WASHINGTON — Are you trying to lose weight and get in shape? Don’t sabotage your own efforts. Avoid these five hidden weight-loss roadblocks.
1. Living in Pain
Both research and experience show that pain makes losing weight harder than it should be. There are several reasons for this. For starters, pain makes you hungrier and/or less satisfied with what you eat, causing you to eat more. Pain also limits the intensity at which you can work out and thus the results you can get in the gym.
Physical therapist Gray Cook says, “Pain changes everything.” Gray is talking about how your muscles work. When you’re in pain, your body finds ways to move while minimizing pain. This often means not using some muscles. Since muscles are your metabolism, reduced access to them means working out doesn’t work out as well as it should.
2. Shorting Your Sleep
Not sleeping enough can ramp up your appetite and slow down your metabolism. Sleep is important for nearly all of your hormones, including leptin and ghrelin, which help you lose weight and keep it off.
Leptin (when you make enough of it and it functions properly) reduces appetite and speeds up metabolism; ghrelin makes you hungry.
When you miss out on sleep, your leptin levels lower and your ghrelin levels increase. This is a terrible combination for weight loss. If you’re always hungry, six hours of sleep is probably not enough.
3. Movement Quality
Movement is metabolism. The better you move, the better your workouts and results (and safety) will be. I’ve been tracking movement quality scores using a system called The Functional Movement Screen* since 2004. I started using this tool as an objective and quantifiable way to individualize exercises, and I’ve been shocked by the trends over the past decade.
The movement baseline for most people has dropped by almost 50 percent. This doesn’t mean exercise is 50 percent less effective, but it does mean that people’s bodies do not respond the same way they did 10 years ago. However, this can be corrected.
If you’re frustrated or starting back into fitness, getting a movement screen will be one of the most important things you do. The link above has a map to find a certified professional near you.
4. Being out of Touch
“But I’m doing everything right and it’s not working.”
If you’ve even said these words, then it’s time to get back in touch with an old friend: reality.
I know what it’s like to be frustrated, and the good news is that it’s actually impossible to be doing everything right and simultaneously make no progress.
Why is this good news? Because it means it’s not impossible.
When you’re this upset, try getting a more objective perspective on what you are actually doing, just “mostly” or “kinda” doing, and what you forgot to do.
5. Cheating on Your Treats
Nobody is perfect, and no one’s diet can be perfect over a long period of time. We all need some indulgence — a treat here or there. You can make great progress and still have some treats, but not with cheats.
Cheating is when you are on a mission to see how much junk you can cram in your stomach in one “meal.”
Here is a cheat dinner: Devour the bread basket, eat a fried appetizer, have drinks, eat an unhealthy entree, and be sure to finish with a big dessert. The thing is, you can’t actually cheat your body. If you eat it, you’ll wear it.
Enjoy one thing at a meal — have a few glasses of wine, for example — and that’s a treat.
*I have no ownership in the FMS, nor do they compensate me for my endorsement.
Editor’s Note: Josef Brandenburg is a D.C.-area fitness expert with 14 years of experience and co-author of the international best-selling book “Results Fitness.” In 2004, he started The Body You Want personal training program, which specializes in helping you get the body you want in the available time you have. You can also check out his blog, follow him on Twitter, or check out his fitness videos on YouTube.Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.