the day.”
Calorie counting only works for the most dedicated of dieters, and even then it’s not a healthy way to lose weight. Weight loss is not accomplished (in a healthy way) with mathematical equations, deprivation, waging war with your scale, or being imprisoned inside a smartphone app.
You cannot sidestep nature…ever. Attempting to do so always results in an equal and opposite reaction.
Restricting calories, instead of eating correctly, causes a decrease in thyroid function and a stunting of the metabolic rate. Then you find yourself saying, “Heck, I’m not losing weight any more and I’m starving, so I’m just going to eat!” So you eat, and gain back even more weight because your metabolism is wrecked.
Bottom Line: Eat real food, avoid processed carbohydrates, and limit carb and sugar intake.
5. You have high cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a hormone released during stress. It’s job (in part) is to break down energy stores so you have the power to work hard. This is a completely necessary and intelligent process, but if cortisol levels never return to normal (because you’re always stressed), the result is increased fat storage.
At a fundamental level, the body sees exercise as stress. Long cardio sessions, like spending an hour on the treadmill or running a marathon, can spike cortisol levels and cause the body to hold onto fat.
Bottom Line: The body thrives on short bursts of intense exercise for 10-15 minutes at a time. This allows cortisol to level off once it’s served its purpose. One study revealed that you burn more fat sprinting for 4 minutes than jogging for an hour.
6. You’re not fueling properly.
Marathon runners and bodybuilders will tell you that a high-carb diet is essential for fueling those types of extreme activities. While this may be true, it certainly isn’t healthy, and the average person exercising for weight loss simply doesn’t require it.
High carb intake equals high insulin levels which leads to insulin resistance and a host of other degenerative diseases. Weight loss is best achieved by limiting carbs and sugar anyway. Consuming adequate amounts of protein and healthy fats, which you’ll be forced to do on a low-carb diet, will help retain and even build muscle composition.
Bottom Line: If your workout sessions are under an hour, even with high intensity, you probably don’t need to “carb-load” like an athlete. However, if you’re reaching exhaustion during exercise, you may need to increase carb intake, but do so from yams, sweet potatoes, and squash rather than pasta, bread, and cereal.
7. You haven’t changed your diet.
80% of weight loss is achieved in the kitchen, not the gym. The gym is where we get toned and strong. The kitchen is where we lose weight and nourish ourselves. If you’re eating processed carbohydrates, diet bars, and cheap weight-loss shakes, don’t expect to retain your progress for long. You’ll eventually hit a plateau and destroy your health in the process.
Bottom Line: Eat food that comes from nature (plants and animals), not a box or bag.
You wouldn’t know it from looking around, but the human body is genetically designed to be lean and strong. If yours isn’t, you’re likely breaking some or all of the above “bottom line” rules. Weight loss is effortless when we follow the body’s innate programming.
Weight loss products and TV commercials don’t have the answer. Your body does. Concentrate on doing healthy things and weight loss occurs naturally.