So, you’re working out. You’re on your fitness journey and staying committed. The exercises are consistent, and you aren’t just going through the motions. You’re pushing yourself. After every workout, the sweat is just pouring off of you. Great job!
So why aren’t you getting the results you want?
The happens to all of us at one time or another. No matter what you do, you seem to stay stuck at a plateau so you’re certainly not alone. Unfortunately, though, this is the point early on when a lot of people tend to give up. They feel like if they aren’t seeing progress, they probably never will, and they throw in the towel.
What we want to do today is identify why exactly you’re not reaching your fitness goals.
There are a lot of possible reasons as to why you haven’t achieved the level of fitness — or the body — you’re wanting. So below are some likely explanations that you may not have even thought about.
Reason 1: You’re not getting enough sleep
We all know the benefits of sleep. You feel better, have lower risks of depression, and feel driven, increasing the chance of committing to a workout. However, a lack of sleep has further-reaching consequences than you might think. If you’re trying to build muscle, sleep has a major impact on your body’s ability to produce and use testosterone. In one study, male participants who were sleep-deprived saw their testosterone levels drop by up to 15%, much higher than the average annual decrease of 1-2% for men over 30.
Beyond that, the quantity and quality of the sleep you get are critical for your fitness. Sleep regulates mood, and we all know what it feels like to plan a workout, only to find yourself lacking any motivation when the time comes. Not only that, you’ll find it hard to say no to unhealthy snacks. Double whammy.
Reason 2: Rewards with food
Great workout? Check. Worked hard? Check. Feel tired and in need of food? Check. You might be thinking that after that workout, it wouldn’t be so bad if you treated yourself, would it? Yes. Unfortunately, this is a major tripping point for many people. Overindulgence after a workout, either intentionally or unintentionally, can have devastating results on people’s progress. Let’s say you did an hour of intense aerobic training. That’s enough to burn 480 calories. That’s awesome, but that burger and fries meal can carry around 1,190 calories.
Reason 3: Ignoring sugar
Many trainers and nutritionists agree, that just as (if not more) important than calories is the amount of sugar you’re consuming per day. Sugar contains two molecules: glucose, which is vital to life and produced naturally; and fructose, which is not part of metabolism and not produced by humans. Too much sugar means the fructose gets metabolized by the liver, where it’s turned into fat and then secreted into our blood.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, though. It just takes a little bit more work. If you have a nutritionist, talk to them about your diet, and look into the foods you bring into your house to make sure they won’t hold you back from getting the toned body you’re looking for.
Reason 4: You’re overtraining
Yep, unfortunately, you can have too much of a good thing. In previous blog posts I’ve tackled the subject of overtraining and while it can be argued a little is a good way to overcome a plateau, long-term overtraining is detrimental to the body.
Your body doesn’t build muscle while it’s working; it builds muscle while it’s resting. So, working out every single day doesn’t give your body the time it requires to recover.
That doesn’t mean you can work out for one day, take the rest of the week off, and expect to see results. Again, it’s all about balance. Find that sweet spot where you’re pushing yourself while giving your body the downtime it needs, and it will reward you.
Reason 5: Sitting all-day
The Mayo Clinic reports extended sitting throughout the day is linked to death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. In addition to that, long periods of sitting is connected “with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels.” And in case you were thinking “No big deal, I’ll just compensate with an extra-intense workout,” no such luck: The Mayo Clinic says a few hours of moderate or even vigorous exercises a week aren’t enough to offset these risks. So even if you’re using one of our fat-shredding Tabata workouts, too much time plopped on your keester is enough to make all that hard work for naught. The alternative is simple: more movement throughout the day. Don’t spend too much time in front of a TV or behind a desk. A few breaks of walking and stretching out your body can make all the difference.