Do you find yourself asking this question with a feeling of despair as you have been doing everything right?
Hopefully in this blog you will find some information that can help you and set you on a journey to reach your body goals.
Now let me kick off by stating that if your fitness journey is more inline with body building, then this information is not for you. This information is for the average person wanting to shed some body fat and struggling to do that.
I would also like to add that there are no quick fixes, if you follow the 'fads' you will gain all your losses as soon as you stop, and fads are generally not sustainable. So establishing a lifestyle that you can enjoy in the areas listed below, for the rest of your life, will be key in good health. Which brings me to the point that if this is a lifestyle you are working towards then taking the time to work out who you want to be, what you enjoy doing, and the foods you enjoy eating will be key to your success.
Ok so let's first talk exercise....
I'm going to be quick in these first couple of topics as I want to get to the third reason but here are some things you can change in your exercise program to help you out:
Have a mix of formats that you do - cardio (Zumba, running, skipping), resistance / weight (Full Body Workout class, Pilates using a prop), mobility / flexibility (Restorative Yoga, stretching).
Doing a hundred situps is not going to reduce belly fat, your body loses fat evenly (mostly) through the body, you cannot target one area (sorry I know you didn't want to hear that). Therefore you will be strengthening your abs however not reducing the fat on top of your muscle to be able to see your abs.
Be consistent. Just like eating one salad won't make you healthy, one workout won't give you results. So have a good routine of a minimum 30 mins a day or an hour 3 times a week with other activities on the in-between days (ie walks, playing with your kids at the park etc). As you add more activity to your life, the more you will enjoy it and therefore start making changes in your lifestyle.
Start off with a realistic amount of exercise. If you start with exercising daily doing 60 minute killer workouts, you will fizzle out pretty quickly. You are in it for the long haul, so choose three activities to do in your week and build up from there. You can start slow like walks in the park or a gentle swim. But make sure not to get stuck in that one routine - from there, build to more. Your body gets used to types of workouts so you need to 'trick' it by mixing up your activities.
Have a rest day.
Diet is a big reason why you might not be shedding the pounds. Honestly look at your eating habits and see if any of these could be an issue for you:
Are you eating too much....or too little? A good way to work this out is to use an app called MyFitnessPal (or one of the many apps that help you work out what you should be eating) - it is free and it allows you to get an understanding on how many calories you are eating in a day. This can help to show you if you are going way over or way under what is recommended for your sex, height, age and current weight. I am not suggesting you do this forever, but tracking for a few weeks can be helpful until you have a routine in place. It will also give you an understanding of what your 'problem' items might be.
Does it go without saying that regularly eating out (whether a drive through or at a restaurant) can quickly add layers of fat?
Take time to read and understand the labels on your food. First of all if there is a label, there is a 99% chance that you are eating processed food so should likely reduce these items. But if you need to eat something then know what you are putting in your body. If you cannot pronounce it, you might want to reconsider eating it! The FDA have this article about understanding food labels which is worth a read. This is an educational process and will take time before you know what foods you should limit.
Back to those calories, remember that a Diet Coke is 0 calories, but that does not make it a healthy alternative. In order to be 0 calories, it has two sweeteners in it, Aspartame and Acesulfame K which have negative effects on the body. Therefore the quality of your calories becomes more important. So reach for those fresh foods (not processed ie in a jar / packet / can) like fruit, vegetables, meat, nuts and seeds.
Are you drinking enough water - water is Earth's miracle. If you have bowel issues, drink more water. If you get headaches - drink more water. If your skin, lips, nails and hair are dry - drink more water. And if you want to manage your weight - drink more water!
The big thing people keep talking about is cutting carbs, now if we are talking pasta, bread, cake then sure reduce your amounts of these items (notice I didn't say STOP EATING THEM!) Fruits and vegetables fall into the carb category and these are foods that we need. Yes they have sugars in them and No that's not a bad thing. The sugars in these carbs are a not processed and refined. These are natural sugars which the body was designed to use. Load up on vegetables of all colors and eat fruit in moderation (just like everything).
Did you know that when you are stressed, your cortisol (stress hormone) levels increase which is why you gain or hold onto belly fat? Stress is the number one reason why you might be doing everything you need to be doing yet still not reducing the inches on your waist. This is great news (which doesn't always mean easy) as we can fix this!
Sometimes we have been stressed for so long that we don't even realize that we are stressed because it is how we always feel. Therefore we cannot always trust our thoughts or self diagnosis to tell us if we are stressed or not. But our bodies give us little hints ...
Place your hand on your belly and your other hand on your chest. Take a few breaths normally, not trying to change it at all. As you bring your awareness to your breath, you will notice it will naturally begin to slow down, but with that first breath or two, hopefully you could tell whether you had a shallow breath (ie is it only moving into your chest?), and whether it was fast or slow (12-16 breaths per minute is normal anything more than that is stressed breathing).
Are you tired all the time?
Do you get regular headaches?
Is your immune system low - ie you catch every bug that goes around?
Do you have digestive issues?
Do you have anxiety?
Do you have high blood pressure?
Do you have jaw pain from clenching?
Do you have a short reaction time to things that anger or upset you?
Do you find yourself scrolling social media for hours / shopping uncontrollably / drinking every day / gambling / OCD tendancies / no interest in sex or too much interest in sex?
Has your appetite changed - uncontrollable eating or no appetite at all?
Do you get a tightness in your chest frequently that isn't related to a heart or lunge issue?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you could be dealing with stress. To be fair, just living in modern day times, you are probably experiencing stress, add to that how our lives have changed during Covid, and even if you weren't dealing with stress before you are almost certain to be dealing with it now.
So now the next question is how do we go about relieving stress?
If your stress levels are high, then you may need to visit your doctor, so that you can try to take the edge off whilst you incorporate other new habits in your life to manage your stress levels more naturally.
Learn to breath in a way that will calm your mind and body. This (as always) is a big topic so instead of me writing up a huge explanation, you can check out this video I created on how to breath for stress relief. The reasoning behind it will be in a different blog.
Set yourself up to have a great night's sleep:
Put electronics away for an hour before you go to bed
Ensure you are hydrated and have a glass of water next to your bed
Make sure that your bedding is fresh and clean
Do something that relaxes you - listening to music, having a bubble bath, dancing, yoga, stretching, meditation, breath work, journaling, reading. Just not something involving a screen.
Light a candle (just remember to put it out before you fall asleep) or use essential oils - lavender, jasmine, chamomile are all good for helping you to sleep.
Open your bedroom window to allow fresh air in.
Switch off all the lights. Your sleep hormone triggers when it is dark!
Make sure your PJs are comfortable and a good amount of warmth / coolness
As you lie in bed, close your eyes, do breath number 3 from the above video and think about the things that you are grateful for in your life until you drift off to sleep
Try to take your mind off the past - reliving negative situations that upset / anger you. Did you know that when you think about situations from your past and continue to feel the same guilt / anger / sadness / frustration, your body and nervous system think you are re-living it in real time. This pushes you further into a stressed state.
Stop worrying or anticipating negative situations in your future. Just because something happened in the past does not mean that it will happen the same way again.
Bring mindfulness into your life - this is all about being in the moment. Literally stop and smell the roses, feel the sunshine on your skin, take in the beauty around you, listen to your children laughing or the birds singing, taste your food (away from the TV), walk barefoot outside (earthing), basically take time to experience your senses in the present moment.
Replenish your energy! Take time each week to re-energize. This might be time with friends, doing yoga, meditation, taking a long bubble bath, getting away, spending time in nature, exercise....think about the times in your life when you felt alive, energized and happy. What were you doing? Now can you incorporate THAT into your life more?
There are many things here that you can try. Which ones will you start with immediately? Remember that changes don't happen on their own. YOU have to prioritize your new plan and if necessary set reminders in your phone until they become habit. If you aren't thinking about how to improve your life, you won't make the necessary changes and a year from now you will still be in the same space.
So what are you going to change today?
I hope you have found some of this information helpful - there is so much information to share but not enough time here today. If you are interested to hear more, drop me an email, text or find me on social media as I'm happy talk it through with you.
Much love Amanda