Summer is the season when many women feel motivated to lose excess fat and improve their physique. It's a worthy goal to make for yourself as long as you're doing it in a sustainable, healthy way.
I've been in the health and fitness field for almost 10 years now, and I've worked with countless women to help them reclaim their health and lose weight. The steps required to lose weight aren't actually difficult, but the hard part is the fact that it requires consistency and patience because losing weight takes longer than you might think. We all want a quick fix for any of the challenges presented to us in life, which is why we sometimes take a route that isn't conducive to our goal.
Weight loss is one of those processes that can be tedious and frustrating at times, and that's why women sometimes take the wrong approach. They just want the results, understandably so, and this can cause them to take an approach that doesn't exactly give them the best results. These are the four most common mistakes I see women make when it comes to weight loss.
1. They Undereat or Starve Themselves
It's really common for women to have this mindset: The less you eat, the more weight you'll lose. That's not exactly how it works. This sounds counterintuitive, but women oftentimes need to eat more food in order to lose weight. That's because generally women will perpetually undereat, which leads to a few different things. First of all, it often leads to binge eating. Women will nearly starve themselves during the week and then on the weekends they'll eat thousands of calories in one sitting because they've spent all week feeling unsatisfied and unsatiated. Secondly, undereating causes your metabolism to slow down—if you're not giving it any work to do, why would your metabolism work quickly? Your body is a complex, efficient system that wants to work as little as possible in order to conserve energy, so if you're not giving your metabolism anything to burn, it has no reason to fire up and work hard.
This sounds counterintuitive, but women oftentimes need to eat more food in order to lose weight.
That's why I usually have to get my weight-loss clients to eat more food in the beginning of our work together. You certainly don't need to overeat, but you do need to prioritize protein at every single meal. Take your weight in pounds, multiply it by 0.8, and that's how many grams of protein you need to be eating daily. It probably sounds like a lot at first, which is why you need to get used to eating first thing in the morning and every few hours, which will additionally help regulate your blood sugar.
Ultimately, it's crucial that you eat full meals and give your metabolism fuel. This will help your metabolism work faster, which in turn burns fat and calories faster.
2. They Focus Primarily on Cardio
Women think that coming back from a run sweaty and tired means they've burned a lot of calories. Cardio has incredible benefits, and everyone should do cardio for their heart health, but it shouldn't be the thing you exclusively do for weight loss. Strength training is much more useful because you need more lean muscle in the body in order to burn fat faster and speed up your metabolism. Plus, when you do a strength training session in the morning, you burn more calories while resting throughout the day than you would if you did a cardio session in the morning.
Pick whatever kind of strength training you enjoy and aim for 3-4 sessions a week. You don't have to lift super heavy weights if you're not comfortable with it. Basic resistance training is great, as long as you're building muscle.
3. They Don't Prioritize Sleep and Stress Reduction
When we think about weight loss, we think about exercise and diet. These are certainly important components, but things that are just as important include sleep and stress management. A lack of sleep causes your hunger hormones to significantly increase while the emotional center of your brain (the amygdala) fires up beyond its normal capacity. This is a recipe for the disaster known as emotional overeating. And when you have high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) coursing through you, your body holds onto stubborn fat as if it's in emergency mode.
When you have high levels of cortisol coursing through your body, it holds onto stubborn fat as if it's in emergency mode.
It doesn't matter how much you work out or how much protein you eat, if you're not sleeping well and managing your stress, you won't achieve your weight-loss goals. Treat yourself well, guard your mind, and get plenty of high-quality sleep every night. It will pay off big time in the long run!
4. They Don't Take a Multivitamin
The quality of our food has gone way down over the last century. Produce like spinach, celery, and zucchini have 80-90% less vitamins than they did 100 years ago. So even if you're eating a healthy diet, you may be lacking some important vitamins that are crucial to your body's metabolic functions. I highly recommend all my clients take a daily multivitamin (I recommend this one) to help them get all their vitamins and minerals. You may not think it will make a difference, but when you have good gut health, a strong immune system, and all your micronutrients, you just might reach your weight-loss goals earlier than you think.
Weight loss requires patience, dedication, and grit. Just when you think you can't continue with the process, stick with it and you'll see results! Take it day by day and find an accountability partner that will keep you motivated along the way.