The Three Exercise Mistakes Preventing You From Losing Weight

It can be the most frustrating thing in the world. Working out, eating right, yet not losing weight. Most women have been there, especially black women and women over 40. That frustration can lead to giving up on health and wellness goals. These three exercise mistakes may be stalling your weight loss progress. The good news is they are fixable.

Mistake #1: You Subscribe To the Calories In/Calories Out Mantra

We have heard this very simple equation probably since high school. If you want to lose weight you have to take in fewer calories than you burn. Simple, right? Well, yes and no. This is true provided you have a normally functioning body, the way nature intended. That means all of our hormones have to be working right. We have to be healthy, no disease or illness in order for that equation to work 100% of the time. The mistake you’re making here is working out too much or too long. Yep! You know when you don’t eat enough you can throw your body into starvation mode where it holds on to every calorie. You can throw your body into a preservation mode by working out too much. It holds on to every calorie because the increase in activity and intensity level has triggered a survival response. High-Intensity Interval Training, HIIT, routines have been shown to be more effective. These are short routines (15, 30, 45 minutes) with alternating bursts of high-intensity activity. These type of workouts create an afterburn effect that ups your metabolism for several hours afterward.

The fix: focus on raising your heart rate into the fat burning zone for a shorter period of time. 

Mistake #2: You Avoid Building Muscle

I hear this all the time. Women avoid building muscle because they don’t want to be bulky. Ladies, please hear me. You would have to train like a professional body builder to build that much muscle. Women don’t build muscle at the same rate as men. Nature, in her wisdom, wanted women to bare children so she gave us the ability to build fat. The body can only be in muscle-building mode or in fat-burning mode. If you are trying to burn fat, the muscle that develops is only in support of the fat-burning activities. Muscle is what burns calories. You need muscle to burn calories. You need to burn calories to get rid of fat. Lean muscle will develop as a result of using them. You won’t be bulky and it will make you appear more toned. You will also have more stamina, endurance, and energy to make it through the day. But wait, there’s more. Weight-bearing exercises that build muscle are also critical in preventing osteoporosis.

The fix: include weight-bearing exercises in your routine and include as much plant and/or animal-based protein in your diet as possible.

Mistake #3: You Ignore Your Brain

Our brains are fascinating machines. They are also our best ally when it comes to achieving our goals. The brain accounts for a large amount of energy usage per day. It monitors the body and stores a ton of data, yet we ignore it. The brain knows when we’re thirsty, hungry, full, tired, ill, etc. Yes, the brain can play tricks on us. It doesn’t like change. In the beginning stages of adopting a new weight loss program, the brain will actively try to sabotage you. Those little voices saying “I can’t”, “I’m tired”, “I’ll fail” is the brain’s way of trying to get you to stop. The primary job of the brain is to keep us alive. It perceives any radical change as a threat. It can’t distinguish between good and bad change. How can it be our best ally if it’s telling us lies? Because it can also be retrained to tell you positive things.

The fix: change your mindset. Speak about your weight loss as if it already exists. Repeat a mantra during your workouts. Identify negative self-talk triggers and address them. 

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Nile Harris
Nile Harris, the Chief Chick, is a word weaver and dream believer with 20 years of experience in healthcare, finance, and education. This aspiring motivational speaker, TED presenter and LinkedIn Influencer is committed to valuing people, driving healthcare access and innovation, and weaving words that move people to action. Her views are her own.
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