It happens to all of us at point or another. We think we are doing everything right.. exercising and eating as ‘clean’ as we possibly can. But then it happens.. you’re stuck and you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what you’re doing wrong.
Here are the top 3 reason’s that can stop your progress, and tips on how you can move past them.
1. Not Sleeping Enough
Sleep deprivation can affect your concentration and impair your memory; can make you feel lazy and less motivated (the thought of working out will feel like a major hassle); and affect your performance levels.
Insufficient sleep can also cause you to gain weight over time, by decreasing your body’s levels of leptin- a hormone responsible for making you feel full- and by increasing your levels of ghrelin, which increases your appetite and makes you want to eat more. (according an October 2010 article in the journal “Best Practice and Research: Clinical Endrocrinology and Metabolism.”)
Another downside of sleep deprivation is the affect on your body’s ability to release growth hormone. By not getting enough sleep you are limiting your body’s ability to recover and regenerate cell & muscle tissue.
- ensure you are getting good quality sleep, about 7-9 hours will ensure your body will function at its best.
- avoid high sugar, refined carbs before bed time as this can raise your blood sugar & stress the organs involved in hormone regulation. Have a high protein snack instead.
- avoid screen time exposure 2-3 hours before bed as the blue light emitted from your devices can disrupt your circadian rhythm (if not, consider installing a blue light filter app)
If your brain detects the presence of a threat, whether it’s from a dangerous animal, work, or financial troubles, it will trigger the release of a cascade of chemicals, including adrenaline, CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone), and cortisol. Your brain and body are preparing to handle the perceived threat by making you feel alert, ready for action and able to withstand an injury (fight or flight).
The release of adrenaline decreases appetite as blood flows away from the internal organs and to larger muscles to prepare for “fight or flight.” But once the effects of adrenaline start to wear off, cortisol, (the “stress hormone”) remains and starts signaling the body to replenish your food supply. Today we use up a lot less energy dealing with our stress compared to our ancestors (they had to fight off large animals), yet we are stuck with a neuroendocrine system that didn’t get the memo, so our brain is still going to tell us to reach for that cookie.
Besides fighting off large animals, our ancestors had to worry about famine. Their bodies learned to adapt by storing fat supplies for the long haul. Because of this when we are chronically stressed by life and/or work demands, the excess cortisol in our bodies slows down our metabolism, increasing visceral fat (belly fat). This type of fat releases chemicals triggering inflammation, putting us at an elevated risk for developing heart disease or diabetes. As you can see, chronic stress in our lives takes a major toll on our bodies.
- practice relaxation techniques
- find a quiet space & focus on some deep breathing
- learn how to say no. Distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts” and, when possible, say “no” to taking on too much.
- exercising too much without proper recovery can also impact the body in a negative way. Ensure you allow your body sufficient time for recovery. (Read my post on rest and recovery here).
3. Input vs. Output
By now you should know that your goals (whether its gaining mass or losing body fat) is dependent on whether you are fueling your body appropriately.
If your goal is fat loss then your output (exercise) should be greater than input (food). If you are consuming more than you are burning off, or if the quality of food is poor then you will not lose fat. Be cautious, though, to not restrict your calories too much as this can actually hinder fat loss as well and wreak havoc on your body, especially in women. The safest way to fat loss is learning portion control, eating quality, unprocessed foods, and having a proper weight training program.
If on the other hand, your goal is to gain muscle, then your input (food) should be greater than output (exercise). If you are not eating enough and exercising too much then you will not gain muscle muscle mass.
- for either goal, you should aim for nutritious, unprocessed foods. Include lean proteins, fruits & vegetables (especially greens), and healthy fats.
- limit high sugar, processed foods.
- have a proper weight training and HIIT program to help build muscle.
- be patient, it takes time. If you are gaining or losing too fast, then its likely not happening at a healthy level.. which is not sustainable in the long term.
There are other variables that come in to play, but I believe these are the top ones. Ultimately it comes down to listening to your body. Our bodies will always tell us if something is not working.. you just have to learn to listen.
Happy Training! 😊
I’ve seen it too many times… back when I worked at gyms and still now when I work out at my local commercial gym: alot (not all) of women are neglecting the big old compound exercises. The reasons could be many:
- Lack of knowledge: not knowing how to correctly perform the exercise
- Intimidation: some women feel intimidated walking into the free weights section because of all the testosterone around. I say OWN it.. do your thang girl!!
- Have been misinformed: some women might still believe that these big lifts are just “too manly” for them, totally not the case.
I could continue, but then this would turn into a looonnnggg rant.
Ok, so moving on… these lifts I like to refer to them as the “Build-A Body” group, because when implemented correctly can help ‘build’ your lady bumps and humps 😉 and who wouldn’t want that?!
- The Deadlift: A foundational lift. This exercise mimics everyday movements like bending and lifting (ex: picking up your little one). This one is my ultimate favourite lift. With so many different variations, I incorporate the deadlift in almost every one of my workouts. Muscles worked include:
- entire posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, hips): equals a beautiful backside
- engages your core musculature (internal girdle): a strong core increases overall strength, protects your back, and lets you wear those crop tops without thinking twice
- biceps and forearms: develops your grip strength so you can lift more heavy SH*T!
- Here’s a great article on deadlifting written by Tony Gentilcore (who is only the world’s deadlifting god)
- The Squat: Another foundational lift as you do this movement every time you sit and stand. With many variations to choose from, you can never get bored of this one.
- helps build and shape nice thighs
- helps build glutes
- builds overall strength
- The Hip Thrust: This one is a great glute builder/ isolator exercise. Remember that your glutes are pure muscle and in order to grow them you need to learn to fire the glutes and stimulate them properly using heavier loads, varying rep ranges, etc. You can increase or decrease the intensity level by doing body weight hip thrusts, adding bands, doing singe leg variations.. possibilities are many.
- Pull-ups: This is the ultimate upper body exercise as it builds incredible strength. As a multi joint exercise:
- works & strengthens entire back musculature, shoulders, biceps, grip strength
- creates a tapered effect of the back making your waist look smaller
- different hand positions target the muscles a little differently/ changes difficulty
- Vertical/ Horizontal Presses: These include push-ups & variations (horizontal press exercises); military press, push-press, shoulder press, etc (vertical press exercises). These exercises:
- increase upper body strength (women have less muscle mass compared to their lower bodies.. we gotta work harder at it!)
- work your chest, shoulders, triceps and core
- Band assisted push-ups (beginners)
- Awesome push-up variations (advanced)
- Military Press helps build amazing shoulders
- Push Press helps build raw strength. Improves shoulder stability. And can I just say it look badass when a woman does it!!
So here it is ladies.. a short list of some lifts to definitely include in your training. Don’t be intimidated or embarrassed of walking into that gym and grabbing some iron. Your body will thank you 😉
Happy Training 🙂
There has recently been an obsession with waist trainers. Celebrities the likes of Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba, and Beyoncé.. just to name a few.. have been praising their waist trainers for giving them the much coveted and sought after ‘hourglass’ shape. Social media has also been a big part in giving praise to these updated medieval corsets. And now they have made their way into the fitness industry.
This angers me.
If you follow any fitness account on instagram, you are likely to have come across some ‘fitness pro trainer’ endorsing waist trainers or cinchers. They will take selfies in gym attire with a waist trainer on and credit that for their flat stomach, defined abs and hourglass figure.
THIS IS NOT TRUE!
I won’t even get into the fact that most of these so called ‘master’ or ‘pro’ trainers are a walking advertisement for plastic surgery, but the fact that there are thousands of women, alot of them young impressionable women.. even teenage girls, who will believe that an ever-constricting cincher will give them their dream body.
Anyone who has knowledge of the body will know that you cannot spot reduce, meaning that you can not target one specific body part/ area (ex: stomach, thighs) and lose fat only there. Fat loss is universal. When it occurs you will lose fat overall, some areas may go faster depending on your fat distribution.
What is waist training?
This new fad promises to melt belly fat, shrink your waist and give you an hourglass shape. You’re supposed to wear this compressive latex undergarment similar to a girdle (think: spanx on steroids) about 8-10 hours per day.. even while working out. As time passes by and ‘inches’ are lost you cinch your waist trainer more..and then *POOF* you end up with the much coveted mid-section.
Companies selling fitness waist cinchers claim that they compress your core, ramp up perspiration, release toxins, and metabolize fat. The tight fit also restricts your abdomen, reducing your food intake during the day. Advocates proclaim that these garments will help you lose fat and inches from your waist.
Waist Training Myths
1. It slims down your waist.
As stated before, you cannot spot reduce fat. The inches that you end up losing are a result of water weight from the excess perspiration (sweat) your body releases while wearing your waist trainer. Because it is water weight you will gain it back once your body is hydrated again.
2. Gives you an hourglass shape.
Ok.. let me provide some visuals:
>Full tube of toothpaste , cap on. Take your fingers, squeeze it in the middle. What happens? Still a full tube, BUT the toothpaste that was in the middle is now pushed to the top or the bottom..
>Hold a water balloon. Squeeze the middle of it. What happens? The center of the balloon is now thinner due to you squeezing it. When you remove your fingers, the balloon goes back to being a regular ol’ balloon.
What has happened in both scenarios is a REDISTRIBUTION of mass from one point to another, making it APPEAR thinner. You have not in any way actually REDUCED it.
3. Improves posture & strengthens the core.
Ummm.. NO not really. The only reason it may seem to improve your posture is because it forces you to sit up or stand up straight because of the stiff material. When you don’t have it on chances are your poor posture will return. Also.. by wearing something that tight you are not allowing your body’s natural core musculature to develop.
4. Reduces food intake.
Since this undergarment is essentially compressing your midsection (which houses many organs..including the stomach) it will give you a false feeling of being full. Does this sound healthy to you at all?
Now let me tell you what can and does happen:
1. Constricting the abdomen and torso could impair lung function by restricting the amount of space available for the lungs to expand into the abdomen and fill with air. When the lungs don’t expand…they don’t exchange oxygen or expel carbon dioxide, and the person is short of breath. While exercising your rate of breathing and demand for oxygen is higher, so if you’re wearing your waist trainer during exercise then you will feel the effects on your breathing even more. Reduced oxygenation can also affect your metabolism by slowing it down, which in turn can affect your weight
2. Can restrict your bowels.
This can lead to constipation
3. Causes bruised skin.
Can also bruise ribs if it’s tight enough.
4. Genetics play a big role.
If you genetically don’t have an hourglass shape, no amount of waist training will do that for you.
5. Compresses & shifts organs.
I will stop there.. though there are many other dangers to this new fad. The truth is that now a days people are looking for a quick fix. It takes time and dedication to food & exercise to achieve a flat and toned mid-section.
Abs are made in the kitchen and chiseled in the gym. Don’t fall prey to these fads.. because it’s just a TEMPORARY solution.