Anyone who’s ever stuck to an exercise regime religiously but still couldn’t budge the weight knows how disheartening the weight loss journey can be. Have you ever found that despite all that running/swimming/brisk walking/star jumping or push-upping those stubborn kilos still stick like glue? Well, the possible answers are just as varied as your exercise of choice. But here’s a few of the more unsuspecting weight-loss saboteurs.
#1 Trying to out-exercise a bad diet
There’s a reason this saying is so popular, and that’s because we are fooled into thinking a Meal deal on Friday night is OK if we powerwalk for 45 minutes on Saturday. But, of course maths and weight loss, do not work like that. Here’s why: a large hamburger and fries equates to around 3960kJ (kilojoules), while the average female adult (depending on age, build, muscle, body and other factors) only requires around 8000kJ per day, according to Nutrition Australia. That 8000kJ is likely to be exceeded once you add the rest of the day’s kilojoules (also known as energy).
Golden rule: If you consume more kilojoules than you burn through physical activity throughout the day, you store the extra kilojoules as fat. If you want to lose excess fat, you need to consume fewer kilojoules, or burn more energy by exercising more, or both.
#2 Skipping the big five
The big five food groups, that is. These include:
- Vegetables and legumes.
- Grains (cereal)
- Lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese & alternatives.
If you are serious about losing weight and living a healthier life, choosing the right foods and eating the correct amount of these foods is vital to reaching your goal weight and staying there. Check out the Healthy Eating Pyramid, a guide which shows the five core food groups, plus healthy fats, as well as suggested serving sizes recommended for a healthy balanced, according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013).
Golden rule: You can’t swap 2000kJ of chocolate or chips or any unhealthy food for 2000kJ of vegetables or healthy foods and still lose weight. As well as weight loss and overall health, choosing the right foods is vital for our bodies to perform essential functions, including cell metabolism, transporting substances around the body and maintaining the functioning of our muscles and organs.
#3 The weight loss plateau
Some people lose weight when they first start exercising, and then the weight loss slows down or stops. Although the cause can be hard to pinpoint, here’s a few possible reasons: the fat is turning into muscle (yay!), excess water retention, the type of foods being eaten (see point 1 and 2), or hormones (see point 4).
Golden rule: Don’t stress if there’s a couple of weeks plateau. Instead of relying on the scales, try monitoring your Body Mass Index (BMI is your weight divided by your height), alongside measuring your waist circumference. Also, try on your clothes and look in the mirror - if your clothes are getting looser, you could still be losing weight. If the plateau continues, head to your doctor or a healthcare professional to help you discuss a diet and exercise plan that suits your lifestyle. They will also refer you to the right support services, including exercise physiologists and behavioural therapists, to help you look into why you aren’t losing weight.
#4 A hormone imbalance
A whole load of health conditions can prevent weight loss, including a hormone imbalance. A hormone imbalance may be triggered due to stress, lack of physical activity or sleep, a diet high in processed foods, physical injury, age, genetics, an over/under production of estrogen, progesterone or testosterone (amongst many other factors). Being overweight or obese can lead to a higher likelihood of chronic health conditions, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Golden rule: If you suspect you may have a hormone imbalance, get your doctor on side immediately. They can investigate possible issues, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), thyroid conditions or insulin resistance and can also support you through your weight loss journey through diet and exercise.