How many times have you promised to lose weight and said you were going to commit to building a healthier, stronger, fitter you only to get disillusioned when you didn’t see results?
How many times have you ‘been good’ only to see the scales barely move on weigh day?
How many times have you sweated through your clothes after going through a grueling workout, only to see the number on the scales stay the same or even go up?
If you can relate to any of the above you shouldn’t feel bad, because you aren’t alone.
Hundreds of thousands of people struggle with losing weight and most of the people that start a diet see their efforts end in failure, despite all their efforts in the gym.
If you want to know where you’re going wrong, read this article as I explain how most people ruin their weight loss efforts, maybe you’re even making the same mistake.
First, it’s important I explain what I mean by weight loss.
As a trainer and someone that works with clients day in day out to help them to shape and build their bodies, I speak about fat loss, not weight loss, however, most people don’t know the difference.
When you talk about losing weight, you are probably referring to seeing the number on the scales go down, without paying too much attention to your muscle mass or body fat levels.
In this article I am going to use the terms somewhat interchangeably but make no mistake, I am referring to the process of losing body fat whilst retaining as much muscle mass as possible.
That is how you achieve the much-coveted ‘toned’ look and how you actually build a strong and healthy body as you lose weight.
Within those few sentences, you’ve already been introduced to a key concept of changing your body.
The amount of fat you have on your body should be a bigger priority to you than the overall number on the scale.
I have personal training clients that have dropped body fat and looked visibly different but weighed the exact same or more than before.
Imagine that, looking better, slimmer and more toned, but weighing more than you do now.
If your only measure of success is the number on the scales, you could be on to a loser before you even begin as you miss the true signs for success in favor of the artificial markers.
It sounds almost ridiculous asking the question as it’s pretty much accepted that you need to eat less and exercise more, if you are going to lose weight.
Yes, there are exceptions for some people, such as those with medical conditions, but for the majority of people, exercising more than you currently do, and eating less than you currently do, is the winning formula.
But still, I asked you the question to get you thinking about what exactly you need to do and more importantly, why you aren’t doing it?
I don’t mean your gym efforts, I’m sure that’s going well, especially if you’re following the advice given in this blog, what I’m talking about is your food intake specifically and why you’re not eating like someone that wants to see their body change?
For most people, when they think of losing weight they often imagine themselves looking differently.
Their stomach is flatter, their arms look better and they can often move quicker, easier and better than before.
As a result, they head to the gym and start doing exercises to target those problem areas.
They might even try an exercise class or two to really ramp up the sweat and burn some extra calories but they’re often going about it the wrong way, working hard to achieve their goals but ruining their progress at the same time.
To really hammer home the point, let me tell you a story.
Some time ago I used to run a Thursday night HIIT class.
The routines were challenging and the music was pumping, people would leave the class dripping in sweat and they loved it.
There was a big group of friends that came every week and after talking to them one of the group told me how they loved their Thursday nights because they would come to my classes, burn off loads of calories then go to a local pub to get some food and drinks.
They were doing what most people do when they’re trying to lose weight but struggling to get results, they were overestimating the power of exercise and underestimating the power of food thinking that just because they’d worked hard in class, they could eat what they wanted.
When it comes to exercise what would you call a good workout?
But unfortunately, these things don’t mean anything when it comes to how many calories you’ve actually burned.
Sweat is just your body’s way of cooling you down, so sweating more, doesn’t actually mean you’ve worked harder at all, if that were true, simply turning the heating up would see us shedding the lbs faster than we could imagine.
In fact, someone who is extremely fit may work incredibly hard in a workout but not sweat as much as someone who is out of shape and hasn’t exercised in a while.
It doesn’t mean the out of shape person has worked harder, they’ve simply sweated more.
The same can be said for exercise ‘aches’.
Someone who is new to exercise is far more likely to suffer from DOMS (those muscle aches you experience the day after exercising) compared to a more seasoned individual that is used to working out in the gym.
Again, having or not having aches and pains doesn’t actually hold any bearing on how hard you’ve worked in the gym.
Yet when people sweat in a workout or feel as though they’ve worked really hard, they often view it as a sign of their hard work and how many calories they’ve burned.
They then go on to reward themselves with food and drink by eating way more calories than they’ve just burned.
Even more alarming would be the fact that there are over 500 calories in a Big Mac, which means you could undo all of your hard work in a matter of minutes with a few mouthfuls from McDonalds.
Now I know what you’re thinking, you’re smart enough not to go to McDonalds after visiting the gym right?
Well, the truth is, whatever you eat is very likely going to be very similar in calories to what you’ve just burned in your grueling 60 minutes of spin.
My point here is that whatever you did in the gym, it is very likely you will not have burned as many calories as you think.
Even if you have a way of tracking and recording your calories burned, it’s still not going to be enough to allow you to eat what you want.
Perhaps you’ve heard this before?
Well, it’s true.
And the reason is simple, it’s far easier to eat less and cut calories out than it is to burn them through exercise.
You would have to work at an intense level for way too long to actually achieve the type of calorie deficit from exercise alone.
By working hard in the gym, but eating what you want, you’ll struggle to stay in a calorie deficit and you won’t see any results.
And that is the mistake most people make.
They think that by simply going to the gym, 3, 4 or 5 times a week and by sweating up a storm they’ll actually be able to eat what they want because they’ve earned it.
Unfortunately, that couldn’t be any further from the truth and it’s the main reason why you won't see results from your efforts in the gym.
In order to truly be successful with your weight loss, you will need to be consistent at the gym and with your nutrition; just trying to exercise alone is going to make it much, much harder.
If you are going to eat something of higher calories, you would be best placed to track your calories and keep track of what you have eaten, at least that way, you won’t have to worry about your nutrition habits ruining your fitness results.