As a personal trainer, I see a lot of people struggle with weight loss. I really don't blame them because, first, I do know how hard it can be and, second, there are many misconceptions out there when it comes to this subject. This article talks about the top 7 mistakes that people make when they start the process of losing weight.
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Mistake #1: No Calorie Deficit
Most people who start exercising will definitely create a calorie deficit just by exercising alone. This means that they didn't change anything in their diet. But, once their bodies get used to the additional activity, they stop losing weight. This is the situation called fat loss plateau. What do you do when you reach a plateau?
The fix: Reduce the amount of calories that you eat. Figure out how many calories you're already eating and adjust it so that you will have at least a 15% calorie deficit.This is explained more after I discuss mistake #2.
Mistake #2: Starving Yourself
The opposite of mistake #1, a lot of people tend to reduce their calorie intake by way too much to the point that they don't have energy for their workouts and/or their body cannot function well. We've all heard that we can survive on a 1200 calorie diet and still be fine but most people tend to start with this number.
The fix: A better number to start with would be about 15% under your calorie maintenance. For instance, if you need to eat 2000 calories in order to maintain your current weight then, you can reduce this down to 1700 calories in order to lose weight. After you've reached a plateau while eating these many calories, you can then reduce it by 20%, 25% and all the way down to 30%. Reducing your calories by more than 30% is not beneficial to your weight loss and is not necessary.
Mistake #3: Too Much Cardio
Have you ever heard the term "Cardio King or Queen"? These are the people who seem to hog the treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes at the gym but you will never find them in the free weights section. Most of these people are probably skinny with no muscle tone on them or probably look the same year in and year out. Many people tend to think that they can just melt their fat off by running which is a complete myth. When people run, they usually run at a low intensity for longer periods of time so they don't burn much calories. They usually only burn calories while they are running. They will not burn any calories outside the gym.
The fix: Perform high intensity interval training (HIIT) by warming up with a light jog. Then, perform sprints for 20 seconds followed by active rest (light jog) for 40 seconds. Repeat the sprints and active rest intervals for 6-8 times and then cool down. You can increase your sprinting time as you get better at doing them. But, before you do your cardio, read mistake #4 first.
Mistake #4: Not Enough Weight Lifting
This mistake is similar to mistake #3 but also different. There are also people who prioritize cardio over strength training. People who don't do enough weight lifting usually hang out by the weight machines for a few minutes and then head over to the cardio machines for an hour. The amount of weight they lifted would simply not show long term, visible changes on their body because it is just not enough.
The Fix: Focus on lifting heavier free weights for at least 30 minutes before you perform your HIIT. Some of the best exercises for weight loss are push ups, chin ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, planks, side planks, military press, bench press etc. These exercises all have one thing in common: you are using multiple joints at the same time when you do them so that you will burn more calories in less time.
Mistake #5: Diet Mentality
I've seen this mistake so many times that I just have to include it. I like diets because they teach us how much to eat and what kinds of food to eat. But, what a lot of people tend to do is they follow the diet for a certain period of time. After the diet is "over," they tend to go back to their old ways which makes them gain the weight back and leads to yo-yo dieting.
The fix: Find a good diet to follow and incorporate all the things that you learned in your daily life for the long run. Never think of eating healthy as being on a "diet" again and you will see that you will keep your results (and probably lose more fat) more permanently.
#6 Focusing on weight
Many people tend to be dictated how they're day is going to be like by the number on the scale. We focus so much about losing pounds that we don't pay attention to the other progress that we have made.
The fix: There are many ways to assess your progress and here are some of them: take before and after pictures, measure yourself with a tape measure, have your body fat percentage taken, create a workout log and write down the weights that you use to see increases in strength, etc. As you can see, there are just the tangible assessments that we use but if you're consistent with your workouts and nutrition, you will feel sexier outside and healthier inside.
#7 Doing the same thing over and over again
Albert Einstein once said that, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." But, this is something that a lot of us tend to do. We do the same exercises and eat the same foods and/or the same amount of foods but we expect to lose weight. Once our bodies get used to our increased activity, it will be more efficient at doing those activities that we would need to trick it to get more results.
The fix: Change your workout program every four weeks and adjust your calories once you lose weight. Changing your workout means your body needs to adapt to the new movements so it has to work harder and burn more calories as a result. In terms of calories, your calorie requirement needs to be adjusted based on your current weight and not the weight that you started with.
There you have, the top 7 mistakes that fat loss newbies make when they're getting started. Follow the fixes for each mistake and you will no doubt see results in no time.
Edited by qc595114118 - Aug 01 2013 at 12:55am