There are sooooooo many opinions out there.
Some people are die-hard about the way they work out because it’s what’s worked for them. I can understand that.
You know what’s funny, though? A lot of people are die-hard about methods that haven’t worked for them, just because they’ve heard so many times that those methods should work.
They place the blame upon themselves: I must be doing it wrong.
Well, I started questioning that rationale long ago, and decided to do some experiments… on myself.
Now, go into this post knowing that every BODY is different. You may react better or worse to different forms of exercise and diet.
All I can tell you for sure is that this is what has and has not worked for me, personally. Many of my clients have adopted some of these principles as well and they have worked wonders.
Whether it’s for you or not, I’ve proven through self-experimentation that these weight loss tips blow.
Please keep in mind that these myths might be true for you: every BODY is different.
1. You HAVE to Eat Breakfast!
I’m right there with you. I fell into the make-sure-to-eat-as-soon-as-you-wake-up trap for a while. The thing about this is that your body might function just fine without it.
I did a little self-experiment with myself to test this out. I like to use myself as a guinea pig before I recommend anything to anyone else.
For the last few months, I’ve been playing around with skipping breakfast.
The formula usually looks like this:
I’ll eat breakfast if:
I have early morning clients
I need a lot of energy for a tough workout that day
I’m hungry- I don’t like to starve myself, and I don’t think it’s that healthy unless you’re planning on doing intermittent fasting… more on that later.
I’ll skip breakfast if:
I have a light morning of training and can be sure to eat a good lunch around noon
I have a yoga class or workout scheduled first thing in the morning, after which I can eat a good lunch
I’m not hungry
I was worried that my metabolism wouldn’t stay as high, or that I would be crazy hungry by the end of the day (sometimes this was the case). I was surprised by how unaffected I was by skipping my “most important meal of the day.”
I didn’t feel weak in my morning workout. I didn’t gain weight because my metabolism slowed down; in fact, I’ve been steadily losing body fat while maintaining muscle mass for the last few months. There are quite a few other factors that went into this, though. I wouldn’t place all the emphasis on skipping breakfast.
The bottom line: skipping breakfast didn’t cause me to crash, slow down my metabolism or take away from my morning workouts. I did just fine.
If you’re the type who wakes up hungry, this probably isn’t for you. I’m just sayin’ it’s not the end-all-be-all rule you must follow to lose weight.
Don’t get caught up in skipping meals all the time, though. You don’t want to starve yourself- that WILL have a detrimental effect on weight loss (can you say rebound binging?).
If you have a history with disordered eating, this is one area you may want to steer clear of; eat when you’re hungry or even on a schedule if that’s what keeps you nourished throughout the day without the danger of obsession.
2. Kill It in The Gym Every Day
Overtraining is no pretty thing, folks. I’ve been there.
I was working out 6 days a week with intense workouts every day- 4-5 lifts, 2 sprints, 2 longer cardio sessions.
My body started bulking, even though I wasn’t eating a lot (I actually wasn’t eating enough for that amount of work). Though I’m not the hugest fan of the Ms. Olympia look for me, bulk isn’t that worrisome to me; fat gain is.
My body started holding on to every fat cell it could because, well, it thought I was dying. I can tell you now, I felt like I was dying.
I was in a constant state of extreme soreness. I started getting injured. I wasn’t sleeping at night. My face started to break out. Guys, put your earmuffs on for this one: I skipped my period…
My body wasn’t getting any rest, and with the extreme load I was putting on myself, it had no choice but to “build up reserves” (read: gain weight). Yuck.
I can’t tell you how defeating it is to put so much work into achieving something and have it go the other way on you. It sucks.
A lot of people think that the harder they work, the faster the results will come. Well, that’s true in a lot of cases, but for most people who don’t work as fitness models for a living, we have too much stress in our lives to put that amount of stress on our bodies as well without giving them adequate rest.
You start packing in the cortisol when you overdo it. You know what that means? Spare tire, here we come!
If you want to stay fit and healthy, listen to your body. Rest when it needs it.
The recommendation I stick with for most people is 4-5 days of exercise a week. This gives you the freedom to work out when you can, and allows your body time to recover.
If you’re an endorphin junkie like me, you may have a hard time taking days off. It just feels so good!
It really helps me to remember that you don’t get stronger while you work out, your muscles rebuild when you rest. The improvements you want to see in your body and strength come when you give your body a chance to rebuild itself.
If you don’t let yourself rest, your muscles may start to atrophy again, and your body will determine the lack of rest as added stress–> Cortisol, we meet again. It could serve to be detrimental to your efforts.
When I was overtraining, you know what finally helped me ditch the bloat? A full two weeks off. My body was finally able to repair itself in a proper way, allowing my body to let go of the fat it was holding onto (because it thought I was dying, in which case I could use that fat later).
Your body’s a smart cookie. Trust it a little and back off when necessary.
3. Guzzle That Protein Shake, Bro!
I feel like this one’s more of a fess-up for me.
I used to chase every strength workout with a protein shake or protein bar.
Long story short: I couldn’t figure out why my weight was taking so long to go down.
…I got crazy strong, though. :)
If you’ve read The Best of The Worst, you know where I now stand on the fitness supplements. [not a fan]
If you are aiming to lose weight, chances are you don’t need any kind of post-workout protein shake or bar that’s full of additives, sugar (yes, even if it’s natural), and all kinds of things your body might be sensitive to. If anything, eat real food.
Why?! WHY DO SO MANY PEOPLE RELY ON PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS WHEN YOU CAN JUST EAT SOME MEATBALLS?!
If you’re veggie, just ignore that last question. I can understand for you guys.
You aren’t going to magically burn all of that shake off just because you came from a workout. Your body will still store the excess beyond what it needs to refuel your muscles.
If you wanna do weight loss right, I recommend timing your workouts for right before meals. Eat real food. It’s absorbed and used better by your body anyway.
If you can’t schedule your workouts like that, keep your shake light- go for a no-sugar, fast-absorbing (like whey or egg white) protein powder mixed up with water or unsweetened almond milk. Or, come prepared with some hardboiled eggs and a piece of fruit.
4. Eat Cereal, Just Make Sure It’s The “Healthy” Kind
*long deep breath in with nose-bridge pinching*
So I know we love us some cereal.
I could sit down and finish a box of Cap’n Crunch in record time, no doubt. But does that mean that we should?
Even if you’re eating the “healthy” cereal, you may be ingesting a lot of crap you’re not conscious of.
Ask yourself when you’re looking at the nutrition facts in the grocery store (please tell me you do):
Would I eat this ingredient on its own?
I don’t know about you, but ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides aren’t sittin’ in my pantry right now. And that “natural flavor” they use? What part of nature is it from? Do we know? Do they?
I don’t have a lot of trust in big name cereal companies. But enough of my biases, here’s a couple pieces of evidence from my clientele and myself:
I lost 2 pounds after cutting out cereal from my morning routine.
My client started losing weight after hitting a plateau when she cut out cereal. When she added it back in, she plateaued again. Coincidence? I think not.
Instead of chugging a sugar-licious bowl of refined grains and preservatives, aim for something whole that has a plentiful amount of protein. Need some fiber? Throw some veggies in there. Try the lazy-healthy breakfast or consider having lunch for breakfast!
If it’s a time issue, there’s always ways around it (more on this in a week or so). Cereal is not your only choice. What are your other options?
Sure it’s the easy way out, but what if it’s keeping you from the results you’re working so hard in the gym for? Is it worth it?
5. Eat Healthy ALL The Time
Do you follow Nerd Fitness? You should. Steve just posted an awesome article called “Get The **** Over It,” in which he explains that one off-plan meal or day is not enough to destroy weeks of hard work.
Hell, if that was the case, I’d be screwed right about now.
I eat yogurtland, pastries, cookies, and chocolate like it’s nobody’s business…
…10% of the time.
Usually I’ll eat 4-5 times a day, so that means 3-4 meals every week are off-plan. I like to call these “opportunities.” :)
I cherish those opportunities. They are my saving grace. Knowing that I have those meals to forget all my personal trainery nutrition knowledge and let go once and a while, helps me stick to the plan the rest of the time.
I also call this the Stay-Sane Diet. :)
You don’t need to be perfect all the time. In fact, try not to. That way, when imperfection hits, you don’t give up all the stuff you’ve been doing so well!
Don’t let a little slide derail you from all your hard work. You choose whether or not to let it.
As much as I can say these myths don’t work for me and most of my clients, you have to spend the time finding out what works for you.
Some of these tips could actually be your turning point. Who knows? You could be a magical cereal-metabolizer! ;)
Above all, I recommend you experiment on yourself a little to work out the best routine and eating plan for you, personally. That’s what I do with my clients.
Do you have any myth-busters to enlighten us to here? Share them in the comments below!
On a side note, I’m pretty freaking excited with how the 30-Day Challenge is treating me. I haven’t been this lean in a couple years! And I feel better doing it! I’m aware of hunger cues again (instead of eating out of boredom). The cool thing is that the habit is ingraining itself in me now; it’s not a challenge anymore! How’s it treating you? You can check out updates and tell me how it’s going for you over on Facebook!