This article is going to focus on some of the main reasons people either gain weight or fail to reach their desired goal of achieving a better body shape. If you can relate to one, two or a combination of these reasons then identifying, admitting and understanding your own barriers is the first step to overcoming them and can assist you in achieving your results.
Most people who decide to change their body do so because they are unhappy with the condition that they are in. And it's habits formed over time that have got them to that condition. Unfortunately many of those habits that they enjoy to do can often cause them to feel negatively about their body and it's not uncommon for somebody trying to achieve results to have conflicting 'want' and 'don't want' values. For example, they want to lose weight but they don't want to reduce their alcohol intake. Hopefully this article can help you to identify some of your own barriers and motivate you to make the necessary changes to achieve your goals.
1. I don't track my macros: Playing darts in the dark
Consistently hitting your daily macronutrient requirements is by far the most successful way to achieve results. Many people don't understand how calories and the body works and I often hear 'I eat healthy, but I can't lose weight?' Probably because you eat too much, or not enough. Tracking your macros eliminates any questions around over/under eating and it allows you to clearly see where you might need to make changes to your eating habits in order to get results.
Consistently using your food diary is the best way to stay on track. Whether you choose to eat as clean as possible, eat 3, 4 or 5 meals per day or whether you like to add in some chocolate to curb your sweet tooth. Regardless of how you like to eat if you don't track your macros then you are just guessing and guessing is like trying to play darts in the dark. You'll have a go but chances are you're going to miss the target. So many people waste countless hours in the gym trying to achieve results that will never come simply because they do not track their intake. Start tracking your macros and you will save yourself time and stress.
Benefits of tracking macros
- Allows you to confidently hit your nutrition target
- Allows you to clearly see where you might need to make changes
- If you've over consumed you know exactly how much by so you can do the right amount of exercise to burn it off
- Allows you flexibility with your food choices so you can add in the things you like or crave
- Saves you time in the long run
2. I eat too much: Deficit vs Surplus
The majority of people that are over weight got that way because they consumed too many calories than they needed, mainly from excess carbohydrates and/or fats. In order to lose weight you must be in a calorie deficit. What that means is that the total amount of calories you consume on a daily basis must be less than what your body needs to stay at maintenance level. When you are in a deficit this forces the body to use your existing fat stores as energy. As soon as you consume at maintenance level or above you are no longer in a deficit therefore no longer able to burn those existing fat stores. The process of fat loss is very simple. Consume the right amount of calories specific to your body type, exercise and goal, do it consistently over time and you will achieve your result. One of the reasons people fail to achieve fat loss results is because they over consume their calorie requirements. And yes… that includes the weekend.
What to remember
- You must be in a deficit to burn fat
- As soon as you consume at maintenance or above you can no longer burn fat
- Calories come in the form of carbs, fats, protein and alcohol and exceeding on any of these can lead to weight gain
3. I drink too much alcohol: That glass of wine is calories too!
Most people know that alcohol can contribute to weight gain, however people still tend to ignore it when it comes to identifying it as an energy source leaving them disappointed or in denial when they gain weight thinking they've eaten well but forgot about the 15 drinks they had over the weekend. You might have hit your macros for the day but those glasses of wine you forgot about are calories too! And a lot of them.
Here's a bit more detail
For every 1 gram of alcohol there's 29kj's
For every 1 gram of carbohydrate there's 16kj's
For every 1 gram of fat there's 37kj's
So as you can see there's a lot more energy in 1 gram of alcohol than there is 1 gram of carbohydrate so if you're consuming extra calories through alcohol then you need to ensure you burn them all off if you want to have any chance of losing weight.
When you consume alcohol your body's immediate response is to get rid of it straight away because it's a toxin that your body doesn't actually like. What that means is that until the alcohol is completely burnt off and out of your system you will not burn any carbohydrates or fats. Keeping a track of your alcohol intake is important so you know how much extra exercise you need to do to burn it off. Don't be disappointed if you gained weight and you didn't put in the extra time to burn off the booze. It's important that alcohol doesn't regularly replace food as this will lead to many health problems and still prevent you from achieving your goal. If you regularly did this, over time you would be depriving your body of essential vitamins, minerals and macros it needs not only to function properly but also to build lean muscle, which is one of the biggest contributors of fat burning. Alcohol is high in energy but has no nutritional benefits.
What to remember
- Alcohol is an energy source and is high in calories, which can lead to weight gain
- There's more energy in 1 gram of alcohol than 1 gram of carbohydrate
- Keep track of your consumption and use exercise to burn off alcohol - don't let it replace food
- There are no nutritional benefits in alcohol
- People make poor food choices around alcohol consumption
4. I don't eat enough protein: The building block for muscle
Protein is essential for tissue repair, muscle growth and it helps to maintain your metabolism. More often than not people who are over weight or with poor body composition will eat a diet high in carbs and/or fats and low in protein. Your body requires a certain amount of protein based on your weight, lean muscle mass and goal. People often underestimate what they require and understanding the importance of protein is vital. About 75% of your body weight consists of protein. It's the primary building block for muscle, bone, skin, hair and many other tissues.
About 70% of the energy we burn is done in a rested state, so hitting your protein requirements is essential for maintaining and building muscle. The more lean muscle you have on your body the more energy you can burn throughout the day and at rest. Increasing your lean muscle mass will allow you to burn more energy
Every time you exercise and overload your muscles you tear the muscle fibres, this is a good thing. Consuming protein allows your muscles to repair which helps to increase lean muscle mass resulting in an increase in fat burning potential. However, if you under eat on protein your body simply will not build and repair those muscles properly resulting in decreased lean muscle mass, muscle deterioration, injury and slowed metabolism. As muscle begins to deteriorate the body cannot burn energy as quickly resulting in fat gain.
What to remember
- Protein is essential to repair, build and maintain your muscles
- Under eating your protein requirements will lead to muscle loss
- Lean muscle is responsible for 70% of the energy we burn daily
- Your metabolism is greatly affected by your lean muscle mass
5. I don't eat enough: Starving yourself
It's not surprising that with the vast amount of contradicting information available to us people think that the only way to lose weight is to starve themselves. Yes you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight but being in an extreme calorie deficit for a prolonged period of time will lead to many health problems, possible weight gain and those dreaded words 'the plateau'.
Your body needs essential vitamins, minerals and fibre from carbs, proteins and fats to ensure it can survive. Every day bodily functions such as breathing, sleeping, moving, metabolising food etc., all require energy. And if you're not providing your body with enough nutrients then there will be problems. As soon as you begin to starve yourself the body can no longer build and repair muscle amongst other health issues and once that happens your body will begin to use it's existing protein (being your existing muscle) as energy leading to muscle deterioration, a loss of lean muscle mass, resulting in slowed metabolism and fat gain.
Many people who starve themselves will binge at some point. Whether it's on the weekend, if you've over trained or when you've had a stressful day and emotionally turn to food. The process of starving the body is not healthy, sustainable or the way to achieve results. Don't be in a calorie deficit more than you have to. Hit your macros, eat your food, love your food, it's your body's life source.
What to remember
- Being in an extreme deficit has negative health effects on the body
- Under eating will lead to loss of muscle which leads to slowed metabolism and can cause plateaus
- Under eating can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Starving leads to binging
6. I make excuses and blame others: Taking accountability and responsibility
People will come up with all sorts of 'reasons' aka 'excuses' when they fail to achieve their results. I'm too busy, I don't have enough time, it's too hard, it's not my fault… the list is long. But the reality of it is, regardless of whether your reasons are valid or not, the outcome is still the same. Your 'reasons' aka 'excuses' are not going to get you what you want so unless you find a solution to your 'excuse' the only person you're going to end up failing is yourself. Do you think that guy with the six-pack, or that woman who lost 20kg's got there by luck? No! They put in the necessary work. They tracked their nutrition, they did their exercise and they lost their 'excuses'.
"If nothing changes, nothing changes"
To be able to change you have to make changes and one of the first steps is taking accountability and responsibility for your actions, realising that the only one that can really make the difference is you. If you only do what you've always done then you will only get what you've always got. And if you're constantly making excuses or blaming others for why you did or didn't do something then you are just lying to yourself about how serious you are about wanting to change.
People will prioritise what's most important to them and if you are placing more importance on things that conflict with your goals then you need to ask yourself, "Am I actually ready to make the necessary changes to achieve my success?" Don't be disappointed by the results that you didn't get because you didn't do what was necessary to get them. Take responsibility for yourself, own your choices, don't blame others for influencing your decisions because if you do then achieving your results will always be a constant battle of ups and downs, stops and starts, never really going anywhere. Successful people find solutions. Unsuccessful people find excuses.
What to remember
- Take accountability and responsibility for your choices
- · An excuse whether it's valid or not will still result in the same outcome.
- People who make excuses or blame others rarely achieve success
- Excuses and blame is often just a reflection of your priorities
7. I do too much cardio: Stop burning your muscle away
What's the most important thing for fat loss? If you said nutrition… Excellent! If you said weight training then great! You're on the right track. But if you said cardio then you better stop what you're doing and read on…
Without question the most important element for fat loss is nutrition. It is responsible for about 70-80% of your result. Weight training is the second most important element and cardio a distant third. Picture the 100 meter sprinter vs the marathon runner comparison. 2 people with very different physiques, why? Because of the type of training they do. One will focus on weight training, short burst of high intense cardio and they are more lean and muscular whilst the other will do minimal weight training, hours upon hours of cardio, are less muscular and often look gaunt and somewhat unhealthy.
Doing too much cardio could be preventing you from achieving your results by wasting away your existing lean muscle.
In a nutshell, weight training (anaerobic) has a much more powerful effect on elevating your resting metabolic rate than aerobic exercise. Increasing your weights sessions and reducing your cardio will allow your body to build and maintain lean muscle.
If cardio is part of your program make sure you are doing the right amount but unless you're training to run a marathon then there's no need to go for a 2 plus hour run. Re-think your training. Stop wasting away your muscle.
What to remember
- Over training with cardio can lead to muscle breakdown
- Cardio is great for improving cardiovascular fitness and burning excess calories but weight training is more important for muscle growth and fat burning
- Weight training elevates your resting metabolic rate more than cardio does
8. I'm not consistent: Diets start on Monday's
Ok here we go! It's Monday again, a new week, a chance to start over, because all diets start on Monday right? What better way to kick it off then by making a positive step towards your goal? Whether it's the start of a new week, a new season, you've just had a break up, you're getting married or it's just bloody Monday again, whatever the reason the key to success is consistency and many people find it difficult to achieve.
Fat loss requires consistently consuming the right amount of calories over a set period of time in combination with exercise. But people often underestimate what consistency means believing that 5 out of 7 days is good enough and the weekend is free range to do and consume whatever they like. Unfortunately the body doesn't work like that and when you are no longer in a calorie deficit then you are no longer able to burn fat.
If you're inconsistent and it's preventing you from achieving your goals then you need to find out why. If you are serious about achieving success then you need to find the solutions to whatever barriers are holding you back if not you will form the traits of the classic yo-yo dieter.
People will use a lot of excuses for their inconsistencies, I'm too busy, it's the holidays, it was my birthday, I was at a work function etc., etc.… But consistency isn't about waiting for the right moment or being selective of when you're prepared to do the right things. You must incorporate the appropriate actions for your goals in every day, not just when it suits. That's how consistency and new habits are formed.
What to remember
- Success is the result of doing good things consistency over time
- You will only get better at something by doing it more often
- Everyday counts… Including the weekend
- Inconsistency is often just a refection of how important your goals are to you
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.