Losing weight can be frustrating business. First, you have to eat healthy. Then you have to start exercising. Then… you wait. As you’ve heard countless times, losing weight takes time and patience is one of the most important things you’ll need. If you’re short on that, maybe I can help you out.
Below are some typical questions from folks trying to lose weight and some answers which will help you focus on what’s important:
When will I start losing weight?
Short answer: You’ll lose weight when you lose weight. If you’ve reduced your calories (by about 500 calories a day with diet and exercise) and are consistent with your program, you will lose weight, but everyone loses body fat at a different rate depending on their gender, weight, age, fitness level and hereditary factors. To get past the frustration:
- Focus on what you can control: A healthy diet and consistent exercise.
- Forget about what you can’t control: genetics, age, gender and body type.
- Throw away that scale: It won’t tell you how much body fat you’re losing. Take your measurements or get your body fat tested instead.
- Focus on the results you’re getting now: Aren’t you feeling better? Walking faster or longer? Getting stronger? Sleeping better? More energetic? That’s progress!
Why can’t I get rid of my belly and thighs?
Many people find that, even when they lose body fat, some areas never seem to slim down (i.e., the belly, hips and thighs). If you’ve been doing a zillion crunches on your quest for six-pack abs, remember:
- Spot training doesn’t work. You can’t do crunches to reduce your belly fat or leg lifts to reduce cellulite around the thighs.
- To slim down, you have to lose body fat. Cardio, weight training and diet are three crucial components to losing fat.
- Even losing body fat doesn’t guarantee perfection. Your body decides where and when it loses fat, not you. Let your body do its thing… you can’t control your genetics.
- Focus on what you can control: Your diet and exercise program. Appreciate the results you do get and learn to love your body, even the parts the jiggle sometimes.
I’ve stopped losing weight!
Plateaus happen to everyone. When you do the same exercise over and over, your body adapts to it and your workout becomes less effective. If you’ve reached a plateau try these ideas:
- Increase your exercise intensity. Speed up your usual workout or add sprints or hills to boost your calorie-burning.
- Try something new. Confuse your body by doing something you’ve never done Ã¢â‚¬â€ ride a bike or go for a swim to keep your muscles from becoming too accustomed to one exercise.
- Lift weights. If you’re not weight training, you’re missing some serious calorie- burning.
- Add another day of exercise. Even an extra 15-20 minutes a week can help you burn more calories.
I’ve been exercising and I’m gaining weight!
If you’re using a scale, may I again recommend that you throw it away? A scale can’t tell you what you’re losing or gaining. If you’re following a complete program, you may actually be gaining muscle rather than fat.
- Even if your weight goes up, you may still be losing body fat. Muscle weighs more than fat and it takes up less space. Pay attention to how your clothes fit. If you weigh more but have slimmed down, you’re on the right track.
- Take your measurements. Use a measuring tape to measure your chest, waist, hips, arms and thighs. Every four weeks or so, retake them to track your progress. If you’re losing inches, again, you’re on the right track.
- If you’ve gained weight and haven’t slimmed down, look at your diet. Some folks think they’re eating fewer calories when they’re actually eating more. Keep a journal of what you eat each day and try to get rid of the usual culprits (juice, alcohol and extra nibbling throughout the day).
I haven’t seen results. How can I keep going?
Focusing on weight loss is a sure way to get frustrated. Remember, your body will lose weight when it loses weight. You’re better off paying attention to the immediate benefits of exercise:
If you’re frustrated with lack of results, plateaus or other weight loss dilemmas, please remember that losing weight takes time, patience and consistency. When you feel like you want to quit, remember that what you’re doing (or not doing) now will affect your future quality of life. Exercising now can make for a better life as you get older!