There’s nothing more frustrating than putting in the work in the gym and eating right only to see that your scale isn’t changing and your jeans fit the same. Even more frustrating is seeing the scale go up and your jeans get tighter despite your diligence with executing on your plan.
Here are three often overlooked mistakes that you may be making that could cause your weight loss results to escape you even when you are actively doing the work.
Rather watch a video than read the rest of this article? Here’s the video below.
Mistake #1: Doing too much cardio.
When we are doing a little bit of something and it works, we sometimes double down in pursuit of even faster results. When it comes to cardio, more isn’t better. More is just more. As a matter of fact, being #TeamTooMuch with your cardio will backfire and lead to worse results in the long run.
Too much cardio will increase your hunger and your cravings making it near impossible to follow through with sensible eating. So instead of ending up with a fierce figure, you end up tired and frustrated in the same (or bigger) body as before.
Mistake #2: Doing cardio exclusively.
You may think that you should start with cardio to lose weight and add weight training to sculpt later but that approach rarely works if you are beyond your 20s or if you have lost and gained weight before.
Here’s how this normally plays out. We cut back on our food and start doing cardio because we feel we need to eat less and move more to lose weight. We lose weight on the scale. We shrink and fit smaller clothes and we feel accomplished. However the problem is that with this approach, we lose both fat AND muscle.
When we lose muscle, our metabolism (the amount of calories our body burns daily) decreases. Now because we burn fewer calories at rest, we need to eat less just to maintain our weight. See a problem yet?
So now we are smaller, feeling worn out from all of the cardio and we are ready to back off a little bit now that it is time to maintain. The problem is we can’t. We literally are stuck doing a ton of cardio just to stay the same because we sacrificed our metabolism in order to lose the weight in the first place.
I don’t want to scare you but I have to tell you the whole story. What happens if you decide NOT to keep up with all of that cardio? You GAIN weight only this time you gain fat (not muscle and fat) so you end up carrying more body fat with a lower metabolism and you get to start the journey all over again.
Mistake #3: Doing the “wrong” intensity.
The bottom line is that your exercise needs to match your goal. If you are working on getting good at exercise then you should be doing a lot of moderate intensity cardio. If you are looking to encourage sustainable weight loss without LIVING in the gym, that is a mismatch approach. Don’t believe me? Just think about the “regulars” on the cardio machines and in the group exercise classes. Did you do it? Did you visualize someone who can KILL it with the cardio but isn’t necessarily at their goal weight? No judgement because that was me for a LONG time.
If your goal is to lose a significant amount of weight and to keep it off then there are two intensities that you want to make the focus of your cardio program- high intensity and low intensity. The high intensity is HARD. You get breathless. You sweat and you can’t last much longer than 10-20 minutes. The low intensity is the equivalent of taking a stroll with your grandma through the mall and you literally cannot do too much of this intensity. The high intensity work creates metabolic disturbance so that your body burns more calories than normal all day (even when you are resting). The low intensity is an easy way to burn calories and reduce stress without triggering your hunger. I wrote two full blogs explaining why this is the case here and here.
So that’s it, those are the three cardio mistakes that you may be making that are making it really really hard to lose weight and if not to lose it initially, definitely making it hard to keep it up for the long term.
What type of cardio do you do most? Is it helping you reach your weight loss goals? Sound off in the comments below.
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