Today's article is going to cover weight loss. What I really want to cover is the little known gems of knowledge that can really help you achieve your targets. This is going to be a good read for anyone that is looking to shift some weight, tone up and generally get fitter and healthier this year. It's especially helpful if you've already tried the 'normal' things to do - calorie counting, cardio and stressing about your weight.
1 - Stop stressing about your weight
Stress is one of those things that is good for us in small doses but ravages our bodies when taken in excess. But what is stress? Stress could be physical (workout, injury, tiredness) or mental (anxiety, worry, overwork) and many other things. Basically your body becomes stressed when it's pushed outside of its' comfort zone. This stress can manifest itself on the surface in many ways - see one way in the picture below - the thing that does the most damage without us even realising is what's happening on the inside.
But what does stress do to our bodies? Have a look at this scientific study from Yale University that looks at the impact of stress on abdominal fat.
2 - Drink plenty of water
This is also a 'biggie'. Dehydration will hamper most of your bodily functions (and increase stress too) and generally leads to things not working quite as well. Being dehydrated will hamper your weight loss and I've personally seen people that start drinking more water and the pounds fly off (they were already doing lots of the other key points).
Did you know that being dehydrated can actually make you feel hungry? Your body is looking for sources of water, and plenty of food has water within it!
To increase your water intake I'd suggest buying a small drinks bottle that you can keep with you on your desk at work, on the sofa at home, you name it. Get a metal one if you can (better than plastic) and as a rule of thumb keep it topped up. I find that just having the drink there I consume it more and feel much better as a result.
Having enough water means your metabolism can function properly and your body can get rid of toxins more effectively rather than storing them in your fat cells or allowing them to wreak havoc on your internal organs.
3 - Get better sleep
Sleep is so important for many things in terms of health and fitness. It's been shown to massively impact brain health and function and serves as a time for your body to repair damage that it may have sustained during the day (maybe during a workout). What's more, lack of good quality sleep will spike cortisol levels (remember cortisol from the 'stress' bit) and bring about all the pitfalls associated with that.
How do you know you've had enough sleep? Well, you don't feel tired when you wake up. You don't feel like you need naps throughout the day and you just generally feel better. Personally I know if i get 7 hours of good sleep per night I'm set up for the day (doubtful that will drop off soon with imminent arrival!). Different people need different amounts of sleep though, so play with it and see how you get on.
Struggle to get good quality sleep? Try these:
- don't have caffeine within 6 hours of wanting to sleep
- don't eat for a few hours beforehand
- avoid blue tinged light (computer, phone, tv) in the evening
- expose yourself to red tinged light
- have an effective method to de-stress before bed time (hot bath, listen to music, read a book)
4 - Change your focus
If I had a pound for every time someone told me fat is bad for me and will cause me to get fat I'd be a rich man. The honest truth though is that that advice couldn't be worse! I'm not going to go into detail about why right now but fat won't make you fat.
So what is causing you to put on the pounds or preventing you losing weight you ask? Look no further than sugar. Put simply, sugar will cause your body to store more and more in your fat cells - making you fatter.
After telling people this they usually say they don't eat that much sugar and I believe that they're not lying. I don't expect many people to eat cubes of the stuff...
So my advice on this is to change your focus from avoiding fat to reducing the amount of sugar you ingest. If you cut that sugar down you'll see a difference pretty quickly. An example study to show this can be found here:
So there you have it. Four key points that lots of people are oblivious to that could (and probably are) holding back their weight loss. These aren't the be all and end all, but they are the hidden gems that can give you critical mass to start dropping weight.
Try to integrate them into your lifestyle for a few weeks and feel the difference, see the difference. I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments below if you have any. Success stories are always welcome too!