Many women have the goal of losing weight every year. What I’ve found more often than not, is it’s not that they don’t know what to do, it’s that they get a little lost in the process of doing the right things. I’d like to help address the biggest pitfalls I see my female clients get stuck in when trying to lose weight.
Eating Too LITTLE Calories
I’ve actually seen this go pretty evenly both ways. People underestimate how many calories they eat therefore not putting them in a deficit to actually lose weight. For that, it’s more a matter of starting to track more accurately what you are actually eating each day (snacks included), and see if you are truly in a deficit (chances are you are not).
But there ARE many clients who truly are eating in a deficit. They may have lost a lot of weight initially, but now feel they are just stuck at a standstill. The problem in reality, is that they’ve been eating too little for too long. Most people don’t realize that there is actually a timeline to a weight loss goal (depending on how much weight you want to lose). Chances are, after about 2-3 months of consistent weight loss, you need a break. If you’ve gotten yourself anywhere below 1200 calories you most definitely need a break at maintenance. Keep in mind, that does NOT mean you failed, or can never hit your goal if you hadn’t already. It simply means, your body has slowed its metabolism down during your weight loss goal enough to where you would have to eat way too little calories for it to be healthy.
The solution to fixing this is spending 2-4 weeks at maintenance, and then continuing on with your diet (if that’s the goal). What we are trying to accomplish here is revving your metabolism back up so that when you diet again, you can get that same rate of weight loss as when you first started. Don’t feel frustrated if you find you gained back a couple pounds, as it’s most likely water weight. You will easily bring that back down later.
Doing Too Much Cardio
Along the same lines as eating too little, is that you are probably overdoing the cardio. If you are doing cardio every day, for 40+ minutes, AND eating less than 1200 calories, once again your metabolism has slowed down. In fact the two play a coupling effect as to why that happens. Our body adapts to cardio over time. It becomes more efficient at burning less calories. Add in the fact that you are eating at a deficit and you are really giving your body a reason to hold onto fat and burn through muscle. Muscle is calorically expensive to have and thus the first priority to go when in restriction. This is the opposite of what we want.
Not Including Resistance Training
So now we know cardio and a deficit burns through muscle instead of fat. How can we influence this the other way? Add in 2-3 days of resistance training. Your body needs a good reason to keep muscle on. Progressively lifting heavier weights is the signal your body needs to keep or add on muscle, and prioritize burning fat. Don’t worry about getting “too bulky”. It’s very hard for our bodies to put on slabs of muscle particularly while we are dieting. We are shooting to preserve what muscle we currently have. This will give the “toned” look most women strive for.
Bonus: Focusing on the Scale Too Much
Just as an overall point to your weight loss journey; try not to hedge all your success on the scale. Especially if it’s your first time resistance training. Yes, over time on a cut, we want to see the scale trending downwards. But if you are just starting out your weight lifting journey, there is a good chance you are recomping your physique. That means, you are losing fat, while putting on muscle. So you may see the scale heading nowhere (or even going up in some cases).
The big thing to pay attention to is how do you look and feel? If you are visually seeing your body change, then chances are you are losing fat. Don’t let the scale stress you out. It is only one of many variables to take into consideration when trying to lose weight. Treat it as such. Spend more time focused on healthy habits that you can see yourself SUSTAINING even beyond when the diet is long gone. The issue for most people isn’t losing weight. It’s being able to keep it off afterward.
Check out my articles on How to Calculate Your Macros For Rapid Weight Loss and Resistance Training for The Goal of Weight Loss for more tips on helping you along your fat loss journey.