If you’ve made it this far with your New Year’s resolution of going to the gym every day, give yourself a pat on the back. However, if the scale doesn’t seem to be showing any results, it might mean you’re unintentionally sabotaging your own progress.
We asked two local personal trainers what common mistakes they see gym-goers falling prey to during their weight loss journeys. From over-exercising (yes, it’s possible) to falling into a workout rut, here’s why you’re not losing weight.
1) You’re being an overachiever.
We’re all a little gung-ho the first time we make it to the gym after a long hiatus. But Grant Hill of My Bootcamp cautions, “Exercising too much ends up being counterproductive.” The more you work out, the more cortisol your body produces. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced when the body experiences high-stress conditions—it causes the body to retain water, and thus, weight.
Hill recommends spending just 30 to 45 minutes at the gym, three days a week.
2) You’re overeating.
Being overall healthy and maintaining the ideal weight involves just 20 percent exercise and 80 percent nutrition. But “you can never out-exercise poor nutrition,” says Lance Breger, head trainer at Mint DC. Adds Hill, “Calories in and calories out is oversimplistic.” Just because you’re working out a lot doesn’t mean you can binge on pizza and burgers afterward.
3) Your workout is boring.
Spending an hour on the elliptical every single workout is not very engaging, and it can get old pretty quickly. “You want to shake up your workouts,” Hill says. Do something you actually enjoy, like trying that Zumba class you keep meaning to sign up for.
4) You’re not lifting.
Low-intensity training like lifting weights is just as important as high-intensity exercise. And contrary to popular belief, strength training actually does burn fat, Hill says. Of his own clients, Breger says individuals who spent more time strength-training than logging miles and miles on cardio equipment saw more positive body changes.
5) You’re dehydrated.
We should be drinking half of our body weight in ounces, but most of us are walking around in a state of chronic dehydration, Breger says. Just 2 percent of water loss in our bodies can decrease our athletic performance, so you’re less likely to get the most of your workout the less you drink.
6) You’re not sleeping.
“Sleep is absolutely the most critical part of losing weight, building muscle, and getting rid of injuries,” Breger says. Our bodies repair physically between 10 PM and 2 AM. So if you’re going to bed at midnight, you’re missing 50 percent of ideal body repair. If your body can’t fully recover from your workouts, it’s more difficult to develop muscle mass and burn fat quickly.
7) The glass is half empty.
This should go without saying, but if there are no positive thoughts in your mind, there will be no positive results. Self-deprecating thoughts (“My muffin top is awful! I’m awful!”) are what Breger calls “stinking thinking.” Before taking on a weight loss journey, it’s important to get your mind in the right place.