1. Eating the Wrong Foods
Right off the bat you may be thinking “no shit sherlock,” however, it’s quite obvious when people are eating foods that are not optimal for them and having negative reactions. Many come to believe, however, that what are non-optimal foods in reality are health promoting after reading the wrong book or speaking to the wrong professional. To further complicate this with so much misinformation floating around the interwebz these days many feel it’s impossible to get healthy and resign to not trying to change. The answer to both these problems is to use a designed program that removes potential problematic foods, then systematically reintroduce them to observe what the overall reaction is to each. We are all individuals and must use a principled approach to determine what foods we thrive on, and in what amounts at each meal.
2. Not Eating Enough
Yes, the ugly cousin to #1 is to restrict total caloric intake to such minimal levels that the amazing machine we call our body begins to think we are starving, perhaps a famine is upon us, and effectively shuts down are metabolism to preserve the energy we have stored as fat and muscle. Caloric restriction does work, for all of 7-10 days, before adverse hormonal effects begin shutting our body down. Our physiology is wired for survival, it doesn’t know you can go get a burger 24/7. Calories do matter, but they are only part of the equation, in the end our hormones will dictate how much fat we metabolize, and while a nominal caloric deficit is needed, too much actually makes it harder to metabolize fat.
3. Too Much Cardio!
If you’ve stuck with me this long this one will REALLY challenge you. Yes I know your fitbit is telling you you’ve burned X number of calories, and you’ve calculated that you will lose a pound of fat every ….. days at your current exercise level and caloric intake. It’s far from that simple though, again our hormones will tell our body when or most of the time rather IF to burn fat. What most refer to as cardio uses a specific muscle type that by and large stops using energy once the training ends, while strength training utilized muscle fibers that burn fuel much longer. Too much exercise increases cortisol and can create a systemic inflammation state, one that ultimately hinders fat metabolism. The answer to this one is a training program centered on strength with the “goldilocks” amounts of cardio added strategically in.
4. Not Enough Strength
As mentioned above, strength training is optimal for establishing the right hormone levels which encourage lean muscle gain and fat metabolism, getting stronger is paramount to creating your most vigorous body, in every way. A proper training program boosts strength levels as the fat comes off. Look at gymnasts, who focus their entire training around being as strong and mobile as possible, and compare their physiques to endurance athletes who “exercise” for far longer periods of time.
5. Not Sleeping Enough/Too Much Caffeine
Now hold on, Zach! COFFEE BURNS FAT!!!! For some yes, for many, such as myself who is chronically sleep deprived due to cohabiting with two young mammals, caffeine is another of many stressors that further push our overall hormone profile into the “store fat” mode. Caffeine basically pushes the body instantly into fight or flight, releasing adrenaline and other stimulants, far outweighing whatever benefits you may receive. People like me experience a drop in blood sugar, increased fatigue, intensifying hunger, leading to eating too much or possibly sub-optimal foods. If caffeine works for you you’re not struggling with your body weight and appearance then by all means drink it to a level that doesn’t adversely effect you. If it doesn’t though, if you’re overweight and drinking coffee/tea, you may find, as I have, that little to no caffeine begins to stabilize your brain and body and reduce cravings and urges to overeat. Plus, you’ll ultimately be far more pleasant to be around after the initial caffeine detox (FYI I teach techniqes to manage the awfulness factor involved in this change).
6. Unhelpful Beliefs
When we desire a change in our lives, one we haven’t experienced, we form unrealistic beliefs and expectations. The most vicious are listed above. Far more subtle and sometimes sabotaging, are the beliefs we hold about ourselves and our ways of coping with the inherent stress of life.
Stop listening to people telling you to “de-stress,” etc., life will always be stressful if you crave to experience it to the fullest. The real solution is to learn and practice the mindset of those who have succeeded in your goal, yes I’m telling you to in effect “brain wash” yourself (those who are threatened by this usually need the deepest cleaning!). By becoming stronger internally and externally the stressors that used to uncenter us are no longer threatening and lead to unhealthy behaviors.
If you believe you “need” coffee to get going in the morning, alcohol frequently after work throughout the week, those “special treats” that you seem to always find a reason to have, etc. then me or anyone telling you to change those behaviors will feel threatening, and your brain’s strategy for survival is under attack and must find a way to ward off the offender by rationalizing your usage.
I personally have had to change my beliefs concerning a handful of ultimately unhealthy behaviors. Yes it is hard, however in the end I have learned that the real “sacrifice” was my previous unhealthy behavior. I was sacrificing my overall satisfaction in life, that elusive “happiness,” for momentary intense pleasure hits of dopamine. For every high there is a low. Want to eliminate the lows in life? Consciously choose and then practice to let go of the highs that throw you out of balance.
I offer no magic pills or potions that make changing any easier. What I do teach is what needs to change and the most efficient, effective strategy reaching that destination. Life isn’t meant to be easy, if you’re waiting for the kids to get older, work to calm down, the right person to come along, yada-yada-yada you will be waiting forever unless you change your mindset.
If you’ve reached that point where you are willing to change, to follow a proven formula that gets the results you want, then enter your information below to receive a free nutrition guide, the very same one my students get while going through the world’s #1 complete body/health transformation, The Amazing 12 Week Physique! You’ll then be able to schedule a no obligation consult with me to learn hands on better techniques in the gym and if you’re truly ready to be healthy, lean and strong, step up and create your leanest, strongest body in only 12 weeks.