Every once in a while I meet someone struggling to get ripped, lose 10lbs or get rid of flab in [Insert desired body part here] despite hours at the gym. Internally, I sigh and think ‘ok, here we go…’ because 9 times out of 10 self sabotage is the ultimate reason they’re not getting the results they want.
Here are the top 5 ways to commit self sabotage:
You program hop too much, too often
Imagine this little scenario: You pull a sweet routine from a magazine and work on it for three weeks. Then, you see a YouTube video about hip thrusters and learn it’s the BEST exercise for your butt (it is) and decide to add that to every workout. A week later you’re so over the sore booty thing that you decide to try Barre classes for a month instead. You’re playing the fitness field like Tucker Max played the babes, and it’s killing your results in the gym.
Because to get real results you have to stick to one program! I’m not talking about a lifetime commitment here. I’m talking about 6 to 12 weeks in which you progress your exercises, load, intensity, etc. By following a single program you can gauge what is or isn’t working and assess what needs to change. Perhaps after 4 weeks you realize your weights are too light or the intensity too low, so you switch up the variables, not the workout program, and reassess again after a few weeks.
You use exercise as a free pass to eat horribly
Crap nutrition leads to crap results and it’s the number 1 way to sabotage yourself. Do not deceive yourself! Exercise is not a get-out-of-jail free calorie card for yesterday’s junk food raid. Further, avoid rewarding yourself with food every time your workout or do well for a few days on whatever diet or program you’re on. You are not a dog and food is not a treat. If you want to reward yourself (which you should!) do it by buying yourself a new pair of sneakers, getting your nails done, or doing something fun with your friends. These are more meaningful rewards than food. Instead, focus on balancing your meals with lots of colorful veggies, protein and drinking plenty of water. Real food rewards you with a sleek physique when combined with a solid training program, and if you treat food as fuel in conjunction with your workouts, you will reach your weight loss goal a lot sooner than with a drive by to Extraordinary Desserts after Spinning class.
You do too much cardio
Let’s get something straight. Cardio is not the enemy to weight loss. There’s been a lot of debate about cardio and quite frankly, if you enjoy it, do it. However, if your goal is weight loss or even strength, research shows that hours of cardio will set you backwards.
Cardio works for fat loss in the beginning but our bodies are so damn good at adapting to these stressful situations – and cardio is a stress – that pretty soon your body has adapted and that 3 mile run just doesn’t cut it. So then you add another mile, and another, and another…
When do you stop? Fitness and health superstar Adam Bornstein wrote this amazing article about why running is not helping us lose weight. It’s so profound and yet, so logical. He explains it so well that I’ll let his article do the talking there.
The main point is: You cannot rely on long bouts of cardio to lose weight. You just can’t. Instead you should focus on lifting weights and adding some intensity to those cardio sessions if you plan on doing them.
Speak of the devil, this brings me to my next point!
Your workouts lack intensity
A good indication of intensity is sweat and heavy breathing. To see results you need to kick up the intensity in your workouts and ditch the texting, chit chatting and catching up on episodes of The Bachelor during your workout. Intensity is crucial to weight loss and it can be accomplished with sets of prowler pushes, sled drags, kettlebell swings, sprints or twerking. (I made that last one up. Sorry Miley!)
My soul literally dies whenever I see people treat their workout like a casual beach stroll. A stroll is for the soul. Intensity is for weight loss. Feel and practice the difference.
You’re stressed the eff out
Stress is the ultimate weight loss nightmare in my book and it can bring your weight loss hopes and dreams to a screeching halt if you don’t manage yourself. Our body’s physical response to stress is meant to help us in a dangerous situation. It gets our adrenaline going, our breathing quickens, blood pressure rises and I’m almost positive that there is scientific evidence that shows stress turns us into evil monsters.
Either way, our adrenal glands can’t tell the difference between physical or emotional stress. It doesn’t care if you’re being chased by a bear or fighting with your boyfriend – the physical response is the same. Regarding weight loss, stress produces too much cortisol, which slows down your metabolism. It increases your cravings for everything but a salad, and it also forces the body to store more abdominal fat.
I learned this when I made the cross country move to San Diego three years ago with no job, no friends and no practical belongings to speak of (I fit everything I could into 4 suitcases. Survival of the stylish, I always say). No matter how much I worked out (I was lifting weights and training for a half-marathon) I still had an unusual amount of belly fat. It drove me mad until a fellow trainer explained how stress was the culprit. The stress of not knowing when I’d have a job or if I had enough money for groceries was making me fat! And let me tell you something…there’s no worse feeling than starving because you’re broke and still gaining excess fat. The worst.
Bottom line: Get your stress under control. Meditation is by far the best stress-reliever for me but it’s not the only way. Yoga, a nice jog, taking a spa day – whatever helps to soothe your stress will help you meet your weight loss goal.
As a former victim of self-sabotage, I know a thing or two about how to NOT get the results you want in the weight room. I also know how crappy this sabotage is to our emotional and physical well being. We start to tell ourselves we’re lazy, that we’re failures, and start to give up hope on our goal. But this doesn’t have to be you! You deserve to feel VIBRANT! Avoid these pitfalls and you’ll be well on your way.