September 7, 2018 10:10 AM NPT
By: Aditi Sharma
Losing weight can be very tough. Sometimes it feels like you are doing everything right yet you are not getting the results you want. We have all been there and we are all familiar with some of the big weight-loss mistakes everyone makes (like skipping breakfast, having only protein, and skimping on veggies). But there are some sneakier fitness flubs that you must avoid too. Over time, these seemingly small mistakes can really add up, and may even cause you to put on weight or reach a plateau phase in your fitness program.
Here are five fitness blunders that I have been steering clear of for a while now and, needless to say, the results have made me very happy.
Blunder #1: Eating too little
While eating too much food is the most obvious cause of weight gain, eating too little can also hinder your ability to shift the weight. Your body has a natural instinct to protect itself so when it is not given an adequate amount of food and nutrients it will automatically go into starvation mode causing the metabolism to slow down and the body to hoard food as fat. As a result, it will become difficult for you to lose weight. So don’t try to eat as little as possible. Eat what you need. Just make sure you don’t eat whenever you want and create a fixed eating timetable. I find eating in a time window of nine hours works wonders for me. I have my first meal at nine in the morning and then make sure I have dinner by six in the evening. This gives my body ample time to process the food I eat and use it for energy while keeping my metabolism up.
Blunder #2: Not varying your workouts
It isn’t bad to work out every day. Doing some form of physical activity each day is smart when you are trying to slim down. But if you want to lose weight, repeating the same workout mode, intensity, or duration day after day won’t work because your body adjusts to the daily workload and you hit the dreaded weight loss plateau. Develop a workout schedule that involves different activities, different intensity levels, and different session lengths. For example, if you normally walk for 40 minutes, keep that activity on your workout schedule two or three days per week. But as an added challenge, walk for 60-75 minutes one day during the week. You can also opt for cycling workout on some days. If you are healthy enough for vigorous activity then HIIT workouts that have been shown to be really effective at burning fat can be one of the options for you as well. By incorporating more variety into your schedule, you can work out every day and avoid burnout as well.
Blunder #3: Doing only cardio for weight loss
Those who embark on a fitness journey often have weight loss on their minds. That’s fine, but how they go about it is usually far too single-minded and thus, at the gym, they are on the treadmill or the stationary bike for hours. However, research shows that if, out of a workout session of 45 minutes, you spend 25 minutes on strength training and 20 minutes on slightly higher-intensity cardio, you will be able to achieve far more dramatic results far more quickly. The new concept is weights for the main course and cardio for dessert. I have learnt the hard way that if you are looking to change the shape of your body, have more definition, and feel stronger, you must include weight training. There is no other way out. And because muscles burn calories at rest, you become a more efficient fat-burning machine. Also, as you get stronger, you will find that you can do more work, be it cardiovascular workout or your daily chores and more work equals more calories burned.
Blunder #4: Not wearing the right gear
You might be tempted to exercise in an old pair of track pants or leggings and a t-shirt and though there is nothing wrong with that, studies have shown that wearing the right clothes and shoes while working out can not only minimize injury but it will also motivate you to keep at it. Experts say that wearing flattering clothing can actually improve your attitude about exercise and, thus, your motivation to get out and actually work out. On a practical level, you need special workout clothes simply because street clothes are either too constricting, or they will rip, or they are made from non-breathable fibers. But psychologically, you need special workout gear to convince yourself that it is time to work out. I find that I workout with enthusiasm and with a certain dedication when I’m wearing the right workout clothes. Also, the right shoes are really important for good posture and also to prevent sore leg muscles post workout.
Blunder #5: Not listening to your body
‘I knew I shouldn’t have done that.’ There’s a good chance you have said that to yourself at least once in all the time you have been exercising and pulled a muscle or hurt yourself in other ways. That’s not a case of hindsight being 20/20 but your body telling you beforehand that it wasn’t ready for whatever it was that you were putting it through. When exercising, it’s very important to listen to the signals that your body sends about what is happening to it. These signals will tell you if you are pushing yourself hard enough or if you are holding back. Unfortunately, interpreting these signals can be difficult, especially if you are new to exercise. But you have to learn listen to your body so that you safely push yourself during your workouts. It will take some trial and error but it’s very useful once you learn to understand and respect your body’s signals. If you listen to your body, I can also promise you that your eating habits will improve and you will lose weight.