**How to avoid the biggest mistakes that most home exercisers make**
I've always been an advocate for having a home gym setup in case of emergencies. But for some people, working out at home is the reason why they DON'T see the progress they want.
With more of us working out at home than ever before, there are even MORE options for the home exerciser than everrrrr before. Nearly every gym is offering “on-demand” options online, and every fit pro on IG is providing “quick and easy” moves you can do with little to no equipment from home.
IF you're working out at home for only a week or two, then feel free to take FULL advantage of testing any and every idea or option available right now. Use this time for getting in YOUR movement any way that you can, and discovering styles of exercising that you didn't know even existed to see if you find something you like. Give yourself the gift of variety at some point of your journey, it can be just the thing you need during high stress periods, or for a quick break from your usual (more strategic, less variety) workout plans.
However, physique adaptations can happen in as little as 3 weeks, so plan accordingly. Rest weeks and planned downtime can be an amazing gift if you've been running yourself into the ground – OR – it can be the nail in the coffin of your goals.
IF you will likely be working out from home for LONGER than 2-3 weeks, have a back up plan.
To make the best of your at home workouts, and assure you get continual, compounding results even during the quarantine, avoid these 5 mistakes most home exercisers make:
1) Not taking your workouts seriously. Just because you're home, doesn't mean you get to slack off/do laundry between sets (ok…so I'm talking to myself on that one! 🤣)
2) Being Random. Workout with a purpose. Once you're out of the newbie phase, random Pinterest/homemade, etc. workouts won't have the same effect that they used to.
3) Not progressing. When a workout gets easy, or you can lift heavier, etc…do it! Just because you sweat or can still “feel the burn” doesn't mean it's “working” in the way you think. The only way to keep seeing changes is to make an effort to progress in your workouts.
4) Not changing it up. Doing the same exercises/workouts/videos is not going to have the same results in Month 6 that it had in month 1. Don't be afraid to move on (even if it's just for a little while) when the workout is no longer serving you (or… if you can quote the video word for word.)
5) Not giving yourself room to grow. Make it a point to purchase heavier weights, incorporate new videos, or other equipment that allows you to make the exercise harder over time. Don't stifle yourself by refusing to equip yourself for the next level.
Remember, if it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you!
Increasing calories is an important aspect of building muscle. As we discussed in a previous blog post, you cannot build muscle and lose fat at the same time. So there should be a point in your year where the focus is on building muscle, and winter is usually a great time to do just that.
Increasing Calories in the Winter
There are two major reasons for increasing calories in the winter – maintenance eating and building muscle. For most people, there is a natural tendency to “fall off” dieting in the Fall and Winter. Because the urge to increasing calories is normal during these colder months, it makes sense to utilize this for muscle building. By doing so, this sets the stage for success in the Spring/Summer when fat loss is desired. In addition to heeding natural tendencies, taking an extended diet break during this period gives your metabolism a chance to heal/re-boot from cut phases.
(Remember: Over time your metabolism adjusts to whatever calorie level you're eating consistently. So if you are in a cut for too long, that caloric level becomes your new maintenance.)
A winter reset (eating at maintenance) actually helps your metabolism to heal, giving your body a good amount of time to “remember” where TDEE is before another cut is attempted. During this time, many in the fam will choose to eat in surplus of their TDEE (Bulk). Bulking gives your body extra calories, which helps to build more muscle. Whether you eat at maintenance or bulk during the winter, either will help achieve greater fat loss in the spring. Too many dieters think that restricting calories for many many months will help get to goal faster. The truth is, without taking those breaks – you often feel as if you look worse because of the muscle loss from non-stop dieting. Just remember, you can't show off muscle in the summer, if you haven't built the muscle under the fat in the winter (or at some point throughout the year!).
It's no secret that muscle building phases can cause some gains on the scale and “puffiness” on the body (as muscle builds underneath the fat layers, pushing it outward). In many parts of the world, winter tends to be the time where layers of clothing are worn. Those heavier sweaters, hoodies, sweatpants, blanket scarves, etc provide the perfect opportunity to stylishly “hide” areas you'd rather not flaunt, while you get down to business (building muscle). By fully embracing this as a time of year for muscle building, you can fully enjoy your fat loss phase in the spring and summer (with the benefit of increased metabolism!).
Be sure to take advantage of the colder months to rest, recharge and take a break from a reduction in calories. But do so with purpose (not simply “I'll start over in Spring!”). Tracking calories and paying attention to your macros are still very important during this time. Be sure to enjoy yourself, but remember that maintaining now allows for a successful cut later.
Vegan protein almost sounds like an oxymoron. Protein mainly comes from animals or dairy, two of the largest eliminations from a vegan diet. So it almost seems impossible to get the suggested 30% of protein in a day in order to maximize fat loss. Many EM2WL vegans may think that this exempts them from the protein recommendations, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
Vegan protein vs. vegetarian protein
It's no secret that vegans and vegetarians can have a harder time hitting their protein macro. But it is not impossible, nor should it be excusable. Vegetarians have a slightly easier job because they can still eat dairy and eggs. Vegans however have to get a bit more creative when it comes to protein.
Nuts, seeds tofu and legumes often become the main focus for a vegan lifestyle. These items can certainly help fill in some of the vegan protein gap, but they also tend to have higher levels of fat and carbs attached to them. This means that the ratio can be harder to balance out for those striving to hit physique-specific goals.
For example, beans have a high level of protein, but the carb level also increases by 4x. This could mean that the beans carry 10g of protein, but the carbs could be 50 or 60g. This makes it very hard to hit macros such as 40/30/30. Vegans would need to pay closer attention to their vegan protein source, and it's carb/protein/fat ratios to ensure that balance and still maximize their ability to lose fat.
Awareness is key. Simply knowing to pay attention in these areas will begin to open your eyes to items that may have been right under your nose all along. For example: many EM2WL vegans have found ways to increase their protein intake with simple swaps of plant based bread products. These give a much higher level of protein than regular bread. These can be a little hard to find locally, but if you are an international shopper you could try ordering from Here.
When it comes to balancing your macros, the only thing to keep in mind is that, for fat loss, protein should still hit that 30-35% mark. Vegans actually need to eat slightly more than a carnivore when it comes to getting in protein, simply because of the kinds of proteins they eat. They don't process the same as meat and dairy do.
Allow carbs and fat to fall where they may, based on personal preference, so long as the protein hovers above that 30% mark. For a vegan this may take some time, (ok a LOT of time) to work your way up to that percentage, but the higher that level can get, the better off a muscle-keeping, fat-loss-seeking vegan will be.
In our previous blog post, we discussed three main reasons why many women struggle with fat loss:
– Women are more focused on “weight” loss, rather than fat loss. – Hormones can play a big role in how fast and where the fat loss can occur. – Women generally have a lower muscle mass than men do.
While we could have certainly ended the conversation there, (solving any one of those issues could result in a shift in fat loss for most ladies), we feel compelled to bring the topic home by pointing out the elephant in the room: The Diet Mentality. Even if most ladies understand the central theme behind developing a less stressed, “muscle-based” mindset, they still want to go about solving their fat loss issues with extreme diets and unrealistic deadlines.
When we choose to diet in a way to lose “weight,” (remember reason #1!) we typically select very extreme methods to do so. (*cough* 1200 calorie diets!)
Whenever you embark on a low calorie diet your body is forced to make less food spread farther, so it often has to make budget cuts to survive (literally). Because muscle requires more calories to maintain, extreme “budget cuts” can put those precious muscles you're striving so hard to hold on to, in jeopardy. When the body is faced with a low calorie (especially low protein) diet – it has to break down muscles in order to “find” the protein it needs to survive (essentially getting rid of those dang “expensive” muscles, so that the budget can spread further!).
Most women (whether on a diet or not) prefer a high carb, high fat diet with very low protein incorporated. When coupled with little to no resistance training, and repeated bouts of super low calories, many women are living in a perpetual “muscle wasting” lifestyle. Rejecting the 1200 calorie insanity, and increasing the protein is a great starting point for most ladies seeking fat loss. Protein not only keeps you fuller longer, it helps to keep the metabolism from burning up the proteins in our muscles, thus making our workouts more effective, and allows the muscles to build up instead of break down. Once weight lifting is sprinkled in, it's icing on the cake! (Note: I didn't say anything about getting rid of cake…)
Because many of the diets that we tried in the past helped us to lose weight “fast,” it's honestly tough to NOT lack patience. Thanks to our microwave society, we tend to want alllllllll. the. things. RIGHT. NOW. We can’t understand why men can lose weight so quickly, or why younger women are dropping pounds faster than us. The media knows this, and makes sure to taunt/target/tempt us regularly with quick fixes (and we just keep taking the bait- even when we know better). We want things that happen as fast for us as they did in the past – to have the losses we did when we went on our first diet.
We say we're willing to do “whatever it takes” — but never for “as long as it takes.”
Having patience is about being willing to build/maintain muscle mass and actually stop stressing about it. It means focusing less on weight loss, more on fat loss. It's about finally settling in and doing things right by your body. It's about reaching your goals in a no-nonsense way that does not backfire in the long run: eating enough food, eating enough protein, getting enough fiber, lifting and doing workouts in a way that are built to maintain the muscle mass you already have, and maybe even encourage more muscle growth along the way.
So there you have it. The five biggest reasons why women tend to struggle with fat loss. So remember this on your journey to a better and healthier you. Dieting will lead you down a path of never ending gain/lose cycles, constantly frustrated with the lack of progress. The goal of the Diet Mentality is to make you stop enjoying your life to its fullest. A change in your diet focus, throwing the scale away, and taking the time to build your muscle mass back up while living your life now, will all put you down the path to success. The path just winds along the rose gardens, rather than plows right through them.
It's not your imagination. Women have fat loss struggles that seem to elude their male counterparts. Many of us have been known start to the “hey let's do this diet together” – only to end up frustrated when we plateau and they…don't. Of course this is an oversimplification of gender (not allmen lose fat super easily — but dang it sure feels like it at times!), but men definitely have a few advantages over us.
Over the next two articles, we'll explore five main reasons why women have a harder time than men when it comes to shedding the fat.
Women are often more focused on weight loss over fat loss, which means they pay a lot of attention to the scale. And if you're constantly looking at the scale, that can skew what you think is progress. Men tend to not be focused on the scale when it comes to their weight. Most of the time, men just do one or two simple things and the weight seems to fall off of them (more on that later!) By eliminating the need to see a number on the scale, men do not get as obsessed about a certain “goal number” than women do.
You can lose weight in almost any way. You can lose weight by losing muscle mass, or water, or you can even lose a limb and see the scale drop. If the loss is coming from fat, then it actually keeps your metabolism on track. But if that loss is coming from muscle, it's actually slowing your metabolism down, which is what happens to a lot of people.
Obviously we all want to blame gains on hormones and whine “Women have it so much harder!!” Our hormones are more sensitive to stress than men's hormones may be. So when we add stress into mix, (because let’s face it, we are more prone to stress about things) our hormones actually react in a way that stops us from losing weight. It actually causes us to often gain weight, especially in the belly. Women normally tend to hold onto fat in the belly area, but when under stress this area refuses to let any fat go. (This is referred to as a “Stress Belly”)
Guys may have a hormonal advantage because of their testosterone, but if we keep our stress levels low, we can use estrogen to our advantage, and help trigger the fat loss. Unfortunately, most forms of extreme dieting exacerbate stress – lower calories, higher exercise exertions, constant weigh ins, are all forms of stress which can, in turn make it incredibly hard for women to lose fat, especially in the belly area.
Another HUGE reason for why it's easier for guys to lose weight than women is because of their muscle mass. Women naturally have less muscle. The time our muscle mass is at it's highest is when we are young teenagers. That is, unless we do something about it – unless we choose to actively seek a lifestyle that builds and maintains our muscle mass. We want to see that scale go down because we think the scale is what is going to make us skinny. This typically means that we're not focused on muscle mass.
Just like Melanie, you could be losing fat even when the scale isn't moving!
Muscle equals metabolism, so when we start putting on muscle mass, the scale may not move at all, or even go up. It's mentally tough to put focus on our lovely new muscle gains when that darn scale is going up/staying the same, so this is where we tend to self sabotage. When it comes to muscle, you can actually gain weight AND look better because the increased metabolism will help you burn fat even faster, burning calories at rest. Muscle is what keeps everything toned and tight and compact underneath your skin. Simply losing weight doesn't do that. If you lose muscle you may get smaller, but you get softer looking. (skinny fat)
Releasing the grip that the scale has on you, managing your stress/hormone levels, and focusing on building muscle mass are three major keys to conquering the female fat loss code. In our next post, we'll touch on two other ignored-but-critical factors that play a major role in female fat loss.
Leigh Anne is a long time EM2WL vet who decided to push her limits by entering Strongman competitions. This is a recap of her last event.
I am still reeling from an incredible Strongman competition weekend and I need to share! I competed in the first Strongman at a gym in Charlottesville, VA. There were over 90 competitors, it was over 90 degrees and all but one of the five events were outside.
It was a long day.
I weighed in at 242. My previously steady weight of 237 was definitely boosted by eating super well a couple days prior. I ate well that night and ended up getting some delish local grub at a farmer's market the next morning, along with the most amazing iced coffee I've ever had.
I wore a tank top. I never wear tank tops, but it was HOT! I got two compliments about how “bad ass” I looked in my tank!
I did not have my best showing, but I can identify where I need to improve and where I messed up. I was not confident in my squat and I bottomed out – but I expected to. I was not confident. I skipped a 340-lb. deadlift to try for the 360, when I shouldn't have … but I tried and it moved! The truck pull was deceptively easy from the start and I did not brace myself nor get enough momentum to pull the full 50 feet when I hit the up-hill grind. BUT … I cleaned a 100 lb. axle and never did that before! I loaded a 135 lb. stone to a 54-inch platform when my previous max was 125 to a 48-inch platform. The roar from the gym when I finally got it loaded (it was a struggle, ya'll!) and my coach's wife yelling in my ear to NOT STOP was life. That was amazing.
I cried several times that day. Not because I was upset with how I did, but because I was so proud of those around me. My amazing friend, Autumn, pulled the Mission BBQ truck the entire 50 feet and did not give up. She has been training for less than a year and I am so incredibly proud of her.
Then I met Mary Jacobson. Mary is 62 years young. Mary had gotten dehydrated a couple days prior, blacked out in her apartment, woke up in the hospital, pulled the IV out of her arm and told the staff that she had somewhere to be! (Please, I am not advocating doing this, but the independence, the drive and the determination of this lady was demonstrated here). Mary deadlifted 340 pounds. Mary pulled a 2.5 ton truck. Mary put on an amazing show, shared her knowledge. She was amazing. This lady is a cancer survivor. She was in a coma for two years. She won't let anything stop her.
And I am honored to have met her.
Two days after this competition, I have signed up for my next one. It will be 10 weeks away – the first weekend in October. I plan to cut between now and then … and I have planned my meals to equate a 15% cut for now. A couple of the events at my competition in October are moving events, so I need to incorporate cardio into my training, but I hate the treadmill, elliptical and bike. My plan is to do light farmers, tire flips and truck pulls when possible. I am anxious to see what this cut does … and hoping for the best!!
Share your success, no matter how large or small. You never know who you may inspire to hang on just a bit longer. We love featuring results and journey stories in REAL time, not just before/afters. If you have a victory (scale or not) let us know and allow us to share with the fam, by submitting to success@EM2WL.com
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