(ThyBlackMan.com) In my day job, I work as a clinical exercise physiologist in cardiac rehab and I often see obese patients with heart conditions. As you probably know, obesity is a major problem in the black community, so this article outlines tips on how to overcome setbacks to achieve successful weight loss. See below:
You step on the scale and see the same numbers. After threatening to shoot it, you wonder what the hell you’re doing wrong? Nothing has changed in over a month!
Although the scale numbers may not have changed, your body composition (measurement of body fat, muscle, and bone density) probably has. Excess body fat is the main culprit, not overall body weight. The more body fat you burn off, ultimately, the more weight you lose, so the scale matters. It’s the first indication of success or failure. Seeing the same numbers can be demoralizing.
But your efforts haven’t worked! What the hell?
If you’ve run into a roadblock in your weight-loss goals, here are nine possible reasons why:
1. Doing cardio only
Although cardio improves the cardiorespiratory system and burns fat calories, strength training builds muscle (like lifting weights). Muscle also burns fat calories, even at rest.
Tip: The best routines for weight management and overall health include cardio, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises.
2. Not increasing intensity
The human body adapts to increased physical activity by improving oxygen delivery, muscular endurance, and strength overtime. However, if you don’t periodically pump up the intensity (like adding weight on the chest press machine or running faster on the treadmill), you may plateau and not see more optimal results on the scale.
Tip: Try mixing up exercise routines with high intensity interval training (or HIIT), heavier weights, and circuits.
3. Not moving enough
In general, people are becoming more sedentary. Current recommendations for cardio exercises are 150 minutes a week to maintain general health, but from 250 to 300 minutes for weight loss. For improved muscularity, the same guidelines recommend strength training for major muscle groups at least twice a week on nonconsecutive days.
Tip: Increase daily physical activity with not only strength training and cardio, but by doing more yard work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking far away, or walking the dog.
4. Nutrition: Not modifying diet or eating enough
Proper nutrition and daily physical activity go hand-and-hand for optimal health, but after years of not worrying about what we eat, reducing intake of foods packed with not-so-healthy ingredients (excess sodium, saturated fat and processed sugars) can be extremely difficult. You may not lose much body fat if you continue to eat the wrong foods, even with a new exercise routine.
Some people think they can speed up the fat loss process by severely reducing daily food intake. Not eating enough may signal the body to store extra fat. If you skip breakfast, you may become famished by lunchtime, then end up devouring crappy fast foods.
Tip: Add more raw, unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats (like grilled chicken or fish) and whole grains in your diet. Try to eat small healthy meals throughout the day.
Although medications treat different chronic conditions, some of them carry an unwelcome side effect: weight gain. Weight gain may come from retention of fluids, lower metabolism, or an increased appetite. You may even feel too tired to exercise because of a particular medication.
Tip: Before stopping your prescription, talk to your doctor about an alternative.
6. Not Managing Stress
We all experience different kinds of stress that impact our daily lives, from family, work, school, finances, and even technology. Unfortunately, chronic stress can cause weight gain because of the hormone cortisol. If the stress continues, cortisol signals the body to store more fat and increase your appetite.
Tip: Exercise, a passion hobby, listening to music, and an active sex life are great de-stressors!
7. Not getting enough sleep
Good sleep repairs, restores, and revitalizes our bodies. Poor sleep disturbs all the processes that make us feel refreshed. Feeling sluggish may also impact the quality of exercise or kill the motivation to exercise all together. Also, the longer we stay up, the higher the chances of eating high-calorie snacks while watching TV.
Tip: Put away all unhealthy snacks and electronic devices before bed, then make the room as dark as possible for better sleep.
8. Improper hydration
Like adequate sleep and nutrition, our bodies need water. Water is used for distribution of nutrients, waste excretion, temperature control, joint lubrication, and blood pressure management. Yet, too many of us choose sugary and caffeinated beverages over good ol’ fashioned H20. Water doesn’t “flush away” fat, but it has zero calories and suppresses the munchies.
Tip: Instead of soda or some other sugary beverage, try adding a lemon slice to a cup of water for flavor.
9. Health-related condition
Some diseases thwart the best efforts of physical activity by delaying weight loss or even causing weight gain. It’s not uncommon for someone with diabetes or hypothyroidism to experience difficulty losing weight. Besides cortisol, hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and leptin may contribute to weight gain if left unbalanced.
Tip: Managing stress, adequate sleep, healthy diet, and exercise are crucial for keeping your hormones in check. It’s always a good idea to make your annual medical appointments (which may identify a problem before it gets worse). If you experience unexpected weight gain or rapid weight loss, contact your doctor immediately.
Burning excess fat can be extremely difficult. It requires a lot of “nevergiveupness” to see the numbers dropping on the scale. No wonder it’s a multi-billionaire business!
Like any long-term plan, if you periodically tweak your strategy and keep at it, you’ll reach your goals. It will probably be the only time in your life to proudly call yourself “a loser.”
Staff Writer; James Lewis
Fitness Tips? Need Advice? The brother can be found at; [email protected].