Weight-loss can be tricky. It is common knowledge that we should consume fewer calories than we burn to lose weight, but there are A LOT of other factors. Not to mention that our bodies don’t think in calories. Calories are man-made. Our bodies “think” in nutrients; macronutrients and micronutrients.
Anyways, if you have noticed that your progress in the fitness department has slowed down or isn’t going the way that you want it, here are five things to consider:
1. You’re stressed. Stress is known as the “silent killer” and rightfully so. With all of the technology, deadlines, traffic, financial problems, etc. The majority of society is unfortunately stressed. Stress releases cortisol, which is commonly referred to as the “stress hormone.” Science has shown us that cortisol decreases muscle tissue and encourages the storage of body fat, and has been linked to other health issues that are more serious than gaining weight.
If you truly want to get lean and/or reach your fitness goals, then you need to make a serious effort to lower your stress levels. Easier said than done, I know! I personally spent the majority of my life being stressed and within the last few years, I have truly learned how to “de-stress” my life. The key is to surround yourself with positive people, get plenty of sleep and practice gratitude. I’ve personally worked on surrounding myself with positive folks and increasing the amount of sleep that I get. Sleep has always been an issue for me and these changes have done wonders for me physically and mentally.
Ironically exercise is stress on the body as well, so keep that in mind. It’s good stress, but that’s why rest and recovery are so important.
2. You’re not getting enough sleep. Not only does enough sleep reduce levels of cortisol, but it also produces growth hormones. Growth hormones encourage fat loss, immune system support, and helps keep organs functioning properly.
Sleep also balances the hormones that control hunger. If you’ve ever gone to bed hungry and woken up not hungry, this is why. On the flip side, if you miss a night’s sleep you are likely to eat more calories the next day. While it varies from person to person, most of us should aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Especially if you are on an exercise program, because this is when the body repairs itself.
3. You’re not drinking enough water. We are all probably sick and tired of hearing about how important water is to your health, but most people still don’t do it.
There’s a whole list of benefits to drinking lots of water. One major benefit happens to be proper kidney function. Dehydration impairs your kidneys, and when your kidneys aren’t working properly, your liver has to work twice as hard. Your liver is responsible for the metabolism of fat, which means fat cannot be metabolized as efficiently. Long story short, water literally keeps things flowing in your body. So, when you’re thirsty, drink water. Especially when working out.
4. You have poor digestion. The gut is incredibly complicated, and scientists are only scratching the surface when it comes to understanding how the natural micro-biome of gut bacteria works. One finding is clear though. Whether you want to improve your ability to lose fat, boost your immune system, clear up your skin, or even just feel better on daily basis, everything starts with gut health.
Unfortunately, most people don’t realize their gut isn’t functioning properly until it’s too late. However, there are steps you can take to help prevent malfunctions: reduce stress, eat fewer meals or even consider periods of fasting to give your digestive system a break, minimize the consumption of legumes, grains, sugar and pastured dairy, slow down when eating and take a probiotic.
5. You’re not eating enough fiber. Like “drink a lot of water,” this is another one that we’re probably sick of hearing. However, fiber aids digestive health and helps you feel more full, which makes consuming fewer calories easier.
Rumor has it that only 5% of Americans get enough fiber. Most of us assume we’re getting enough from grain-based products like bread and cereal, but the reality is these highly processed foods have been stripped of their nutrients and fiber. Instead, eat more fruit and vegetables, and opt for whole grains, like brown rice and steel-cut oats.
Notice how most of these are connected as well? Likelihood of accomplishing one leads to accomplishing another on this list and change is all about baby steps. The last important takeaway from this article is that the focus shouldn’t be on weight-loss anyways. Focus on fat-loss, or even better, just being healthier and feeling better. The rest will take care of itself.