It's so annoying, you work hard on eating well and working out but there's sill those last few pounds that you just can't get rid of!! Aaargh. You wonder what's going on, why am I not making progress? It's sooo frustrating! Well, here's the answer to that question and a few simple ways to help you get rid of those annoying few pounds.....
If you have found that your progress has stalled then it's probably because your body has adapted to the changes you have been trying to make to it - the human body is amazing and is very good at responding to change! Whether you realise it or not when you make changes to your eating pattern or what you physically do, this actually "stresses" your body. I don't mean stress as in you feel stressed out - but you are disturbing the balance that your body naturally has learned to function with and forcing it to change. For instance, if you are trying to lose weight and reduce your calories your body will adjust to cope with that reduction by burning fat. Or if you are working hard in the gym weight training then your body will adjust by growing bigger, stronger muscles. But if you've found after a while that you're no longer seeing progress here's a few things you can do...
1. Calories - make sure you're still in a calorie deficit - i.e. burning more calories than you are consuming. It's quite simple, if you don't overeat you won't gain weight. So make sure you're not inadvertently overeating. It may be that as your weight has dropped you need to reduce your calories - if you have lost a lot of weight you won't need the same amount of calories than you did at the start. This is one of the reasons why with my nutrition coaching clients we re-evaluate your calorie targets on a regular basis, to make sure you are still in a calorie deficit. These clients will not be on the same amount of calories at the start of the plan as they will be at the end, or in their "maintenance" phase - when they've reached their goal weight.
2. Drink water! Yes it seems obvious! Water helps maintain a healthy body in so many ways, it boosts energy, keeps your metabolism going, and helps you feel full therefore helps you manage your calorie intake. People can mistake feelings of hunger for actually being dehydrated, so make sure that you are keeping yourself properly hydrated.
3. Sleep - easier said than done if you are a parent of young children I know!! But if you can, make sleep a priority. Getting a good nights sleep is one of the best thing you can do for your body. Not getting enough sleep will really affect the hormone balance in your body and in particular it will increase your hunger hormone Ghrelin. That's the one that makes you want to eat cake all day when you've been up all night with a baby! (I have been there!!). This in turn increases cortisol levels (another hormone that usually kicks in when you are feeling stressed). Cortisol encourages your body to store fat. Not good! This is also why if you are in a stressful job, or have a stressful home life you may find it difficult to lose weight. There is more to weight loss than you think and your job and lifestyle can play a huge part in it - this is why a good personal trainer will look at your whole lifestyle and not just the exercise and nutrition parts. If the other parts are not functioning properly you'll never get the results you want. When you do get enough sleep the body will release more of the hormone Leptin, which helps with feeling full and also (importantly if you are working out) HGH - Human Growth Hormone - which repairs and builds new muscle as well as boosts the immune system and fat burning. So you see, there is more to getting enough sleep than you might think.
4. Fibre-rich foods - simple and so easy to do. Eating more high fibre foods fills you up which helps curb your appetite. As well as also helping to keep your blood sugar levels more stable, which means you are less prone to sugar crashes which make it so much more tempting to reach for the biscuits.... A simple change from white bread or pasta to wholegrain can make a big difference!
5. Change your workout! If you've been doing the same workout routine for months then your body has probably adapted to this and is no longer finding it challenging. To your body, exercise is a stress, which is why your body changes to adapt - but this is stress that is good for you! When you exercise you effectively create tiny injuries to your muscles and bones (this is very normal and good for you - don't worry!). The body needs to recover from those injuries and this is how the muscles and cardiovascular system grow and become better conditioned, your bones become denser and so on. This is how you become fitter and stronger! So when you do the same workout regularly your body adapts to the "stress" you are placing on it, your workouts don't feel as challenging and your progress slows. So, change what you are doing. There are many ways to vary a workout - change the exercises, the order, the length, increase the weights.... There is a popular saying in the fitness industry - if it doesn't challenge you it won't change you! And it's very true!
6. Workout intensity - shorter workouts at higher intensities have been shown to increase fat burn. So try a bit of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). They can help burn more calories during and after the workouts because of the effect the interval training has on the body. If you are short on time it can also be a great way to squeeze a workout in - you don't need hours for a HIIT workout, 15-20 mins is plenty!
7. Cut the booze - there are several reasons for this. First, you don't need the calories - alcohol is next only to fat in terms of the most amount of calories per gram . Second, it inhibits willpower and makes it easier to give in to those unhealthy choices (the 3 packets of crisps that come along with that glass or two of wine.....). Thirdly, it dampens fat metabolism (rate of fat burn) for up to 48 hours after you drink and it also promotes fat storage due to the hormonal influence it has on our bodies. That's not to mention hangovers! Which with two young, energetic children around is my idea of a living hell!! Yes. I enjoy a drink or two myself however if you have more than this you may find that the truth is this is what's holding you back from meeting those weight loss goals. I actually wrote a whole blog on this topic alone.
8. Don't drink your calories - and I'm not just talking about alcohol here. Drinking calories is such a waste if you are trying to lose weight! Drinks don't fill you up, so don't waste your precious calories on them!
9. NEAT - Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is just a fancy way of saying move more! We're talking about activity levels that don't involve exercise as such. So look for ways you can increase this in your daily life. Taking the stairs, getting off a bus-stop early, hoovering the house, pacing while on a phone-call (might also help shorten the call!) etc. Every little bit counts, and with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and desk jobs it can make a difference. You can also invest in a pedometer, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. A simple, cheap one can do just as good a job and will help remind and encourage you to keep moving, which over time can make a big difference to your waistline and overall health.
So there's a good few ideas in there to help you, I'm sure you will be able to fit one or two into your daily routine and it will make a difference! Feel free to comment below and if you liked what you've read please share with others who may find it useful!
Exercise For Mum's was created by PT mum Susan Flintoff. Susan is a busy working mum of two who specialises in helping other busy mum's fit health and fitness back into their lives, and hopes to inspire them to be the best mum they can be!!