There's nothing more frustrating than sticking to a healthy lifestyle for months, but not seeing or feeling any changes in your fitness or overall wellness.
The truth is, while you might be getting the big things right, like making time for daily exercise, there are a few common mistakes you could be making that will undoubtedly sabotage your healthy lifestyle (and weight loss) goals.
Stick to your healthy lifestyle by avoiding these mistakes:
Overindulging after exercise
The truth is, you can't outrun the fork! Many people think that if you exercise regularly, you can eat whatever you want. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to lose weight or simply be healthier, this is not the case.
To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you're consuming. So, if you don’t have a calorie deficit, you lose nothing even if you're working really hard in the gym. To gain insight if you’re trying to lose weight, it's a good idea to track your calories!
If you’re looking to be healthier overall, experiment in the kitchen and stick to a nutrient-dense diet that you can live with. Focus on feeding your body with food that will fuel and nourish it. Mindful eating is another way to avoid overeating. This means removing distractions like your phone or the TV, and concentrating on your eating.
Sticking to the same workouts
Exercise is hugely beneficial to your overall health and promotes weight loss. However, doing the same exercises constantly, while still good for you, will cost you results. While practice makes perfect, variety is the spice of life! The human body is the master of adaptation, so your body will improve whatever it's asked to repeat. This is amazing, until your body becomes so efficient at a certain skill that you no longer reap the physiological benefits.
When it comes to exercise, you want to vary your workouts constantly to challenge yourself and improve your strength and endurance. By training the same muscle groups in the same way, without rest, you run the risk of destroying your muscle fibres before they have time to repair themselves. Without rest and recovery, your muscles can't fully grow, which is why it’s also beneficial to work different muscle groups on different days and try different exercises. Work hard and smart by varying your routine every couple of weeks.
Some ways to switch it up:
- Increase your weights when strength-training
- Use different pieces of gym equipment in your workouts
- Change how often you do certain exercises
- Change how often you work out
- Increase the intensity of your exercise session by including shorter bursts of cardio to increase your heart rate
- Try a new fitness modalilty like rebounding to increase strength, balance and agility, while boosting your metabolism.
- Focus on working the same muscle groups but do different exercises
Avoiding all fats
Low-fat or fat-free products are not always healthier. In fact, many of these products on the market are loaded with excess sugar and preservatives to make them taste better. The right type of fat is essential for providing your body with energy and essential vitamins. But remember, not all fat is the same. Avoid artificial trans-fats and saturated fats found in processed foods such as cakes, sweets, chips and takeout like cheeseburgers.
Try to include unsaturated fats and omega-3s in your diet as they improve your mood, mental health and concentration. They also prevent heart disease, stroke and fatigue.
Healthy sources of unsaturated fats and omega 3s are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Fatty fish and fish oil
- Cheese (white cheese such as ricotta, feta, mozzerella)
- Dark chocolate (watch your portions)
- Chia seeds
- Peanut butter
For a great dose of healthy fats in one dish, try my avo, feta and nut salad.
Overtraining and undereating
This is one of the most common mistakes I see my clients making. But it's also the biggest reason for delayed progress because if you're not feeding your body with adequate nutrition, you can't expect to reach your fitness goals or feel your best.
Your car won’t run on empty, and neither will your body! Under-eating causes fat gain, as your body uses muscle for energy, and stores fat for survival when there aren’t enough calories to sustain it.
Here are some nasty consequences of overtraining:
- Poor performance (at work, in the gym, at home)
- Unable to keep up with your regular routine
- Feeling overly-exhausted after training
- Feeling tired and irritable
- Having a higher resting pulse than usual
- Intolerance to slight pain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Muscle damage
- Hormonal disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sudden and drastic weight loss
To reach your wellness goals and still see results, make sure to eat sufficient amounts of protein to repair your muscles, and carbs to up your energy levels. My favorite pre-workout snack is a fruit, like a banana or a quick green smoothie.
If you're working too hard without allowing rest days or fuelling your body properly, your efforts in the gym are worth more harm than good. Schedule a day or two off throughout your training regime to allow your body to recover.
Getting enough sleep is one of the very best things you can do for your health. It can help to boost your mood, sharpen your brain, stabilise your hormones and reduce your blood pressure.
Also, lack of sleep actually contributes to weight gain. According to a 2004 study, people who slept less than six hours a night were significantly more likely to be obese than those who slept for seven to nine hours.
Sleep deprivation is a key factor in causing heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone, cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can cause weight gain, particularly around the midriff area.
Sleep plays an important role in thinking and learning. Sleep deprivation impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. To optimise your sleep, try SleepSpec!
Living in a stressful state
Stress and anxiety are aspects of wellness that need to be monitored, as they cause the production of adrenalin. Adrenalin causes the excretion of cortisol. Too much of this hormone stores fat. This is why it can be really difficult to get results if you’re constantly super stressed.
Ways to reduce stress: