Spring Clean Your Health
With springtime comes change. It’s not just about the flowers blooming in your yard or spring cleaning your house, it’s also the time of year many people focus on shedding winter weight and getting ready for the hot summer by slimming down.
If you’re on a mission to lose weight by summertime, make sure you aren’t sabotaging your efforts with one of these common missteps:
You’re eating too many carbs. If you want to slim down, one of first things you should do is reduce your intake of starchy carbs. Avoid white breads and white rice, potatoes, fried foods and processed foods. Aim for more healthy fats like avocados and nuts in small quantities, and increase your intake of fruits and veggies. Squeeze fresh lemons into your water, too.
You do the same thing all the time. Your body gets used to the same exercise if you do it every day, and weight loss can be much more effective when you surprise your body once in a while. Change up your workout and mix it up by increasing the intensity or duration of your exercise. If you really want to blast fat, try some high intensity interval training. Called HIIT training, it involves shorter cardio workouts at a higher intensity. Getting your heart rate up in bursts revs up your metabolism and burns those calories. Oh, and make sure your workouts involve sweating!
You aren’t doing your math. For every pound you want to lose, you need a deficit of 3,500 calories or, to put it another way, you need to burn an extra 3,500 calories. Create the 3,500 deficit with a combination of reduced caloric intake and an increased calorie burn with exercise. Most people have a tendency to overestimate the calories they are burning and underestimate the calories they take in, so do your math! Remember, you can’t lose weight without a combined effort of healthy eating and exercise. You won’t lose weight for the long-term if you only choose one method.
You aren’t on top of your stress. Often overlooked in weight loss, stress can keep you stuck at a certain weight or cause you to gain. If you’re stressed to the max, your body produces a hormone called cortisol, and if not controlled, your body can increase its fat storage. Plus, how often have you turned to a favorite food or snacked endlessly when you’re stressed out? Get ahead of your stress and you can watch the numbers go down on the scale. Take a walk, get some fresh air, meditate, do something fun, read a book, laugh, call up a friend or seek some alone time. Find ways to reduce your stress and commit to doing a few of those things each week. Managing your stress effectively is an essential component of weight loss.
You ignore your muscles. Too often people get psyched that they’re exercising most days of the week—with some type of cardio—and they forget about building and maintaining muscle. The less muscle you have, the lower your metabolism. For weight loss and a strong body you need to do some form of weight training. Don’t be intimidated by the term, it doesn’t mean you have to become a body builder and lift barbells. Grab a set of hand weights and do some of Prevention‘s suggested workouts. Or use your own body weight and do planks, push-ups, squats or lunges—they’re all muscle-building exercises.
With a lack of sleep (less than seven hours a night) your ghrelin level gets off and stimulates your appetite more and your leptin level (responsible for suppressing your appetite) goes down. If you want to lose more fat, get more sleep! Your body will be able to operate at its best!
If you find yourself stuck on a plateau or not losing weight like you want to, put a little spring in your step and make sure you aren’t doing these six things to sabotage your weight loss.