You finally decided to get serious about weight loss and make this the year of transformation. You’re going to the gym four days a week, you’re eating well, and the scale isn’t moving. Sound familiar?
It does to me, too! In fact, at this moment I am preparing for an NPC bikini competition….and the scale is not budging. It’s frustrating to say the least. So, what do we do in these situations?!
While the true solution to your problem will depend on you as an individual, there are some general factors to consider that can help.
TRACK YOUR FOOD
The calculations are fairly simple when it comes to weight loss. Cut about 500 calories per day, you’ll lose about 1 pound per week. But if you don’t know your starting point, and you don’t track your calories, then it’s hard to know if you’re really cutting the right amount (or if you need to actually be eating more).
So, before you start changing your diet drastically, track everything that you eat for 1-2 weeks (I suggest MyFitnessPal so you can easily also record carbs, fat, protein, sugars, and sodium). From there, you can figure out how you need to adjust, and make sure you’re eating more than your basal metabolic rate, but less than the calories required for maintaining your weight. These can be estimated with helpful calculators on sites like www.freedieting.com and www.iifym.com. Or of course, you can contact me to help figure out all of your numbers and a meal plan to follow! 🙂
Once you have that, track your food regularly to make sure you’re not going too far over or under, and begin to understand how different foods affects your body so you can make adjustments accordingly.
2. CHANGE THE FOODS & TIMES YOU’RE EATING
The “cleaner”, more natural your foods are, the easier and more efficiently your body will process and use them. Eating every 3-4 hours will keep your metabolism boosted without drops in energy, starting immediately after you wake up. If you go too long between meals, your metabolism will slow down, trying to conserve energy. Plus, you’ll end up starving and overeating at your next meal.
Try to get in 20 grams of protein per meal (chicken breast, whey protein, egg whites, turkey, Greek yogurt, tofu). Get rid of processed foods and sugars and indulge just once a week for a break and keep you satisfied, but stick with whole foods like oats, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, rice, potatoes without many condiments or sauces. Use things like lite soy sauce, mustard, reduced sugar ketchup, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, coconut oil, and lots of herbs to spice up food without loads of extra calories.
3. DON’T DROP TOO FAST
Just because you “need” to cut 500 calories, don’t rush into anything. You may already be eating too little, and your metabolism has slowed down as a result. Or, your body may not like a drastic cut from what you’re eating and start trying to store fat. Don’t be afraid to cut slowly. Especially because your body needs nutrients to build muscle; and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn on a daily basis, even while sitting or sleeping.
Mentally, 500 less calories may also be taxing on your efforts. Let’s be real, no one likes to diet. So if you cut, say, 100 calories per week for 5 weeks, the weight may come off slower, but mentally you’ll be able to maintain it longer and let your body adjust gradually. Your body may not even need that full 500 calories – that’s just a general estimate – so remove a little at a time to see how your body reacts. Between a few hundred less calories, more frequent meals, and cleaner meals, your body may lose fat faster than expected.
4. ADD WEIGHTS & HIIT CARDIO
Weightlifting will change your body and create change faster than anything else. Adding muscle causes your body to burn more calories all day long, and creates shape and definition. Start light to get your muscles accustomed to lifting weights, but don’t stay there! Be sure to challenge yourself with a weight that by the time you get to about 15 reps you can barely move them. If 20 reps is easy, you’re not working hard enough. Not sure where to start with weights? Try this: Fat-Burning Full Body Workout
Similarly, if you’re doing steady state cardio for 45 minutes a day, your body will quickly adapt to that stressor. Change it up by working out for 15 minutes instead (Hight Intensity Interval Training), alternating between all out effort for 30-45 seconds, and resting for about 1 minute to let your heart rate come down. This can be done on a cardio machine or using plyometric moves like jump squats, burpees, mountain climbers, jumping lunges, skaters, etc. This will keep your muscles challenged while boosting your heart rate, and burn about the same amount of calories in less time.
5. KEEP GOING!
Yep, sometimes it’s that simple. This is THE most important tip in this blog. After two weeks of consistently going to the gym and cleaning up some of your eating habits, you assume the scale should be down about 10 pounds by now, right? Unfortunately you can’t rush your body. It took time to put on weight, it’s going to take time to take it off. Just keep at it. Your body takes time to adjust to your new habits, and even if you can’t see change NOW, you may be surprised by what you see in a few more weeks if you’ll just stick with it instead of giving up and eating a pint of ice cream out of frustration.
It’s very common to get frustrated quickly because your efforts don’t seem to be working. That’s when, females especially, tend to drastically cut calories or start doing insane amounts of cardio. Going extreme is not going to help you over the long term. So even if you’re not seeing major changes in two or three weeks, stick with your plan, and keep your calories and carbs high enough to give you energy for your workouts.
Don’t take drastic measures that will harm your metabolism or other body functions. Let the weight come off naturally, and be willing to sacrifice for a longer time period. Yes, it may take a while, but it will happen if you can overcome the mental battle to give up or choose unhealthy methods to drop weight too fast. If I have learned anything in my own transformation and current fitness competition preparation it is this: Persistence pays off.