Q: I'm seriously getting discouraged. I've tried EVERYTHING, and it doesn't work. Even the things that you've said. I feel like I've been stuck since the holidays. I originally had my cals set at 1200, I was losing ok until the holidays then I hit a serious plateau after falling off the wagon, w/my holiday eating. I tried to get right back on track in Jan, but the scale wouldn't budge. So I added a bit more cardio to see if that would help. After a couple weeks I got frustrated, and the extra cardio was making me SO hungry. I kept reading about people upping their cals, and since I was starving, and it seemed to make sense, I upped mine to 1400. February, I read your posts about bulking, and figured since I wanted to gain some muscle, and wasn't seeing results w/low cals, I'd just focus on muscle building. So I upped my cals to 2300 and started lifting heavier in addition to my 60 minutes of cardio 5xs a week, which, after a week, I saw you tell someone that that was too much cardio, so I cut back. But I kept lifting heavy like you said. I was hoping to see some good muscle definition, but I just felt like I was getting bigger. After 2-3 weeks I couldn't see any of my muscles, even the ones that I could see before. So I couldn't take it anymore , I had to add the cardio back in, because, I think I need more than most people. Plus I know that you just don't like cardio, so that's your reason for not doing it. I also just really felt like I was eating WAY too much, and had to drop my cals, but I only reduced them to 2000, nothing crazy. I also decided to try out Paleo, because a lot of my friends are seeing success with it, to see if it would help me break my plateau, and with Paleo, I find it harder for me to get in more than 2000 cals. But in March, the weather just started getting so warm, that I dropped my cals to start my cut. I just couldn't take bulking anymore, and I HAVE to get the weight off and start losing weight, I really wanna be able to rock tank tops and shorts this year. So I set my cals at 1600, and switched to higher rep weight workouts, and I read that HIIT cardio is better for weight loss, so I'm doing that now. But now I just saw that low-intensity cardio is actually better for fat burning? I'm just so confused and getting frustrated with it all! NOTHING is working!!
A: Wow! That was a mouthful, girl, lol. I certainly feel your frustration, it can be tough when you're trying to find the key that will make it all click for you. And you certainly have tried it all…
Your body doesn't know whether it's coming or going. Seriously, hun, not to knock your willingness to try new things, tweak here and there to find what works for you, and even listen to me (bonus points for that one)…but, you have to pick a plan and stick with it. Your consistency with any one program is key to finding out if it will work. But trying out 18 different things at once, and not giving any of them enough time, will only keep you in a cloud of confusion…with nothing to show for your efforts, including losing weight.
When you add in too many things at once, you have no idea which thing worked/didn't work. Be wary of changing certain eating and workouts aspects at the same time, if they are both a change to your current routine. Say you're currently doing no cardio, yet lifting weights 3 times a week and you decide that you'd like to see how your body would react to a larger deficit. You elect to lower cals or add in cardio. Pick one. Doing both at the same time, not only brings on a myriad of other issues that I've already written about, but confuses you when/if you see a drop on the scale that week. Which caused the drop? Less food? The cardio? Both?…Or worse, was a drop prevented due to the combo?
Also, consider not doing too many changes with your food at once. A few examples would be:
- raising/lowering cals,
- eliminating entire food groups (meat/dairy/grains),
- changing macros considerably (low carb, low fat),
If you did them all at the same time, how will you have any idea which is working/not working? Suppose you only needed to change one of those things, but…because you start seeing results, you have to keep them all changed, because no one thing was pinpointed. So, now you put yourself in the position to either have started something that you can't finish– setting yourself up for failure because it's just too hard– or resign yourself to living a life of unnecessary deprivation.I know that it's hard because there is just SO much info out there, and we're constantly inundated with what others are doing that's “working” for them, but that doesn't change the basic tenant of fat loss. Consistency. There will always be a plethora of methods, techniques, and waves of thought that will pique your interest, but that does not mean that you throw all caution to the wind and jump on every bandwagon that comes your way…especially all at once. Yes, you should be willing and prepared to change your current regimen if it's not working. Yes, you should be willing to listen with an open mind when someone presents an aspect of health/weight loss/training that is completely different from what you've been doing (especially when it is backed by sound research). Yes, your regimen should be ever changing, like the seasons of the year. Long enough to enjoy, yet ending just as you've become acclimated, with the promise of return in it's due time.
It should not be like a celebrity marriage, ending before it even begins. Doomed from the start because there are way too many outside forces involved, with the “newest” thing just awaiting the opportunity to catch your eye and lead you astray.
We all need to take the time to become in-tuned with our bodies and understand what action leads to what result. This ONLY comes from taking time with each individual change to understand the bodies reaction to it, see if it leads in the desired direction. Yet at the same time realizing that quick fixes will NOT last forever. So, when you hear something that sounds interesting, and you'd like to give it a try, take a moment and evaluate:
- How long have I been doing what I'm currently doing?
- Is what I'm currently doing working?
- How does this “new” thing differ from my “current” thing?
- How long is it taking other people to receive results using this new method? (max and minimum amount of time) And what are those results?
- How much time am I willing to dedicate to this method?
- What changes, relative to my weight/height/body composition/bodyfat % am I hoping to see?
- How will I feel if I put in 4-6 weeks with this method and receive/not receive the results that I want? (Remembering that some changes require longer commitments than others)
- If I find that this plan/method/idea works, for me/I'd like to give it longer than 4-6 weeks, how will I incorporate it in with other things that I've found to “work” for a fully comprehensive, personalized to me program?
Allowing yourself the time and thought process such as this, will not only help to steer you from the “lose 10 lbs in 10 days” nonsense mentality promoted by mass media, but will help you to be more prepared for adapting your regimen to different methods that you find yourself wanting to try. Giving yourself guidelines ahead of time, will also aid in keeping you committed and calm with your new changes, instead of second guessing yourself within a week, running to a new “tweak” or compounding on the current one. It will also help you to evaluate, how/if to incorporate it in with other changes that you've found that work. You may find many things that “work” along the way, but is not necessary to try/attempt them all (especially all at once). It is also, of the utmost importance, to always have the elusive “trump card.” In the dieting industry, these are known as “stubborn fat loss” methods. Don't dive into these too soon in your journey, as “stubborn” means that you should already be fairly lean (as in visible abs), and are trying to get the last vanity pounds to move (as in competition or photoshoot lean). These techniques are NOT for the general fat loss community with lots of fat to lose.
In the game of fat loss, you NEVER want to throw all your cards on the table, from the jump.
Keep things fresh, always have a plan, but…always have another trick up your sleeve.