Courtesy of Isaac Newton, we learn that every action has an equal opposite reaction. But after spending hours working out, you can’t help wondering when the reaction will kick in. Committing to a regular exercise schedule is only the first step toward maintaining your weight. Long-term weight loss is the product of a lifestyle change that includes a nutritious diet, daily physical activity and an accurate perception of your eating habits. Eliminate harmful behaviors that can sabotage your weight-loss efforts to help you achieve the reaction you desire.
Getting daily exercise doesn't mean that you can eat the foods you want without worrying about calories. Weight loss involves a give-and-take relationship between the amount of calories you consume and those you burn. Both overeating and under-eating affect your ability to lose weight by causing the body to store more fat. It is equally important to avoid high-calorie foods that pack on pounds and steer clear of fad diets that eliminate essential food groups. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet and avoid consuming over-sized portions. You can easily underestimate the amount of you food you eat each day, so keep a food diary to get a better sense of where extra calories are coming from.
It’s true that every bit of exercise helps, but a few situps here and there won’t help you reach your weight-loss goals. Short bouts of low-intensity exercise won’t increase your heart rate enough to stimulate significant weight loss. Similarly, performing moderate or intense exercise infrequently won’t offer the daily balance you need to combat excess calories. Aim to complete 60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise daily, engaging in activities that target multiple muscle groups such as brisk walking, running and dancing. Interval training or high-intensity interval training will also ramp up the number of calories you burn. Avoid practices that target one area of the body. Most importantly, focus on varying your activities. If your body adjusts to certain exercises, you can hit a plateau and have trouble shedding pounds.
In your quest to slim down, you may engage in counterproductive behaviors that sabotage your goals. For example, taking cheat days to binge on sweets without working out gives your body an opportunity to store excess fat. For many people, extra pounds come from foods they forget to consider when planning a diet, such as drinks and snacks. Eliminating one soda or sports drink from your diet daily can reduce your intake by 150 calories, according to KidsHealth.org. Pay attention to the drinks and snacks you consume throughout the day, especially when watching television, socializing or experiencing emotional stress. The latte you pick up every day before work might be contributing those few extra pounds you want to lose.
Even with the most carefully planned weight-loss strategy, unexpected factors can prevent you from burning calories. Common deterrents include persistent stress or lack of sleep, both of which can stimulate hormonal imbalances that affect metabolism and fat storage in the body. Being stressed or staying up late every night also increases your attraction to food, for both comfort and to ease the after-hours hunger pains. Medications or health conditions, such as menopause or thyroid diseases, can also cause weight gain. On the other hand, your current weight may be appropriate for your height and body type. Contact your physician if you are working out regularly and eating healthy without achieving weight-loss results. A doctor can help you determine whether you need to lose weight and the best way to proceed.
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: Guide to Behavior Change
- Kids Health: How Can I Lose Weight Safely?
- Arthritis Today: Exercising But Not Losing Weight
- New York Times: Exercise = Weight Loss, Except When It Doesn't
- Redbook: 6 Surprising Reasons You're Not Losing Weight
- ACE Fitness: Interval Training
- ACE Fitness: High-Intensity Interval Training