Its safe to say my health and fitness journey has been a roller coaster. A lot of ups and downs, highs and lows and a whole lot of lessons learnt as a result. As I’ve spoken about before I suffered from disordered eating for 2 years and am still recovering from the damage done to my physical and emotional health over that time. I also have a perfectionist type A personality, so I tend to easily become obsessed with things, and also went through a stage of extreme over-exercising – more on that later in the post. But I just didn’t know when ‘enough was enough’, I had the tendency to take things too far and turn something that was healthy into something that was extremely unhealthy, and as a result, my progress suffered.
But thankfully, I learnt from all this trial and error and I’ve now found balance in these areas and I can look back and specifically pint point exactly where I was going wrong in my quest for progress. So from my experience, these are the 3 major reasons, I myself and many others I see on social media and in everyday life, are struggling to make progress…
- Not eating enough!
Yes I’ve been here and done it. Under eating and skipping meals does not equal progress! At the worst with my eating disorder I was eating under 1,000 calories some days and my weight wouldn’t budge! But I learnt the hard way, eating less does not result in weighing less.
Skipping meals or eating ridiculously low calories will not lead to progress. Progress and weightloss is far more complicated than simply calories in vs. calories out. Firstly, under-eating will lead to extremely low levels of energy so when training or gym time rolls around, your not going to be able to give your all to get the results your after because your body barely has the energy to stay awake let alone train. I use to barely make it through my 30 minute BBG workouts and even when I did, my energy for the rest of the day was near zero. All I wanted to do was nap.
And secondly, by under-eating and skipping meals for long periods of time you cause your body to go into ‘starvation mode’. When this happens it essentially starts to shut down functions that aren’t considered necessary for survival (for example, for me this is was my reproductive system – lost my period for almost 2 years!) in order to conserve energy for those vital bodily functions. When your body gets to this state and you DO eat, your metabolism will slow down as the body attempts to hold onto any food it is given for as long as possible – because how is it to know if or when it will be fed again?
Therefore, under-eating is not the answer to progress – as you can tell from above, it actually leads to holding onto, if not gaining, weight! So fuel your body with adequate food and nutrients, not only to get through the day, but to train optimally too!
2. You’re over-exercising.
Ever heard the saying “too much of a good thing”? Well that applies here. Contrary to what you might be lead to believe, too much exercise can actually lead to going backwards in terms of progress. See, this is because when the body isn’t given adequate time to rest and recover (aka. those essential rest days you should be planning each week!) it becomes fatigued and under high stress, causing the cortisol hormone to rise. And when the body is under this high level of stress for too long and isn’t given the relief of rest days, the result is it holds onto fat. So you might be thinking by being part of team “No Days Off” your fast-tracking your progress, when in reality, you are really hindering it.
During the prime of my eating disorder, and even up to a couple months ago, I use to never have one day off because that critical voice inside my head would constantly be nagging at me saying I was lazy; I was a failure; and going to gain weight instantly because I didn’t do enough that day. But after a year and a half of that, I hit a major plateau. This was during my post-BBG, F45 membership stage mid 2017 – I going to F45 5-6 times a week, doing at least 3 additional cardio sessions, 2 yoga sessions plus a couple tennis training sessions, all in one week! Even with all that I couldn’t shift my weight one gram and I couldn’t seem to tone up no matter how much I lifted – and they made me lift darn heavy at F45. I don’t ever remember not being sore or feeling fatigued. I didn’t have the energy nor the will to function as a normal human being in my day to day life. Everything was an effort and a struggle. My poor body was just starting to recover from the abuse I caused it through my eating disorder, but than I do this to it.
Over-exercising to the point of absolute exhaustion is definitely not going to give you progress of the results you want. You need to find balance of what your body can handle, and this comes from trial and error and listening to your body. But most importantly, be sure to schedule yourself at least 1 rest day per week where you include some stretching and foam rolling to give your body the best chance to recover and I promise you, you won’t go backwards in progress by doing so. I know it’s scary to do less, but when you are kind to your body, it will be kind back.
3. Not having clear goals.
When I first started out with my health and fitness journey, I wasn’t clear with myself what I wanted. I looked at #fitspo accounts on social media and just told myself I wanted to look like those girls. I wanted to tone up, have abs and lose the fat around my mid-section. Not only were these super superficial goals, but they had no real ‘end’ – how toned up did I want to be and by when? How much fat did I want to lose? When would enough be enough? And that was exactly the problem- because I didn’t have clear goals, I didn’t know when to stop. I took things too far and turned my love of health and fitness into a very unhealthy obsession. Because I wasn’t clear with myself in the beginning, I didn’t know when I HAD achieved my goals or made the progress I originally desired. So I just kept going until I was severely underweight because I didn’t see myself as having made progress yet. All I had for comparison was the girls on my Instagram feed which are totally unrealistic, photo shopped images I couldn’t achieve!
So lesson learnt, you need to have clear goals to measure your progress against. Using the SMART goal setting principles is the best way to do this so you are clear with yourself from the beginning exactly what you want to achieve, by when and how your going to do it. Having these clear goals helps you to measure your progress as you go and keeps you motivated most importantly! For physical progress, progress pictures are a MUST! The scales aren’t the be all and end all, not all progress can be measured numerically, so be sure to take progress pictures along the way so you can truly see how far you’ve come!
So from my experiences, these 3 reasons were stopping me from making and seeing progress within myself and my journey. And I know I’m not the only one who has experienced these struggles. So its so very important to nourish your body with abundance of good, whole foods; give it the rest it needs and deserves and set yourself clear goals so you can feel proud and see how far you’ve come. xxx