Getting leaner is probably the number one obsession for the majority of us women. But because there are so many misconceptions about what really works, we often struggle to get the results we are looking for. I don't have a secret formula, but I can share with you what I learned from my experience.
1. Ditch the Diet
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that diets are generally more disappointing than successful. I’ve been on so many calorie-restricting diets, I've lost count. The script has always been the same: starve myself for a couple of weeks, shed 5 pounds and a couple of weeks later gain back 7, experiencing the same frustrations over and over again.
Diets that limit your food intake to the point where you’re hungry don’t work. Our bodies need energy and nutrients to function properly. By reducing caloric intake, we go into energy-saving mode and our metabolism slows down. This explains why the great majority of people who lose weight on a fad diet gain it all back (or more) in the following year, as studies show. On top of that, when I'm dieting I don't have a healthy relationship with food. Food becomes a threat and an obsession to the point that it affects my social life.
Find a way of eating that suits you without expecting to get results overnight. Aim at long-term lasting outcomes instead.
2. Quality over Quantity
I watch what I eat and not how much I eat. The decision to stop counting calories and controlling my food intake was one of the best I've ever made and extremely liberating. I eat whenever I'm hungry BUT I don't eat when I am not (I mean, I try not to)! In other words, use but don't abuse food.
3. Muscle It Up!
Cardio is an important component of any workout but it's not enough for good health. Muscles are what we need! By building - and maintaining - good muscle mass, we increase our resting metabolic rate. This means we burn more even when we are not actually working out. Muscles not only boost our metabolism but also support our structure, which is particularly important as we age.
I try to incorporate weight training in my routine. To be clear, I'm not a body builder. Body-weight exercises are more than enough for me to see some improvements, but kettle bells and dumbbells every once in a while definitely help!
Sleep is so important, but so overlooked! I know, we only live once and resting those 8 hours every single day might seem like a waste of time. Think again. There is so much research now proving that sleep deprivation is a major cause of weight gain.
The less you sleep the higher your cortisol levels (stress hormone) and the lower your leptin (hormone that lets you know when to stop eating). Translated: the less you sleep, the more stressed you are and the more you eat.
I know sometimes sleeping 7-9 hours is a challenge or may seem impossible, but try to stick to a good sleep routine as much as possible. A half an hour before getting to bed, switch off all your devices as they disrupt the natural pattern of the sleep-wake cycle. and enjoy a book, audio-book or some music instead of watching TV or looking at your phone.
5. Lighter does not equal leaner
Weight goes up and down and not always for bad reasons. For one thing, muscles weigh way more than fat, so gaining weight (within a reasonable range, of course!) may actually mean you're getting leaner!
I suggest that you put your scale aside and stop obsessively checking your weight every day. Take measurements instead - do it periodically, using a measuring tape. Or just look at yourself in the mirror to check your improvements. Appreciate your hard work and don't let a number on a scale dictate your happiness and self-worth.
Tags: weight loss, strength training, cortisol, sleep
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