What’s the real issue here?

by | April 15, 2019 | Diet and Nutrition, Fitness, Sleep

Okay, so you’ve been clipping along at a good tilt,
 
You’re making good progress in the gym, 
 
You’re dropping fat,
 
You’re feeling better, 
 
And then it happens. 
 
Out of nowhere, 
 
Like a ninja in the night…
 
Your progress stalls out. 
 
And despite your efforts to bring it back on track,
 
You just can’t. 
 
You fight, 
 
Tooth and nail, 
 
But things just won’t budge.
 
Well, chances are these things didn’t just happen overnight.
 
Chances are they slowly progressed to the point where they are now.
 
A little leeway here, 
 
A little liberty there,
 
And over time, BOOM…big change,
 
or should we say,
 
lack of change.
 
If this is you and you’re looking to get back on track,
 
Here are some common culprits for a lack of progress:
 
 

1. Recovery

Stress sucks.
 
Like really sucks.
 
We wrote about this here.
 
Not only can stress cause actual fat gain in the abdomen and upper back,
 
It can mess up your hormones. 
 
Specifically, the ones involved in keeping you energized,
 
Ones that help with sleep,
 
And believe it or not, 
 
The hormones that help regulate your metabolism.
 
So, when you stress out…you shut down your body’s ability to burn fat.
 
A great way to assess your stress is to use a stress web.
 
Take a look at the many facets of your life, 
 
And see if stress is unusually high in any areas. 
 
A little stress is good for you, 
 
It keeps you alert, 
 
And keep’s you on point,
 
But excess stress can wear you down, 
 
Mess with your head,
 
Mess with your muscle-building,
 
Mess with your fat loss, 
 
And mess with your ability to make progress in the gym. 
 
Do an initial assessment of your stress using the stress web,
 
And if you find your overall stress is high, 
 
Implement some strategies to combat it.
 
Physical stress?
 
Try some massage, 
 
A Float tank,
 
Or meditation. 
 
Social stress? 
 
Hit up one of your buds and go out for a coffee. 
 
Relationship stress?
 
Learn how to have a crucial conversation.
 
Emotional or mental stress? 
 
See a counsellor. 
 
Managing stress will be huge in getting your body back on track. 
 
 

2. Sleep

A lack of sleep is definitely a form of stress,
 
But it deserves its own section.
 
A lack of sleep can mess with your hormones that regulate hunger and fullness.
 
Specifically, it increases your hunger hormones,
 
And decreases your satiety hormones. 
 
So, you end up thinking you need more food than you actually do. 
 
Plus, the types of foods you crave changes as well. 
 
As in you crave doughnuts, 
 
Cakes, 
 
Pizza,
 
Chips, 
 
etc.
 
And crave less whole, minimally-processed foods like 
 
Fish,
 
Veggies, 
 
Nuts, 
 
And legumes. 
 
So, obviously over time,
 
This change in behaviour can wreak havoc on your health without really even knowing what happened.
 
So, what to do? 
 
Well, we talked about it here.
 
But the main thing is to implement a sleep ritual
 
And try to add a realistic amount of sleep each night. 
 
It’s not stupid to add 10-15 mins per week until you reach that elusive 7-9 hours.
 
The key is to take a step in the right direction with an action that is realistic for you. 
 
 

3. Working out too hard

Working out is awesome…
 
Don’t get it twisted. 
 
Regular strength training can help burn fat,
 
Help manage your blood sugars,
 
And build muscle. 
 
But working out for too long,
 
At too high of an intensity,
 
Or having too many hard workouts in a week
 
is another form of stress. 
 
Again, this can mess with your hormones,
 
And compromise your body’s ability to recover and burn fat.
 
So, if you think you may be working out too hard, 
 
First off, you’re likely a Type A, 
 
So just give yourself a hug.
 
It’s going to be okay.
 
Second, take a look at your training week,
 
If you’ve been training for over a year,
 
2-3, maybe 4 harder workouts should be okay,
 
5, 6 or 7 will likely burn you out. 
 
Intersperse hard workouts with recovery days that include 
 
Stretching, 
 
Foam rolling, 
 
Playing outside, 
 
Going for a walk with your family,
 
Yoga, 
 
Or meditation.
 
Anything to break up the grind of your hard workouts. 
 
 

4. Not working out hard enough

Conversely, training with too little intensity isn’t good either. 
 
If you’re a newbie to the gym, 
 
You can basically do anything and you’ll progress, 
 
So enjoy it. 
 
But, if you’ve been at it for over a year, 
 
You need to make sure you are using appropriate overload in your workouts. 
 
The principle governing this response is the principle of progressive overload,
 
What it means is that you need to train with a load that is beyond what you can do now, 
 
And you need to do that over time.
 
When lifting weights, 
 
Use the reps in reserve (RIR) technique.
 
If you’re doing 12 reps of an exercise, 
 
You should have 1-2 reps in reserve after the set.
 
If you feel like you can do 5, 10, even 15 more reps, 
 
The weight is too light. 
 
You need to up that thing! 
 
As long as you keep the form tight, 
 
Focus on keeping your core braced, 
 
Proper breathing, 
 
Bending the bar, 
 
And ripping the floor apart, 
 
You’ll be safe. 
 
A hard set shouldn’t be a grind. 
 
You should still have 100% control of the weight, 
 
And you should be able to execute it with the same form as you do with lighter weight. 
 
 

5. Not getting enough movement in your day

Movement is great. 
 
We talked about it here
 
Movement consumes energy, 
 
Encourages blood flow
 
And helps reduce stress. 
 
Plus, it’s just fun to move. 
 
Some low-intensity movement after a hard day is an opportunity to decompress,
 
A chance to connect with others,
 
And a chance to be out in nature. 
 
If you’re not moving every day, 
 
Start by adding 5 minutes to the days when you’re not active.
 
If you don’t have 5 minutes, 
 
Get off your phone,
 
Stop reading this article,
 
And go do it. 
 
Build up to 30 or more minutes of activity every day to kickstart your progress. 
 
 

6. Healthy Fats 

Healthy fats are great.
 
You need them to manage hunger, 
 
Keep your hormones humming, 
 
Keep your mind right, 
 
And to keep your heart in check. 
 
But healthy fats are quite dense,
 
And too much of them can stall your fat loss. 
 
They’re just so sneaky.
 
You don’t even see them coming. 
 
Plus, they taste amazing! 
 
Nut butters are awesome. 
 
But an extra thumb of peanut butter here and there can add up.
 
Avocado – also great…
 
But, also super dense in energy.
 
Olive oil – again, great for the ticker, 
 
But too much can make fat loss tough.
 
Aim for 1-2 thumb-sized servings per meal.
 
Not golf ball-sized, 
 
Thumb-sized. 
 
 

7. Super shakes

Super shakes are an easy,
 
Convenient,
 
And delicious way to get a healthy meal on the go.
 
If you don’t have time to make a meal, 
 
if you don’t feel like eating, 
 
Or if you just love the taste of them, 
 
They’re a great addition to a healthy diet. 
 
But, they go down pretty smooth, 
 
Like real smooth.
 
This smoothness,
 
in addition to the deliciousness of them,
 
can make it easy to throw back without any regard for your hunger or fullness. 
 
The biggest thing with this one is to drink it slowly and mindfully.
 
Take a sip, 
 
Put it down,
 
See how you feel.
 
If you’re still hungry,
 
Take another sip.
 
Stay tuned to your body signals, 
 
And you should be okay.
 
You could also take a look at the contents of the shake. 
 
For example, how much healthy fat is in there? 
 
But drinking slowly and mindfully would be a great start. 
 
 

8. Processed foods

With processed foods, 
 
Like candy,
 
Manufactured carbohydrates, 
 
Sugary drinks,
 
And foods from a box,  
 
We can typically eat more of them unnoticed. 
 
As in, they don’t fill you up like minimally-processed, whole foods because of their lower amounts of fibre and other nutrients. 
 
Their low nutritional value makes it easy to bypass your hunger.
 
As always, aim for eating minimally processed whole foods like
 
Vegetables, 
 
Fish,
 
Chicken, 
 
Beef, 
 
Quinoa,
 
Rice, 
 
Beans, 
 
Nuts, 
 
Seeds, 
 
And avocados.
 
Build up to eating this way 80% of the time. 
 
Start by adding one meal per week of minimally-processed whole foods. 
 
Try that for a couple of weeks. 
 
Then add another meal per week. 
 
The key is to do an honest evaluation of where you’re at,
 
And build up a realistic amount every 1-2 weeks.
 
Over time, you’ll get there,
 
But don’t try to do it all at once. 
 
 

9. Emotional eating 

This is common of so many adults we work with.
 
They have a stressful day at work, 
 
so they eat.
 
They get bored, 
 
so they eat.
 
They feel lonely, 
 
so they eat.
 
Emotional eating is not regulated by a physiological need to eat, 
 
It’s driven by the emotions we feel,
 
And it’s usually a deeply ingrained behaviour that has been going on for quite some time. 
 
Therefore it’s not easy to kick this one, 
 
But breaking free from it can unlock some serious progress.
 
Step 1 is to bring awareness to the emotional eating. 
 
Start with noticing and naming. 
 
For example, 
 
“I notice that I am eating and I am not hungry. 
 
This could be emotional eating.” 
 
Then journal how you feel. 
 
For example, if you find yourself emotional eating in the evening, take a look at your day:
 
“I had a hard day at work today,
 
My boss yelled at me, 
 
That order was delayed,
 
And I had to miss all my breaks.
 
This was stressful. 
 
I want to eat to soothe that stress.”
 
Next, find an alternate activity to plug in for the times when you feel that emotion,
 
And do that instead.
 
If you find doing puzzles enjoyable and relaxing, 
 
Hit one up instead of cracking open a bag of Doritos to soothe stress. 
 
If loneliness makes you want to eat,
 
Soothe your woes by getting a dog, 
 
Or calling up one of your friends to hang out.  
 
 

Wrap-up

Chances are you know the issue that is stalling out your progress. 
 
It’s that big elephant in the room you know you eventually need to address, 
 
But really don’t want to.
 
That’s a strong indicator that you found the right culprit – the fact that you don’t want to do it.
 
But, to get your body to the next level requires tackling this thing head on. 
 
Now, don’t get overwhelmed at what’s ahead. 
 
Instead, break the big goal down into smaller actions that you can do every day,
 
They should even seem easy.
 
Build up to the ideal over time.
 
Don’t overlook the value of implementing small changes every day.
 
Just like my man, Zig Ziglar, used to say…
 
“You can eat an elephant…one bite at a time”. 
 

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