We all know that it is wise to pick just one specific day and time each week to "weigh in" or track our results. It is common for people to pick Friday mornings because they have been on track with their eating and hitting the gym over the course of the M-F week. Although the scale is most often first choice, I prefer to use an item of clothing, photos, or a tape measure to track my progress.
The following scenario happened to me one Friday morning and I am positive that it has happened to many others at one point or another during their fat loss journey, and when it happens, it sucks….
I roll out of bed and am actually excited that it is Friday and I get to measure the fruits of my labor for the week. I happily grab my tape measure-er thingie eager to see my results so that I can have an awesome Friday thereafter because I know in my head that I have worked hard in the gym, diligently prepped my meals, drank my protein shakes, took my BCAA's etc. I look down to read the number and have to measure again…., and yet again…, and ponder; 'maybe I'm holding the tape differently from last week?',… wait, no, how can this be?… Was that really the number last week?…, let me check again!!! Nope, it's legit! I HAVE NOT LOST ANYTHING!!! <insert Charlie Brown scream here>
So, if I did everything right, why didn't I lose?
Throughout my years of experience, trial, and training, I can now narrow it down to three reasons why fat loss may be slowed that have nothing to do with workouts or food intake.
1.) Not Getting Enough Sleep- If you are not packing in 7-9 hours of sleep at least 5 nights out of the week, then you may be slowing down your fat loss results.
Adequate sleep lowers cortisol. When cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) is in an elevated state, the body does not burn fat efficiently. Additionally, you need sleep in order to recover from those kick ass workouts you have been pushing out at the gym. Your body heals and restores during sleep and sleep creates an optimal hormonal environment for fat loss and muscle building so, be sure to get those zzzzzzzs.
2.) Not Taking In Enough Water- Are you drinking enough for fat loss?
Your kidneys need water to process waste. If they don’t get enough water, the liver will have to kick in and help out to save the day. BUT, the liver is also responsbile for turning your stored fat into energy. If the liver has to kick in to help because the kidneys aren't receiving enough water, you will be taking your liver away from the job of converting fat into energy. It is like being short staffed at a business or company. When someone isnt able to do their job, someone else has to pick up the slack and that someone's primary job responsibilities will suffer as a result. Don't leave you liver short staffed! Give your kidneys the water they need so they can process your waste and not have to get help from the liver.
Also, if you have cut calories and the body senses a change, it may go into protection or storage mode and hold on to fat stores. Drinking enough water will help with this. The body may do this because when our early ancestors encountered a scarcity of food they may have also had a scarcity of water. The body adapts to signals. Assure your body that there is an abundance of water so that it senses that it is ok to let go of fat.
Remember to account for your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a diuretic. If you are in a dehydrated state you can bet that you will feel sluggish during your workout.
So how much water is enough?
Shoot for 1 gallon of water per day. I know, I know, right now, you are thinking; Donna, are you serious? A gallon of water? How am I going to carry that much water around? I might as well take my phone and work into the bathroom and just work from there all day? I will be peeing like a race horse!
Here is my answer for you. Just do it! You will pee more often than normal only on the first day or so but then your body will regulate. Besides, peeing is a good thing. Just think of all the waste and FAT that is leaving your body. Come to think of it, race horses are lean and fast. Is peeing like a race horse a bad thing? Ha ha!
Like any new habit, it seems difficult at first but once you actually get into it, you will find it really isn't that hard at all. You don't have to lug a gallon of water around with you all day. Get a liter sized water bottle and just fill it 3xs so that you have 3 or 4 of them per day. Break it up into smaller parts and it doesn't seem so overwhelming.
Challenge yourself to have the first bottle of water down before lunch and then the second one down before 3pm and then the last one down before 7pm. You can do it! Once you do and you feel the difference you will be sold! You will notice the difference between a workout in a well hydrated state vs. a workout when you are not well hydrated and you will be bummed out when you forget to take in enough water.
3.) Impatience- YOU, my dear, might just be getting in your own way because you are impatient- You are expecting too much too soon. Sorry to bust in on your "I really can get lean quick" dream but, true, lasting fat loss is a S-L-O-W process!!!! (ugh-I know, not what anyone wants to hear) Believe me, I am one of the most impatient people I know. This is a challenge for me and a tough pill to swallow. It really takes time, patience, and persistence. Just consider the possibility that you might have unrealistic expectations and try to get your expectations in check.
…Get ready for one of my favorite quotes of all time…
If it was easy, everyone would do it.-
Write that down and hang it somewhere where you can see it!!
It is hard to embrace the fact that it will take many, many months of hard work. Lasting results are very slow and subtle and are only seen over a significant amount of time. It takes time to build muscle, change your metabolism, and burn up some body fat. You can lose water and muscle weight very quickly, but not fat. The multitude of fitness infomercials and magazine covers of celebs with lean bodies unfortunately translate into our psyche that there is some secret way to attain that ultra lean physique in a short amount of time. It is just not reality and most likely, neither are the images you see in the photos. With the availability of photoshop, no photo is to be trusted so don't buy into any of that stuff.
Sometimes weeks will go by without change and then, you will have a week and results seem to suddenly appear. You have to just hang in there and stay the course. Besides, what is the alternative? Stop working out and stop eating clean?
Go back to your former size and former lifestyle because you were happier then? Do that and you will have certainty. Certainty that fat loss is not in your future.
Stay the course!
Get some sleep, drink your water, and remember; If it was easy, everyone would do it….