It’s weigh in day, you have done everything that you know is right this week. You answered emails on the treadmill, took a Zumba class over the weekend, “enjoyed” salads for all three meals of the day. That number on the scale is going down for sure! You dawn your birthday suit, take a deep, excited breath and step on the scale. To your horror, you haven’t lost even a fraction of a pound!
We have all been there, we’ve all followed it up with running the same questions through our minds:
“This is what worked last time!”
“My friend did the exact same thing and lost 5 pounds!”
“Maybe I need to eat less, or do more cardio?”
Now let me blow your mind: What if you (and possibly your friend) are going about losing weight ALL WRONG? I ask this of you because I had it all wrong.
WHY SHOULD YOU INCREASE YOUR METABOLIC RATE?
METABOLIC RATE: the amount of energy that a person needs to keep the body functioning at rest; it accounts for 65-70% of daily caloric burn.
Years ago, when I learned what I should have doing it was SO SIMPLE, I had a hard time believing it was true. It was basically the opposite of everything I knew to be true of weight loss and being “healthy”.
I’m already telling you what you have to lose here, right? The unwanted fat. The real question is, what do you have to gain?:
- More energy
- Better movement patterns (fewer aches and pains)
- Burning more calories while doing less
HOW SHOULD YOU INCREASE YOUR METABOLIC RATE?
DON’T UNDER EAT
There’s always a decent emphasis on not over eating when you want to lose weight, but never that much on under eating. Your body tries to stay one step ahead of you at all times when it comes to supply and demand of energy.
If you feed your body next to no calories, your metabolism will slow down to a crawl to reserve energy. Not only that, it will hold on to fat for dear life to allow for sort of a “battery backup”.
When your goal is to lose weight, shoot for an average daily deficit of 10-20% of your maintenance calories. Anything more than that, for a prolonged period of time, could lead to a major metabolism slow down.
EXAMPLE: Maintenance: 2000 calories Weight Loss: 1600 – 1800 calories
Let’s talk about adding some muscle. We all need muscle to function on a daily basis from picking up your child to getting out of your desk chair.
Also, with a little extra muscle, you could burn more calories at rest throughout the entire day. Where just doing cardio, restricts calorie burning to just that time you’re doing cardio. The idea is to trade fat for muscle, which is not only much smaller and more functional, but requires more calories to exist.
Put your mind at ease: I guarantee you this will not lead to any “bulkiness” or masculinity. Most of the women you may be thinking of with lots of muscle are working out hours a day, every day, for years, with some sort of performance enhancers. The picture of me to the left is me training 10 hours a week for years. Still not “bulky” or manly.
If that 30 minutes at the gym is spent doing resistance training instead of cardio, you could add a reasonable amount of muscle to your body over time. No gym membership? Start off at home with bodyweight movements and then progress to dumbbells or a kettlebell. These tools store away easily under a bed or in a closet, but offer in home training options.
EASE UP ON THE CARDIO
It is true that spending 30 minutes on the elliptical will burn a decent amount of calories…for 30 minutes. As mentioned above, though, after that 30 minutes, you’re done burning calories. Not only that, you are quickly going to become adapted to what you are doing. Meaning, over time, you’ll need perform cardio longer or ramp up the intensity. Talk about diminishing returns on your investment, right?
Now, have you asked yourself WHY you need to do more work to get the same results you got last week? That’s your metabolism responding to the demand you’re putting on it. The signal is, “I need to run longer without my heart exploding”. You’re body slows your heart rate and other systems to accommodate.
WHAT IS NEAT?
While you’re focusing on getting your metabolism into overdrive, what I suggest focusing on is just increasing your normal daily activity. For instance, when you just want to “Netflix and Chill”, consider going for a walk instead. You’re burning extra calories and being more productive. Not a bad habit to get into.
These calories burned refer to your “NEAT.” N.E.A.T. refers to Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Any calories burned doing anything outside of actual exercise. Get a low-cost pedometer or splurge for the Fitbit or Apple Watch so that you can monitor your daily steps. Need suggestions getting those steps in?
- Go for a walk
- Park far away
- Spend 10 minutes before bed cleaning up the house
- Pace when you’re on the phone
Aim for at least 10,000 steps a day and then slowly add another 1,000 a month and see how much more energy you have on a daily basis! I love to go for a walk after dinner to help with digestion and just get moving!
SLEEP IT OFF
It may seem counterintuitive to sleep to get things going faster, but sleep goes a long way to keeping all your systems running optimally. Not only does it keep your metabolic hormones in check, but it also aids in muscle recovery. Shoot for 7-8 hours a night of good quality sleep and you will make tremendous strides to living a more optimal life.
SUMMING IT UP
Are you ready to rethink how you approach your weight loss? Focus on these three big factors to get over that plateau and closer to your goals: