We’ve all been there. Fully focused on our goal, hitting the gym every day, turning down drinks, eating only what’s on our diet plan, staying strong and busting our butt. Except the weight loss stopped, or the strength gain stalled, or what used to be easy, isn’t anymore. But everything has been done perfectly! So what gives?
There could be a whole bunch of different factors that play into stalled or reversed progress. The 5 (yes there’s at least 5) major things you didn’t realize were happening can have a big impact on how your body responds to outside stressors (such as diet and exercise).
- SLEEP! The number one thing I ask clients when they have not gotten the results they hoped for is ‘hows your sleep?’. Our bodies do the most recovery when we sleep. So when we miss out on sleep, the body can’t fully rest and reset. Check your sleep by doing a few things. Keep track of hours spent in bed, if you wake up at night, not falling asleep easily, etc. I know sometimes it’s hard to get a full perfect nights sleep, there are times that I’m not even home for enough hours between clients to get a full 8 hours of sleep. Between work, kids, family, errands, house stuff, Netflix, animals, most people do not prioritize sleep as much as other things. My advice is: do what you can, strive to improve and set as much of a routine as you can. If it’s not working, focus on the next paragraphs instead.
- OVERTRAINING. Sometimes your body is just simply tired. When you’re constantly training, the body has to keep up with recovery. If you don’t have enough rest or fuel, recovery becomes compromised. Muscles stop healing, your body is craving fuel, you might become irritable, have a hard time falling or staying asleep, and potentially lead to muscle cramps and injuries. The easiest way to avoid overtraining is to simply schedule in your rest. Whether it’s a complete rest day, a ‘refeed’ day, or active recovery (leisurely swim, walk, family bike ride, yoga), just making sure you give your body the rest it needs so it can do what you want!
- STRESS – When we are stressed, our hormone levels change, our habits change, our focus shifts. If you’re suddenly dealing with a major stressor, or compounding small stressors, it can have a major impact on how your body responds to your typical diet and exercise. If you can control the way you handle stress, you can get your progress back on track. If you have a hard time with that, then you can at least recognize that it is having an impact, and adjust what you’re doing, or your expectations to work around it.
- OVEREATING! This sounds simple, right? Can’t lose weight? Just eat less! But that’s not always how it works. You can think you’re eating all the right portions, cooking your own foods, meal prepping, tracking and all of that, but sometimes its just not enough, or rather, it’s not what you think. As you lose weight, gain weight, and shift fat mass: fat-free mass ratios, the amount of food needed will also change. Some people keep the same calorie amount, or macros ratios even after they’ve lost weight. However, their body will require less energy to just simply exist. If you started your journey with a 20-minute jog at 250lbs, but now weight 190lbs, that same 20-minute jog will require way less energy because not only has your weight gone down, but you are now more efficient at jogging. The body is lazy; it likes to find a way to do the least amount of work as possible, so it adapts and gets better. This results in accidental overeating. The easiest thing to do if you’ve been at the same exact calorie level or macro level for a while is to adjust down in small increments. If you haven’t been paying attention to the amount of food consumed – start tracking and keep your eyes open for patterns, snacks, dressings, oils during cooking etc. and you might find that the small things will add up.
- UNDEREATING – I know everyone has heard the phrase ‘starvation mode’ before, and while that’s not exactly a thing, the body does tend to reserve it’s energy when it’s not being fed enough. Strength gains, weight loss, and body composition will all take a pause if you’re just simply starving the body. We all need food, fats, carbs, proteins, vitamins, and minerals all to survive. When you deprive too much, your muscles will not recover, your organs and involuntary muscle movements (breathing, digestion, blood flow, etc) will take over the energy demands and progress will halt. Prolonged dieting is a major factor in most cases. Sometimes all you need is a few days or a week or two of a ‘refeed’ to get back on track. Just eat good quality food, in a slightly larger capacity and your body will thank you.
Some of these are related, and others are contradictory, but all have an effect on how the body responds. The good news is that these are all simple things that can be fixed, or addressed. Take a minute to think about your goals, and adjust where necessary! you’ll notice a difference in just a few days with some of these!!