Many women lament over having a ‘harder time than other women’ when it comes to losing weight. Part of this is due to the media constantly harping on the 2 pounds per week ‘goal’. This article points out that even the best efforts of women will only yield 1/2 to 1 1/2 pounds of BODY FAT loss per week.
So if you’re ‘only’ losing an average of 4 pounds per month, you’re doing great. Keep this up, and you’ll get to your goal.
This post also talks about how ‘cheat meals’, and a ‘chip here or there’ can totally derail a plan…
The first place I always look when someone is having an issue with losing fat is their nutrition. You mentioned cutting back on calories, etc, but my question for you is this … when you eat “BFL-style”, what does that mean, exactly? Are you eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and whole foods? Are you eating the exact same meals each day, or are you incorporating variety? Are you making sure to have a carb portion before bed? Are you taking a free day?
Believe it or not, for some people, the free day in and of itself can be the single most limiting factor. Some people thrive on free day and plunge towards their goals, others must eliminate it. Let’s face it. There is no “free meal.” Calories do count. And for a woman, especially so. Most women can only lose about 0.5 – 1.5 pounds of fat per week. At the low end, that is a net equivalent of 1,700 calories deficit. Keep in mind that one free day can accumulate close to 10,000 calories and totally negate that! So that is one place I would look as well.
The fact is, there is no magic formula or combination for fat loss – regardless of BFL, BodyRx, McDougall’s, vegetarian, raw food, whatever, the same law applies – to lose fat, you need to take in less calories than you burn. So the problem must be tackled on two sides, one with nutrition, the other with training. Don’t get too caught up in the calorie “count” for nutrition, because different foods have different effects. You can get away with more grams of protein than carbohydrate because it takes more energy for the body to process protein. You can get away with more omega-3 fatty acids than other types of fat because they stimulate metabolism. The list goes on and on.
If you are already eating a balanced, healthy diet, then the next thing to look at is training. One huge issue with people is simply intensity. For example, I know a lot of women who don’t train intensely with weights because they are afraid of gaining too much muscle. If you fall into this category, RUN FROM IT AS FAST AS POSSIBLE! If gaining muscle were easy, there would be more female bodybuilding competitors. The fact of the matter is, building muscle is HARD work and you are not going to gain pounds and pounds of muscle over night. So if you aren’t training intensely, weight training is one of the KEYS – you must train INTENSELY and really push those 10s to not only burn more calories during the session, but also to keep your metabolism elevated afterwards to burn more fat.
As for adding the extra cardio, sure, it can help. Heck, I’m up to 65 minutes of cardio per day in addition to my 3 weight training workouts. But I am keeping it balanced. I do 3 20-minute high intensity sessions, and the rest is simply uphill walking. The goal is to burn more calories, but not to burn myself out. If you suddenly add intense sessions or too much volume of jogging, you are risking injury and burnout. In fact, your body is so adept at adapting to new training, your best bet is to ramp it. Is your current load not working for you? Add a 20 minute session. Stick with it. Then wait a week or two, and add another 10 minute session .. like that. Ramp it up, don’t jump into the extra cardio all at once.
There’s really, from my experience, two approaches to weight loss. If you are eating a truly disciplined, clean nutrition plan and not taking cheat meals etc (and by disciplined, I mean ALL WHOLE FOODS – this means whole grains, whole beans, nothing in a package, nothing processed like bread, etc) then you probably could concern yourself less with calories and more with quality of exercise. If, on the other hand, you are taking cheat meals or eating processed foods (look at my diary – I eat packaged burritos, corn chips, etc, so I fall into the latter category) then sometimes it is critical to get a handle on your portions.
I can’t tell you how many people I know think they’re doing fine, but as I alluded to before, their fist or palm gets bigger when they’re more hungry. Or they snack on one bite of a cookie because surely one bite won’t hurt (but then you add that one chip that won’t hurt and that one pretzel that doesn’t hurt and suddenly you’re taking in another 200 calories a day or 1400 per week!). Or they find the most convenient meal possible – say, cottage cheese and yogurt and chicken breast in a pita pocket, and then they eat that exact same meal each day. This in itself can wreak havoc. I know … I’m eating fairly static from day to day, and therefore I must increase my cardio each week to make up for the deficit. When I’m eating more variety, lo and behold, my metabolism increases.
It’s an individual game but the bottom line is that no one is special. I know that [it was] mentioned being “doomed to be fat.” You can certainly be doomed, but it is you who are dooming yourself, not genetics. If your family is struggling with weight management, then that is a very strong answer for you – it’s something psychological embedded in your brain. Unless you are a lottery winner, only 1 in millions of people actually have a genetic inability to effectively lose fat. The rest are accosted by a myriad of complications ranging from the availability of food, the levels of processed food in our typical diets, to the psychological issues that we associate food with happiness and think every social event should be marked by a “reward” of unhealthy food. I see the journals of progressive tiredness, frustration, etc, and it tells a tale – you are exhausted, you are struggling, you are tired of being trapped, and your faith in the process is faltering. Make no mistake, it is tough and this is the key to successful weight management, but you MUST have faith. It IS in your mind … it is the psychological aspect working against you. The only solution is to FORCE A RESOLUTION and find that right combination of understanding and self motivation to DECIDE you will make the change and follow it through.
See, it is easy to get frustrated at lack of progress and then slip. I know, I struggled for 9 months before I finally made the decision that I would do 12 weeks WITHOUT SLIPPING. I had to do those intial challenges because no one is perfect … we focus on progress. But for me, to progress required cleaning it up. It meant absolutely refusing to give in until free day, and then listening to my body on free day. It meant no longer stuffing myself until I couldn’t walk and going out in search of unauthorized foods, but rather eating things I was tempted by – ice cream, etc – but in moderation and without overeating. It meant giving up alcohol for the entire 12 weeks. It meant deciding that health was more important than the temporary gratification of food, that when I went to a barbeque I wouldn’t talk myself into cheating because “well, I’ve got to LIVE” because I changed my definition of living from beer and ribs to being healthy. It takes a lot, but you can do it, you’ve just got to KEEP TRYING until the time is right and it clicks, and the change WILL come.
Hope that helps. I went off on a tangent, but bottom line … yes, extra cardio is sometimes warranted, but it depends on your situation and many times it is the nutrition, not the exercise, that needs to be set under control.