5 Common Fitness Mistakes
We all make mistakes from time to time, that’s human nature. Hopefully we learn from them. When we don’t these can turn in to bad habits that take you off course with your health and fitness goals. Here are 5 mistakes you could be making on a daily basis that are holding you back more than you realise:
Mistake #1 – Calling it “Losing Weight”
I think this is the number one mistake anyone makes when trying to shed some kilo’s or tone up. Generalising their goal as “losing weight”.
The problem with this is that it causes you to lose sight of what you’re actually trying to achieve. Its become a massive buzz term used in the fitness industry. What you have to realise is that not all weight is bad weight. Water is good weight. Muscle is good weight. Bone is good weight…
You’d think that goes without saying right? Wrong.
Look, its not your fault that you call it “weight loss”. You’ve been conditioned to think it through years of TV, Magazines and diet product marketing. The Biggest Loser contestants are always on a “Weight Loss Journey”. In my opinion it sets you up for failure, giving you the impression that its all about the number on the scales. What about calling it a “Health and Fitness Journey”? Probably not as marketable… But arguably more important than a number on a set of scales.
Maybe its better to show, rather than tell.
You can “Lose Weight” in so many ways:
– losing water weight from bodily functions (sweat, urination, breathing)
– losing muscle glycogen through fasting (generally speaking, used as fuel for muscles and depletes over sustained periods of caloric deficiency)
– not drinking enough water in general
– actually losing some body fat
– muscle break down (definitely not what you want happening)
How do you know when you get on the scales what accounts for any fluctuation since last time?
Get it right and call it what it is – Fat Loss.
Get someone to measure your body fat percentage at regular intervals and track your progress that way. The following people can be of assistance with that:
– Your doctor
– Personal Trainer (if they don’t know how, get a new one)
– Dietician or Nutritionist (if they’re not measuring your body fat or progress for the love of god, please see someone else!)
– A friend or your partner (even if its just measuring girths)
If you get stuck and don’t know anyone or can’t find anyone to do it just buy a set of scales that do it. They’re more expensive then regular scales, but are also somewhat more accurate. Remember to take your shoes and socks off when doing this – the scale sends a pulse up through your feet to measure resistance.
To get an ultimately accurate check up on this you can also get a DEXA scan. These not only give you the most accurate percentage but they also show you where you store your fat. This is especially handy for progress tracking because you can see the difference in particular areas.
Which bring me to my next point…
Mistake #2 – Focusing on One Area
“My stomach isn’t getting any smaller” “Why can’t I see my abs yet?”
This one’s a really big mistake many people make and it’s so easy to do. You always look at one area, for example, your stomach, in an attempt to measure your goal.
What you inadvertently do is end up obsessing about it. You look every day and see no change. You deviate from your plans just to try and make a small piece of progress on this one area.
This ends up slowing your overall progress and eventually you lose sight of your original goal, not because you’re not trying, but because you’ve gone down a completely wrong path and focused on just one area.
Keep reminding yourself of your goal. Remember that everyone is different and everyone’s body works in different ways. Whether your goal is getting rid of flabby arms, a gut or shaping a specific body part. If you focus on it all the time you’re not going to change it as much as if you stick to a routine that works for you and doesn’t sacrifice the rest of you to change 1 area.
Most people will find that fat is lost from anywhere but the stomach and hips first, but it really depends where you store your fat. This is where the solution in the above point comes in to play in regards to tracking your progression using DEXA scans and overall body fat percentages.
You also need to remember there is no such thing as “Targeted Weight Loss”. This is absolute crap. You can’t force or choose where in your body you will lose weight from or at what time. Don’t fall for it.
Mistake #3 – Checking the Scales Daily
This might seem like a great way to track your progress, but its really pointless. As a general rule, you’re lightest in the morning before breakfast and after your morning pee.
When you exercise on Monday you’re going to be missing a little water weight in the morning on Tuesday. This is because your metabolism is sped up after training and as a result more energy is used in your body and you will sweat and breathe out the rest. So when you jump on the scales you could be anywhere from 100g (what most scales will read as their minimum) to 3kg lighter depending on how dehydrated you are.
Try this instead: Weigh yourself 3 days in a row, add the results together and divide it by 3. This will give you the average weight over the last 3 days which will take in to account your daily fluctuations.
Check your progress at set intervals. Try every 4 weeks to get a good idea of progress. Don’t cheat and drink less water to get a better reading. When you do that you slow down your metabolism and give yourself false data.
Mistake #4 – Sugar
Sugar is in everything. It’s a (sweet) sad fact of life at the moment. As a consequence you’re probably taking in more than you need even though you think you’re fine.
When you eat sugar your body can only process a certain amount of it before your liver starts converting it to fatty acids. These are then released into your blood stream and deposited for later use as energy in your body’s fat stores (gut, hips, thighs, back, chest etc..). The same happens with all food, but this is where the glycemic index of it comes in to play, as sugar is rapidly broken down as opposed to sugar which is bound to fiber in foods.
Everyone’s liver will be able to process a different amount of sugar before it’s “full” and this process starts, but generally speaking, if you’re having foods or snacks that have sugar in them the chances are its already too much for your liver to process at once. Carbohydrates are broken down into simpler forms and converted into glucose through the same process to be used as energy – Your body isn’t designed to handle the amount that many people will typically shovel down on a daily basis.
While a few other factors come in to the equation such as glycemic load of the meal as a whole, it really boils down to the fact that when you take in sugary foods, they’re also typically higher in calories with less nutrients in them. This means they’re quickly processed and you’re hungry again or keep eating the same thing in higher quantities. Before you know it you’ve eaten 2 doughnuts and 2 chocolate bars before heading for a peanut butter sandwich, which is a whole lot of calories and not a lot of nutrition.
As a double-whammy, when you take in sugar or simple carbohydrates the body raises insulin levels. This in turn effectively switches off any current fat burning going on in an effort to deal with the sugar that has just been taken in.
To give you a guide, the World Health Organisation recommends approximately 6 teaspoons per day. That’s 24g per day – in total. That’s not “added sugar”, that’s everything you put in your mouth.
This one is obvious, but so very hard when you have a sweet tooth. Go sugar free. Its very hard to do, but quite often the best way is to do it by reducing your intake initially, cutting out some things that you know aren’t doing you any good and then progressing from there. Ultimately you need to learn balance, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
If you can’t bear to not have anything sweet then look for things that are sweetened with stevia or artificially sweetened (They’re fine I promise). Read the ingredients. Some things say they are sugar free, but they use maple syrup or another natural source of sweetness which actually works in the same way as sugar when it hits your liver.
A quick note on fruit as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all saying not to have fruit, just be aware of how you’re having it. There is a massive difference between eating fruit and drinking fruit juice. Always eat the fruit, don’t fall for fruit juice. Its all the sugar with none of the fiber.
Mistake #5 – Measuring Yourself Against Other Peoples Success
“Whoa, he has huge arms! Why don’t mine look like that?” “She’s so skinny, how could I ever look like that?”
This goes through everyone’s head at some stage. Call it jealousy, envy or self doubt…whatever, don’t despair, it’s normal. What you need to take note of is how often it goes through your head. If you notice you’re constantly looking at others and longing to look like they do or have something they do you really need a reality check.
Doing this you allow yourself to stall on your goals and instead of achieving personal bests, making a conscious effort to succeed and improve, what you’ll end up doing is loathing yourself and despairing because you don’t have what they do and you haven’t reached your goal yet.
Shelve that train of thought. Its OK to admire someone else for their achievements. Its not OK to allow their achievement to overshadow your own goals.
Learn to use these moments as inspiration to keep going. If they can achieve, so can you. The only thing stopping you is YOU!
Sometimes you have to get out of your own head and clear your thoughts. Go for a walk, get outside and away from the ordinary day to day routine for a little while. You can even try a guided meditation (there’s plenty on youtube) or switch up your routine a little. Some of it could even be surrounding yourself with people who put you down all the time.
Shit, it might even help to go and talk to that person and find out what they’ve done to achieve their results instead of letting it get to you. This will help you realise that they’re just a person too. Just the same as you, they have goals and probably do the same to others, maybe even you.