Health Consultation Confirmation – Weight Loss

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The video below will outline the most common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight and exactly how to overcome them. 

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How To Avoid The 5 Most Common Weight Loss Mistakes


One of the ironies of how I help people lose weight is that they often achieve their goal by eating more with less physical effort, which means this methodology is going to be perfect for anyone who has come from a background or an understanding that weight loss is all about restrictive dieting.


It will also be a game changer for anyone who has a relationship with exercise and weight loss that could be described as ‘all or nothing'.


I’m going to outline a methodology that will establish a different way to live. My method  is going to be perfect for anybody who identifies with one of the next three statements:


1. For me, weight loss has been a series of restrictive diets. Low calories, carbohydrate depletion, exhaustion and fatigue.

2. Trying to lose weight is either all or nothing, it either takes over my life, or I’m not making any progress with it at all

3. I’m already stressed, tired and have little time, there is no way I can handle another restrictive diet right now. Please show me another way!


Over the course of my career as a personal trainer, I have noticed that there are five major mistakes that people make in the pursuit of weight loss, and I have been able to successfully find a solution to each.


Mistake #1: An Unsustainable Approach


One of the biggest mistakes, perhaps the biggest mistake that all but seals your fate before beginning, is to begin your weight loss pursuit with a completely unmaintainable approach. Sometimes the unsustainable approach is born of good intentions in the knowledge of the 'calories in vs calories out' formula.


This formula is indeed mathematically correct; if you don't exercise enough and simultaneously eat too much, you will gain weight, so weight loss is the process of reversing that. The problem with that formula is that it lends itself to human nature and it’s vulnerabilities. People tend to say, "okay, well, if a deficit is good, then a large deficit must be better, and if some exercise is good, then as much exercise as I could possibly do must be better".


Unfortunately, this tends to take a person to extremes and, before long, becomes a race to the bottom, eventually reaching a caloric intake at which fuelling your activity just can't be sustained. This puts you on a very short time frame before you completely burn out and the weight loss pursuit reaches an unsuccessful end.


You see the nuance in every single fitness goal is usually the element that will allow you to be successful. All too often there are very simplistic ways to explain things in a social media post or in a quotable for a magazine, but when you actually see it play out in the field, nuance counts.

You have to live in a way that's sustainable, otherwise anything that you lose on the scale through restriction isn't really lost - it doesn't really count because you can't maintain it.


Not only that, to labour the point a little bit, you might think that even if you were going to approach things in a restrictive way, that being on such a low calorie intake virtually guarantees that you're going to lose weight. This isn't true because what tends to happen is that, with such a low calorie intake and if you haven't been through the years and years of training and meal planning and things of that nature, sometimes what you set out to do doesn't always play out as intended. This is because there are always other factors in play such as stress, tiredness, emotions, logistics, and all of these things can play a role in you actually getting across the line on any given plan or executing any given plan. What tends to happen when you start out with such a low calorie intake and then life gets in the way is that you reach a certain part of an evening with no more calories in the allowance left, starving hungry then you tend to reach for food anyway which takes you over your intended intake. What's worse is that its usually the wrong type of food you go for.



The irony here is that the solution is the same as the problem: the way to achieve a weight loss goal is indeed a caloric deficit, but the nuance is that it needs to be a maintainable one. This way the deficit isn't deleterious to your energy levels, doesn't stop you working, doesn't put you in a terrible mood the whole time, and doesn't act on you in such a restraining restrictive manner. My advice is to never go further than a 30% caloric deficit.



Mistake #2: Eating The Wrong Foods For Weight Loss


The next biggest mistake I see people make in the pursuit of a weight loss goal is eating the wrong types of foods. It’s quite common when you're pursuing a low calorie intake to accept a little bit of a compromise on the kind of foods that are coming in, and that's really unfortunate because that doesn't only impact your weight loss attempts, it actually has an impact on your health overall.


So there are three main types of foods or macronutrients. These are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. You probably have heard of all of them before, but going into how they interrelate to one another and the role they will play in weight loss maybe isn't as easily understood.


Protein can be thought of as the building blocks for muscle. if you're not getting an adequate amount of protein into your diet, then you're compromising your muscle mass and your ability to recover from exercise. It’s important not to loose muscle mass because it's very important in later life for avoiding certain health ailments. It also takes calories to maintain muscle mass which means that if you lose muscle, your break even point for caloric intake gets lower.


The next macronutrient to discuss is carbohydrates. In conventional weight loss methodology or wisdom, the lower the carbohydrate intake, the better. There is some utility in that because a low carbohydrate intake is going to help us use stored body fat for fuel, but again, it's nuanced; a diet completely devoid of carbohydrates is, on a long enough timeline, going to drain you, and possibly even compromise your existing muscle mass.


It’s important to know that not all carbohydrates are equal. There's a glycaemic index scale of zero to 100. The higher the number, the faster a carbohydrate is introduced as sugar into your bloodstream, which can lead to fat accumulation. So aim to keep the glycaemic index of your chosen carbohydrates as low as you can as consistently as possible.


The final macronutrient to consider is dietary fat. The most important thing to note about dietary fat is that there is no direct correlation between eating dietary fat and gaining bodily fat. Obviously, you could eat a whole bunch of it and put on fat just by sheer caloric intake, but the truth is that bodily fat is going to be coming from making the wrong lifestyle choices from a dietary perspective. Basically it's going to be coming from eating the wrong types of carbohydrate in the wrong quantity at the wrong time, with the wrong lifestyle.


To the contrary, dietary fat is very important for maintaining your health, contributing to things like skin health, hair health, energy production and hormone regulation. Therefore it would be a mistake to avoid dietary fat thinking it's going to have a negative effect on your weight.


The best way to put these macronutrients together to achieve weight loss is to consume them as part of a very balanced portfolio or profile. Typically you might consider aiming for approximately 25-35% as a percentage coming from protein, then 30% to 40% coming in from carbohydrate and the remaining 30% to 40% by way of dietary fat.


Mistake #3: The Wrong Workouts


The next most common mistake I see people make with their weight loss goals is investing time and effort into the wrong workouts. It's quite easy to see why the wrongs workouts are chosen people many people build their training program based on the 'calories in versus calories out' equation.


This means it’s vulnerable, again, to human nature, i.e. "If I need a calorie deficit and I need to do exercise, why not just choose the workouts that simply burn the most amount of calories?" Whilst that may be logical, it's missing the point because its devoid of the nuance and  intricacies of the true purpose behind certain workouts.


Most people don’t realise that the purpose of a workout is not simply to burn as many calories as possible, but to utilise exercise or movement as an indicator or a signal to the body that we want to make a change.


For example, when we perform a resistance workout we seek to spark just enough of a stimulus to gesture to the body, “hey, we're going to have to get bigger and stronger to do this again” Likewise, when we do a cardio workout, what you're trying to achieve is to tell the body, “hey, we need to ramp up the metabolism, we need to get fitter, we're going to be doing this more often, so you better be prepared for it”.


When a calorie count is all that you're looking to achieve with a workout, you are on a one way path that ends with you running yourself into exhaustion. And this is what I consider the ‘sweat economy’. I urge you not to invest in it.


You’ll likely see it in fitness classes and workout apps, they might say for example “Burn 800 calories in our workout” as if the sheer number of calories burnt is the mark of efficacy, which it definitely is not.


Consider too that you may already be tired, exhausted, depleted, and stressed when you begin your weight loss journey, compound that with caloric restriction and add to that a whopping 800 calorie burn and you can see why so many people burn out.


So What Workouts Will Be Best?


There are three components or types of exercise that I'd like to see in any weight loss program .And there's a big distinction to make, as two of them are to be considered workouts and the third would be better thought of as ‘activity’.


Firstly, HIIT training or highly intensive interval training which utilises short bursts of highly intensive cardiovascular exercise .


Next is going to be resistance training. This is using resistance, could be bodyweight, resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, other types of equipment, but whatever you can get your hands on to put resistance through your muscles.


Lastly we have LISS or low intensity steady state cardio. This is a low intensity form of cardio at a low heart rate that lends itself to fat loss or using fat for fuel. So the important distinction here is that both resistance training and HIIT are workouts, the idea being that you trade time and energy invested in them for a result in the future by way of an adaptation, whereas steady state cardio is better thought of as activity, so you can essentially do as much of it as you want to as part of your lifestyle or to fast track your results as at those low heart rates you won’t be accumulating much fatigue.



Mistake #4: Focusing On The Scale


One of the biggest mistakes you can make on your weight loss journey is to focus too closely on what is happening on the scale. Whilst it stands to reason that we use a scale to measure how much we weigh and we’re trying to achieve weight loss, so if we see weight loss on that scale, then that's a good thing. But again, as with many things in health & fitness, there is counter-intuitive nuance at play.


Note that not all weight loss is equal. Actually, weight loss is quite an indiscriminate term. For example in a traditional weight loss group any loss on the scale is encouraged and celebrated as a success. But if all weight loss were equal, would we celebrate 3lbs of lost lean muscle mass equally with 3lbs lost of stored body fat? Certainly not. The two outcomes are extremely different for both your health, composition and appearance. To labour the point, if you were to loose 3lbs of muscle, your would slow your metabolic rate (because it takes energy to maintain muscle) and you would also immediately have a higher body fat percentage (because fat mass vs lean mass is a ratio) so whilst technically, weight was lost on the scale, this would not be cause for celebration if we are actually interested in a lean toned aesthetic; to achieve this you must switch thinking from pure weight loss to losing weight via the preservation of muscle mass and the direction burning of stored body fat. Otherwise you will continue to chase what amounts to an arbitrary and fruitless goal.


There is another huge reason not to focus too much on the scale when seeking weight loss and that is is that it's so liable for fluctuation due to hormonal shifts, water intake, sodium intake and digestive variables. Of course, this can be completely demoralising if you’ve been doing everything right on your weight loss program but the scale shows a gain in weight. This kind of weight fluctuation is temporary and has no bearing on body fat percentage, which should be the real focus at the heart of your weight loss goal.



Due to the focus on body composition, on a long enough timeline, a weight loss goal gradually becomes a fat loss goal because the sheer amounts of weight to lose just aren't there anymore at a certain point. This means that as your weight loss program matures, you’ll be looking at incremental improvements in body composition naturally shifting focus to protecting muscle and burning body fat.


This all means that, ironically, the closer you get to your ideal weight, the less you'll actually be thinking about what's on the scale. You'll be thinking more and more visually and looking at what's going on in the mirror, you'll be really happy that you protected your muscle on the way down. To be clear, I'm not suggesting you treat what is happening on the scale as irrelevant, after all we are seeking to achieve weight loss, but what I do suggest is that what happens on the scale is just one marker of success, equal to how you feel and the confidence you’re getting from how you look.


Mistake #5: Not Creating A Supporting Lifestyle


Another big mistake best avoided when approaching a weight loss goal is made in failing to create a lifestyle that naturally burns more fat than it accumulates. So it's really giving emphasis and impact to the kind of lifestyle factors that play a role in weight loss and in health in general, and not just thinking about calories in versus calories out and exercise.


Those things are the other the main pillars, but there's a third one and that's how you live. This means your all around lifestyle because there are many things going on beyond just calorie intake, so cultivating the right kind of lifestyle to support your weight loss goals is very important.


For example, if you allow yourself to become sleep deprived, you may inadvertently elevate a hormone called leptin which is responsible for telling you when you are full. As you can imagine, if you're trying to not watch calories, but if you're trying to eat the right things, having a hormone that is unnecessarily elevated, that is failing to tell you when enough is enough, that can be a bit of a problem and have a knock on effect.

Secondly, if you're sleep deprived, you're going to be a little bit more stressed, you're going to be more tired, you're going to be less inclined to make good food choices. When you're exhausted, you're going to be reaching for food to give yourself a bit of an energy boost ,a bit of a mood boost, and very often even an emotional boost that just wouldn't have been necessary had sleep quality been better.


Poor sleep will also lead to worse recovery and inferior exercise performance. Of course we have to be realistic about the amount of sleep we're able to get with a busy schedule, responsibilities like a young family, perhaps a business to run, there is no doubt it can be difficult to achieve 8 hours sleep.


However, there are steps you can take, for example, completing an appraisal of how you're spending your time. Maybe there's some time you can take from one thing and allot it to sleep. Just a 30 minute increase could make a big difference. You may also be able to improve your sleep environment for better quality sleep. The simplest way to do that is to get your room temperature to 18 degrees before you get to sleep and try to maintain that throughout the night, which can induce a deep form of sleep.


The next biggest lifestyle factor I see compromise. People's well intentioned effort towards weight loss is failing to manage and regulate stress. Now, this could be a big problem because when you're overly stressed, you get a stress response, and that is an elevation in hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. This is body's ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. When you were attacked by a sabretooth tiger, evolutionarily speaking, your body would have welcomed these influx of hormones to enable you to fight a little bit harder or run a little bit faster and get out of the situation.


The problem is in our modern day lives when we encounter non-life threatening stresses, like worrying about money or interpersonal relationships, work stress, this can drip-feed the same hormones into our bloodstream.


This means we're getting a small amount of this ‘fight or flight’ response all the time, and our body isn't in a life or death situation but it's running mechanisms as if it were.


The consequences of this are twofold. Firstly, mechanisms like recovery are deprioritised as your body is thinking that right now you need to get away from this sabretooth tiger. This also extends to maintaining libido and immune function as this is the last thing you're thinking of when you're running away from a sabretooth tiger.


So you can see if you're getting this ‘fight or flight’ drip feed into your bloodstream. This is really negative to how you actually want to live. Of course, stress regulation is a broader conversation because you need to see which stress inducing situations you're in that you could change.


The important factor is that allowing stress to go unchecked creates a negative cycle. It's not good for your body composition, it's not good for your long term health and it certainly won't be good for your weight loss goal.


You may think that exercise is a fantastic mechanism with which to release stress and it is, but here is the nuance; exercise is only useful in regulating stress if you can recover from it. This really drives home the message about how well calibrated your workouts are for where you are in life right now, and indeed not allowing yourself to fall victim to the temptation of a very low caloric intake as a short-cut to weight loss, as it just won’t work.




Remember that weight loss is a goal, with a definite and defined outcome. It is not a lifelong strategy nor an identity, once you reach your desired weight, you must have created a lifestyle and habits that are maintainable year round, or you may find yourself stuck in a never ending cycle of chasing weight loss, regaining weight and chasing it again.