This is the year you promised you’d get the body you deserve. You’ve started exercising and eating cleanly, the two linchpins of any successful weight loss program. You’re seeing plenty of progress, and you’ve still got three months to go before the arrival of summer.
While you deserve congratulations for being on the right track, you should also be aware that even though you have the basics down, there are still obstacles on the path to reaching your goals.
Here are five things you may not have thought of, but that could severely hamper your weight loss efforts.
1. Stress. Not only can stress lead to overeating and poor performance in the gym, but it causes your body releases a hormone called cortisol which makes you store more fat than you normally would. Life isn’t easy and we all face stressors on a daily basis, some of them unavoidable. But most of them are avoidable, and if you want to keep the weight off, you should be vigilant about avoiding them.
2. Lack of sleep. Sleep does more than just give us energy to function the next day. During sleep, our bodies release hormones that help repair the muscle tissue we break down during exercise. When we skimp on sleep, our levels of those hormones fall, and our muscles don’t grow and repair the way they should. With less muscle, less calories go to support that muscle and are stored as fat instead. Studies have also shown that sleep deprived people tend to eat more, and usually not the right foods. Shoot for a bare minimum of seven hours per night, with eight or more being optimal.
3. Simple Carbohydrates. Simple carbs, such as white bread, white rice, and sugar, not only fail to provide sustained energy, but they cause insulin levels to spike and then crash, wreaking havoc with your metabolism. While cutting out carbs completely is a dangerous fad that has hopefully run its course, you still want to get your carbs from quality sources like brown rice and sweet potatoes.
4. Low Intensity Cardio. I know what you’re thinking: how can exercise hinder my weight loss goals? Look at a marathon runner then look at a sprinter. Who appears more lean and fit? While long intervals of low-intensity cardio do burn calories, they also trigger your body to store fat — typically around the midsection — so it can be used for energy during long training sessions when your glycogen levels have been depleted. High intensity interval training, on the other hand, promotes a lean, muscular figure that will turn heads on the beach.
5. Unhealthy People! Remember what your mom told you when you were a kid: You are the company you keep. I’m not advocating kicking to the curb your unhealthy friends who aren’t motivated to make lifestyle changes. But you should be spending plenty of time around others who share your goals. That way you can motivate one another and hold each other accountable. You can also go to a medical center like Chicago HCG where you can surround yourself with people who desire to be healthy and want to lose that excess weight.
There aren’t many things in life that are easier when you go at them alone. Attack your goals with other like-minded people and don’t let those who aren’t on board with this amazing lifestyle change steer you off track.