When it comes to losing weight, there are hundreds of advisors all claiming they have the ultimate solution. From diets and teas to exercise routines and extreme weight loss measures, there’s the assurance that all it takes is picking a weight-loss fad and in no time, all the accumulated fat would melt away. While many opt for purported quick results, others decide to go the natural way of diet modification and/or exercise.
Upon embarking on exercises, it is expected that results would show,though this might take some time. So, when one spends month after month slaving in the gym and exercising at every given opportunity and yet doesn’t see results, it becomes frustrating. It can be tempting at that point to give up but just before throwing in the towel, a review of what you have been doing or missing out on is important. Afterall, with a successful loss of weight based on healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), the risk of health problems like stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes is reduced. Saturday Tribune looks into some reasons your workout session may not produce the result of toned muscles and burnt fat.
Your food is working against you
When it comes to weight loss, exercising is just half the battle. The greater part of the challenge is in diet modification. This does not imply starvation or completely staying off carbohydrates. The key is in eating small, healthy portions. Mrs. Iyabode Aderenle Alabi, dietician and retired Deputy Director, Department of Dietetics, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, says when it comes to food, “Carbohydrates are good for the body because they provide energy, so, we can’t do without them. However, they shouldn’t be consumed in large quantities and when carbohydrates are taken, there should be plenty of vegetables. It is recommended that more of vegetables should be taken with carbohydrates and not more of meat. And when taking vegetables, a variety of them is best. Vegetables contain fibre and calories are minimal, so, not only are they nutritious, they also help with weight control.” She adds that it is advisable to eat small portions of balanced food four to five times a day rather than three heavy meals per day.
Mrs Yemisi Solanke-Lawal, a dietician and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Evergreen Health and Social Care International Limited, adds that some other diet issues that can stand in the way of efficient workouts inclde post-digestive and absorption effects, cooking skills, cooking methods as well as knowledge of food and nutrition.
Where proper diet is followed, sometimes the error lies in foods and drinks taken after a workout session. “No matter how hard and long you spend working out, if you go back home and take soft drinks, cakes and other empty calorie, high sugar foods or drinks, it becomes counterproductive. All the calories you burnt have automatically been regained and sometimes at a higher number than you burnt. If you need energy after working out, go for water or hydrating fruits,” Chima Okafor, a fitness expert said.
Lack of variety
All exercise is good but when you are looking to lose weight and tone muscles, you need to infuse variety into your sessions. “A proper exercise plan includes strength training, cardiovascular exercises and flexibility. If you’re just doing cardio, then you will be burning calories and strengthening your cardiovascular system, but you won’t be really changing your body composition by building more muscle. For that you need strength training. Lift weights or do body-weight exercises, such as lunges and push-ups, at least twice a week to reap the amazing benefits of resistance training; including decreased body fat, increased muscle mass and stronger bone density,” Jennipher Walters, a fitness instructor said. So after jogging or running, take time out to lift those dumbbells!
More so, when your routine becomes monotonous, your body gets so used to it that it would fail to produce the desired change you need.
You sit all day
A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to various health issues and it can also work against your seeing results from your exercise efforts. Walters says, “even if you work out regularly, what you do the rest of the day matters, too. If you put in a solid exercise session only to sit at a desk all day and lounge in a recliner watching TV at night, you may be undoing all of your hard work at the gym. Try to work more activity into all areas of your life. If your job requires you to sit in front of a computer all day, set a timer to beep every half hour or hour to remind you to stand up, stretch and do a quick lap around the office.”
You are too careful
When it comes to seeing results, you need to push your body beyond its comfort zone. Do you always jog for the same number of minutes? Or always set your treadmill on the same speed? Or lift the same weight? If you do these, then you are not giving your body enough challenge to see results. It’s okay to break into sweats. Once you notice that you have mastered an exercise to the point it becomes too easy, it may be time for you to mix things up. You also shouldn’t be so careful as to allow yourself work out only when you’re in the mood for it. Pick a schedule and stick to it regardless of your mood. In fact, exercise has been known to improve emotional moods, so you’d be better for it. However, in pushing yourself, this should be done with the guidance of your fitness instructor. On the flip side, you shouldn’t push yourself so hard that you don’t create enough time for rest. Rest is important for torn or worn out tissues and muscles to heal.
You’re stressed and not managing it well
Stress is a natural part of living but the problem arises when it is poorly managed. Besides health problems associated with poorly managed stressful situations, it could also affect your weight loss efforts. Mrs Solanke-Lawal said “The truth is,every human being encounters stress in life right from the point of delivery right up to death. Different events in life makes us stressed ranging from the labour of child birth, being a parent, work, marriage, etc. However, when we are stressed, we have a higher tendency to add more to our weight. This weight gain has been linked to several things from biological processes to environmental and lifestyle changes. A hormone called “cortisol” which the body releases has been linked to weight gain on the biological side. Too much cortisol can slow the body’s way of working including breathing, pumping blood, regulation of body temperature,etc, thereby causing more weight gain even if you are still eating the same portion of food.
“Also, stress has been linked to the cravings of fatty, salty and sugary food which are unhealthy for us and also add to weight gain. It has also been linked to affecting the body’s fat storage system by storing fat in the abdominal area. Sadly, abdominal fat is not only unattractive, it is linked with greater health risks than fat stored in other areas of the body.”