Why Your Diet Might Be Working Against You

Jennifer is a middle-aged single mother with a young daughter. She has been avoiding sugary foods for a few weeks. And she has also been faithfully watching her portions. She has been exercising for an hour 4 times a week as well. However, she has not lost any weight, and doesnt know why.

This is not uncommon. You might be doing everything you can to lose weight, but cant seem to make any progress. Consequently, you are frustrated or depressed and are ready to give up.

One problem is that many diets are homogeneous. They dont consider the individuals physiology, metabolism, and lifestyle. They are a cookie-cutter approach to weight loss, which doesnt work in most cases. Therefore, employing the services of a registered dietician may be the best solution. This can be done in person or via the Internet, where you can contact your dietician any time of the day or night via e-mail. Your dietician will be your personal coach and cheerleader, helping you through the inevitable setbacks.

Lack of support is a big reason that diets often fail. You might feel like you have no one to talk to about your weight problems. When this is the case, some individuals go to psychotherapists to help them with their food-related issues. This can be very helpful, especially if an individual suffers from an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia. Bulimia and anorexia are serious diseases that need to be treated by a medical professional in order to ensure the recovery of the patient.

Hidden calories in the foods we eat is another pitfall of dieting. Often, we are consuming calories and dont even know it. Sugary drinks like sodas and fruit juices are a common source of unneeded calories. By switching to diet drinks, or drinking water, and substituting skim milk for whole milk, you can eliminate the hidden calories that are keeping you from reaching your weight loss goals.

Being a yoyo dieter is another problem. You might start a diet, then quit before youve made any measurable progress because you are bored or feel deprived. Healthy weight loss is not often quick, and involves losing only a couple of pounds per week. Keeping a positive attitude and sticking with a healthy diet plan is key to losing weight.

Lifestyle change is part of successful eating and exercise. Avoid eating for comfort or emotional fulfillment. Changing the way you eat requires lifetime commitment; it means that you have to follow the plan for the long haul. Find an eating plan that is healthy, and that you can stick to. While your main goal might be to lose weight, you should also focus on being healthy. Fad diets cannot give you both of those things. For that reason, you must carefully choose your eating plan.

You Need More Than Aerobic Exercise

Getting in shape takes more than aerobic exercise. While aerobics are an important component to overall fitness, you also need to incorporate muscle building workouts several times a week to achieve a well balanced exercise program.

The benefits of aerobics are well known. When you exercise aerobically you strengthen your heart muscle as well as your entire cardiovascular system. Muscle building workouts fine tune the body and make it better able to function and burn away fat.

There are two types of muscle building workouts that will either allow you to gain muscle mass or tone your existing muscle. The goal of a low rep, high weight muscle building workout is to increase muscle mass, or plump up the muscle to its greatest volume. Lifting heavy weight causes the muscle fibers to swell and you will notice a significant increase in the mass of muscle under your skin. The goal of high rep, low weight muscle building workouts is to tone the muscle and make it stronger without a significant noticeable change in mass. Women often perform toning workouts in order to sculpt their muscles and make them appear more defined and bodybuilders select programs that allow them to increase mass.

When people begin new muscle building workouts they expect results quickly. This is fine if your body is lean to begin with. But if you have a high ratio of body fat to lean muscle, you will have to do aerobic cardiovascular exercises to burn off fat in combination with muscle building workouts to build muscle in order to see the desired results. Eating a low fat diet composed of lean proteins and low carbohydrates is also helpful in building muscle and reducing fat.

One of the benefits of muscle building workouts, aside from larger and more toned muscles, is an increase in your bodys ability to burn fat. Even when you are not exercising, your muscles continue to burn fat more effectively when you perform a regular fitness program that includes muscle building workouts. Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and improves the function of the cardiovascular system which is important in delivering blood to your muscles. But to continuously burn fat you need a combination of both aerobic training and muscle building.

It is a misconception that by working out you are actually building additional muscle tissue. We are born with the highest number of muscle fibers we will ever have and that will never change. What you are trying to change through muscle building workouts is the appearance of the muscle tissue, bulking it up and making the fibers larger and more defined.

Workout Without a Gym

We know that using free weights and machines is the fastest and most efficient way there is to improve your metabolism and strength, but for many reasons these may not be convenient or readily accessible to you. 

You may also have no access to a commercial gym, home gym or are on business trip, but there can be a solution, a strength-training workout without the need of expensive machines.

As with any exercise, whether you are using your own body weight, machines or free weights, if the resistance doesn’t increase, your muscles won’t be worked to their maximum capacity and the stimulus these fibres need to grow will be missing. 

Exercises done correctly will build the lean muscle and increase your metabolism in the same way as performing exercises at a gymnasium, but without the time constraints and associated costs. 

These exercises can be easily done in a bedroom, hotel room, a park, school yard, ceiling rafters in a garage or in a doorway and all you have to do is use your imagination. There will always be a way to add more resistance to your workouts. 

Please remember: It doesn’t matter where you are working out at home, a hotel, or a park always warm up properly before beginning your session, and cool down and stretch when you are finished. 

Leg Exercises

Squats – 

They build muscle in the thighs, shape the buttocks and improve endurance. Position your feet about 13 to 17 inches apart or at shoulder width, keeping the back straight and your head up. If you want you can use something that will give you some support, i.e. a desk, bookcase, sink etc. 

Now squat down to where the tops of the thighs are parallel to the floor, hold for a second and then stand up, but dont bounce at the bottom of the movement, use a nice fluid motion. Always exhale your breath as you stand up. 

Lunges 

Stand straight in correct posture; now stand with one leg forward and one leg back. Keeping your abdominal muscles tight and chest up, lower your upper body down, bending your leg (don’t step out too far). 

You should have about one to two feet between your feet at this stage, the further forward you step, and the more your gluteus and hamstring muscles will have to work. 

Do not allow your knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down and stop where your feel comfortable (try not to let your back come forward) then push directly back up. Do all your reps on one leg then switch legs and do all your reps on the other leg. 

Back Exercises

Chin-ups – 

Chin-ups are a great upper body workout, particularly targeting your biceps, deltoid and lat muscles. Use a doorway chin-up bar, ceiling rafters in a garage or grab the moulding of your door frame, position your hands with an under hand grip and hang down stretching the lats, slowly raise your body until your chin reaches the bar level. 

Pause a moment before slowly lowering yourself back to the starting position. Dont swing or use momentum to get your body to the top, just use the target muscles. Doorway chinning bars remove from the doorway when you are not using them and can be put up and taken down in seconds. 

Bent Over Row – 

Take up a position with your right hand and right knee braced on a sturdy bed or some other flat surface that will provide a good support. Now pick up a dumbbell or something heavy that you can hold onto with your left hand. 

Visualize your arms as hooks and slowly bring the dumbbell or object up to the side of your chest, keeping your back straight, then lower the weight back down to arms length, no lower, on extremes, safe form only please. Concentrate on your back muscles. Reverse the whole procedure and do the exercise now with your right arm.

Chest Exercises

Push-Up – 

The push up is used for building chest, shoulders and arms. Lie face down on the floor with your hands about shoulder width apart and keeping your palms turned slightly inward. Now push-up until your arms are straight, lower and repeat for repetitions. 

To make it more difficult elevate your feet. Try placing the toes of your feet on a stable, elevated surface such as a bench, chair or a stair. Straightening your body, position your hands on the floor at shoulder width, lower your body until your chest touches the floor at the bottom, and then return to the starting position in a nice fluid motion. 

Dips – 

This exercise can be done between two sturdy chairs or other surfaces that provide stability. The dip is another great upper body exercise. Its a compound movement as well and involves working all the muscles that the push up works. 

Keep your head up and body as vertical as possible. For the beginning of the movement, start at the top (arms fully extended) and lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the seat of the chairs, hold and then push up to the top of the movement until your arms are fully extended again. Keep looking straight ahead and dont bounce at the bottom of the movement. 

Adding Weight

Although the simple weight of your own body is enough resistance to provide an effective workout we need progressive overload (added resistance) to become stronger. 

So all we need to do is add some weight wherever we can find some. Because there are no metal plates and fancy machines to use it doesnt matter because the body doesnt care where it is as long as it’s receiving resistance of some kind. 

You can use heavy books clasped in your hands. You can buy some cheap weighted dumbbells or ankle weights. A weighted vest will also allow you to add resistance for both chin-ups and push-ups. Try to buy one that will let you remove and add weight as you see fit. Also a backpack filled with books can be perfect for most of the exercises and is a cheap alternative.

How about a couple of buckets and fill them with a certain level of water? As you get stronger fill them with more water. This is perfect because depending on the exercise, all you need to do is to increase or decrease the amount of water in the buckets for the required amount of resistance.

To wrap things up

We know that using free weights and machines are the fastest and most efficient way there is to gain lean muscle and strength, but by performing the exercises in this article youll find that they will provide you with the same benefits as going to a gymnasium but without the ongoing costs and time constraints.