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! 😊
There’s something about holding a kettlebell that makes me oh-so-happy :).. so with the weather not being nice today I decided to do my workout at home. It was just me and my kettlebell (60pds) and good ol’ rope.
So today’s workout was a circuit:
☆Sumo deadlift 15×8
☆2-hand press 6×8
☆Kettlebell swings 25×8
☆Jump rope drills 90sec x8 (not pictured)
Total time: 48min 52sec 😥
Benefits of Kettlebell Training
▪ Most people are unaware of over training the front side of their body (ex: chest, abs &quads, aka: the mirror muslces). However, the back side of the body (posterior chain) is equally important for functional and esthetic reasons. Kettlebells promote coordination among all the muscles of the posterior chain. Training these muscles corrects posture, imbalances and reduces lower back pain among others.
Quick Fact: Your posterior chain is a group of muscles, tendons, & ligaments on the back side of your body. These are the lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves.
▪ They promote hip flexor flexibility & strengthen the abdominal muscles. This reduces pelvic tilt & decreases lower back pain.
▪ Trains your body to work as a unit. No kettlebell exercise is ever a single joint movement. Every swing, lift, or press engages many joints & muscle groups forcing the body to always work as a unified whole.
▪ Teaches proper bracing of the abdominal cavity. People tend to suck in their stomach when told to ‘engage the core’. Kettlebells teach ‘bracing’ the mid-section (as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach). This internal pressure created by your breath and abdominal wall supports your back, making you stronger.
▪ The acceleration/deceleration of moving a kettlebell strengthens connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, cartilage). This increases mobility, strength & flexibility reducing the possibility of injury.
So there you have it.. just some of the benefits these awesome chunks of iron can have on the body when incorporated into your workout.
Happy training 🙂
So you decide to try that new workout routine you found online. You start off great, working out steadily but a week (or two..or three) into it you realize it’s not working for you, so you stop.
Maybe a month later you find a book that promises to ‘melt that belly fat’ and you have all intentions to clean up your eating, and you do…for a week. But then you get frustrated because this book is just the world’s biggest ‘foods you can’t eat’ list and you give up.
You then buy a special on 3 months of boot camp or kickboxing classes and go religiously..till you feel burned out.
Another few weeks go by and you decide enough is enough and you spend serious money on some fancy detox and meal plan given to you by a holistic nutritionist and you couple that with working out almost every day…But
NOTHING. IS. HAPPENING!!!! (sound familiar?!)
Short Answer: You’re doing too much at once and not giving your body a chance to adapt.
Lets start with the nutrition aspect:
Save yourself money and and time and avoid getting sucked into these fancy diets, detoxes, and pills. You may think that they’re working at first but any weight lost is most certainly water weight.. and it will come right back.
The best and most effective way to lose body fat is to have a meal plan that works for you! Not a meal plan that you find online or borrowed from a friend. Everybody is different. With different metabolisms, different body compositions, different caloric needs. What worked for Joe or Sally will not work to the same effect for you.
Most people are misinformed and think that in order to lose weight you need to stick to a mere 1500 calories a day and eat chicken & asparagus day in and day out (I’m being dramatic I know :()
But if they only knew that there’s more to life than just eating chicken & asparagus!,
Quick Fact: Being on a low calorie diet for too long will sabotage your metabolism, prevent you from building muscle tissue, cause hormonal imbalances, seriously affect your energy levels..and so much more. (Learn more about effects of eating too little here)
The best way to go about losing body fat without compromising muscle tissue is by eating more. For someone who is just starting off, if your goal is fat loss multiply your current weight by 10-12 to give you a caloric range you should aim for. Start at the higher end of your caloric range as you want to be able to eat as much as you can while losing body fat.
(For building, multiply your body weight by 16-18)
Ex: using my weight of 142pds and taking into account the number of times I workout, my caloric range for a deficit phase would be 1988-2272 calories/day
From there make sure to include a lean protein, complex carb, and a healthy fat with your meals. The frequency of your meals should be roughly every 3-4 hours.. which works out to 5-6 times a day (your main meals, with snacks in between).
Moving on to the exercise part, again you want to make sure that you stick to one program..and one program only… and give your body a chance to adapt. Ideally you want to include 3-4 workouts per week (it goes without saying that I am a die hard fan of the iron, so I will always be an advocate for it!). Your workout program should incorporate compound movements as these engage alot of muscles and you get the most bang for your buck. Also any exercises to strengthen any weak areas should be worked into your program as you dont want to have any muscle imbalances as this could lead to injury.
The funny thing about the human body is that it likes to be in a state of balance. So any time that you upset that balance..in this case with exercise.. it will quickly work to repair itself and return to homeostasis. The result would be a leaner, stronger body that will have you smiling from ear to ear.
So to sum it all up, if you’ve been trying to lose body fat (or gain muscle) for a while now, and you have not seen the changes you had hoped for, maybe it’s time you step back and re-evaluate what you are doing. Going from one thing to another is just causing chaos on your body and making you miserable. Focus instead on following a well balanced nutrition & workout program and STICK TO IT.
And then your body will thank you 😉
You have an upcoming event and you want to look your best in that new dress.. or maybe you’ve booked a beach vacation and want to feel confident in your bathing suit. Whatever your reason may be, spending 30+ minutes on a boring treadmill (or any cardio machine) may not be the wisest choice.
For those who are familiar with it know that it’s alot more intense than an hour on the treadmill.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is when you alternate between high and low intensity exercise(s) or between high intensity exercise and a short period of rest.
For example, a short sprint up a hill followed by a walk back down is interval training. Or a set of burpees followed by bodyweight rows. Or squat jumps followed by pushups.
The reason why? The bursts of high intensity (such as 10-20 seconds of sprinting) create a metabolic demand in the body that is effective for long-term fat loss. HIIT and heavy weight training create a state of ‘stress’ in our bodies by reducing oxygen supply to tissues, increasing body temperature, reducing body fluids and fuel stores, and causing tissue damage. This chaos prompts the body to create endocrine and defense reactions in order to deal with the problem. Basically the body is forced to adapt.
Benefits of HIIT:
• strengthens the cardiovascular system
• improves carbohydrate & fat metabolism in skeletal muscle
• results in fat-loss without compromising lean muscle mass
• improves strength and power
You end up getting more ‘bang for your buck’, for example 5 minutes of HIIT = approximately 30-45 min of treadmill or elliptical.
If you would like to incorporate HIIT, ensure you do a proper Warm-up & cool-down.
Example of HIIT Workout:
▪2 min Warm-up skipping
》20 seconds fast skipping (high intensity)
》10 seconds slow skipping (low intensity/recovery)
▪ Repeat for 9 intervals (5min)
▪ 3 min cool-down
You can replace the skipping rope with incline intervals on a treadmill or even the row machine
Want to get fancy with your HIIT workouts? Try it with resistance exercises. You can try alternating burpees with pushups… jump squats with inverted rows.. the possibilities can be endless!
So today was my last day at the gym I work with. It’s been a hell of a 4 year ride. I’ve learned alot from all the different trainers, met some interesting people and made friendships that I will always remember. It was my home away from home… I can’t say I won’t miss it!! 😥
I THINK that my ‘morning sickness’ is slowly subsiding as I enter my second trimester. Some days I feel like a million bucks, others I barely have the energy to hold myself up. I’m crossing my fingers that by the next couple weeks I feel back to my old self again.
Today us trainers had our weekly training session. Today’s workout was Shaniquoa:
Jumping Pull-ups x20 reps
Push-ups x30 reps
Explosive sit-ups x40 reps
Weighted squats x50 reps x35pds
Rest 2min.. Total of 4 sets
I will admit that I was not able to do 20 pull-ups.. Regularly I can get in maybe 10-12. But good old carpal tunnel (a symptom of pregnancy) has messed with my grip. So I was only able to get 4-6 in, the rest of the time I would jump up to the bar and hold for 5 seconds before releasing.
Push-ups I struggled with.. Again wrists can’t take the pressure, so I paused alot. The rest of the exercises were easy as pie.
I proudly say that I kept up pretty good considering I’m preggo. I surprised myself.. As this was no walk in the park workout. I will pay for this tomorrow though. I already feel my chest shaky.. And the stiffness is slowly creeping in.
I will take a well deserved R&R these next 2 weeks. After that I don’t know what I will do without the gym😫. I will probably get by for a couple of weeks doing workouts at home, but eventually I will hunt for a good gym close to me and pay monthly like most people do :(.
Till next time.