Losing weight and getting in shape takes discipline, hard work, and time. Although, ultimately, what we do or don’t do is most important, many of our actions start with mindsets and ideas we have about exercise, healthy eating, and fitness. Thought processes can be powerful motivators (just ask anyone who has run a marathon!). In many ways, the mind is stronger than any other muscle in the body. Just as thoughts and mindsets can help us accomplish things we never dreamed we’d be able to do and help us through tough workouts at the fitness center, they can also hinder us from seeing the results we’re working for. To make sure what happens between your ears is a help and not a hindrance, avoid these faulty fitness mindsets.
1. Impatience with the process
Medical professionals set a healthy weight loss rate at 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you have many pounds to lose, this can seem like a slow process, especially if the scale doesn’t budget at all for weeks at a time. Besides having patience with your body’s weight loss process, remember that, if you’re working out at the fitness gym, you’re replacing body fat with muscle, which weighs more. In other words, your losses might not be showing up in the numbers because they’re panning out with your muscle gains.
To avoid getting hung up on the numbers, stop weighing yourself for a while (but stick with your plan!). Instead, put more trust in how your clothes are fitting and how toned your body looks in the mirror. Keep it up, and you’ll see the numbers start changing, as well. Persistence and patience are key.
2. Justifying unhealthy eating with “I’ll burn it off”
This is an easy idea to entertain, especially when you’re ravenous after a hard workout. This tends to lead to consuming more calories than we burn off and getting frustrated when we don’t see the results we want.
To get yourself away from this tendency, do the math. Know how many calories you burned, the caloric deficit you need to maintain to reach your weight loss goals, and how many calories you’re eating. The more active you are, the less an occasional treat will hurt your progress, but don’t overestimate your calorie output or underestimate your calorie input.
3. Assuming a strict diet can make up for a lack of activity
“Abs are made in the kitchen,” the saying goes. That’s true in the sense that without losing body fat, you won’t see the abs you have. However, healthy eating alone doesn’t strengthen your core muscles or give them greater definition – working out will.
In fact, restricting your calories too severely slows your metabolism and can lead to burning muscle for fuel along with the fat. Losing muscle slows the metabolism even more, so in the end, it will be even harder for you to lose weight.
Exercise doesn’t just burn calories; it builds muscle, which burns fat. Getting active (even if all you can do is walk) will vastly improve your weight loss results and keep you looking and feeling healthier than trusting in a strict diet alone.
4. Thinking you don’t need rest days
Keeping your eye on the prize is one thing, but be careful you’re not getting tunnel vision and tuning out your body’s needs. It may seem like doing hard workouts 7 days a week will help you reach your goals faster, but it can also lead to burnout, chronic soreness, injuries, exhaustion, sickness, and weight loss plateaus.
Rest gives the body time to recover and adapt to the changes we’re forcing it into, and it’s vital to every workout plan — whether you’re a beginner or seasoned athlete. So, pursue your goals, but don’t stop listening to your body.