As a female-only personal trainer, all too often I encounter women committing several of the same fitness mistakes & frustrated by their lack of results. Today, probably more than ever, there is an overload of fitness information & most of it preys on the consumer rather than helps them. Over the years I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of inspiring women & the truth is, most of the time, the lack of result is not from lack of effort but rather from common misconceptions, prioritizing the wrong things & general confusion. What I aim to teach is simplicity, consistency & sustainability. I have gone through my own fair share of mishaps & mistakes but I’ve also had some incredible success. It's learning from these mistakes that has allowed me to grow as both an individual & a coach.
Before we get deep into it, I want to take a moment to discuss how fat loss works. Fat loss is driven by nutrition. You need a calorie deficit & you need to consistently maintain that deficit. There are way too many people trying to out train their calories. Trust me it doesn’t work! Exercise, on its own, was never meant to elicit fat loss. Yet, it’s often the main factor people focus on when fat loss is the goal, and the only factor they consider as an issue when they fail to reach that goal. Successful fat loss is primarily a function of diet not exercise, trust me you aren’t burning nearly as many calories during your workouts as you think you are. It’s significantly more efficient to eat fewer calories than it is to burn them & it’s extremely easy to out eat any amount of exercise you do. Your nutrition via a calorie deficit will always be the number one driver of fat loss. Your workouts are simply the passenger.
Fat loss is a process that requires 3 important things:
A consistent caloric deficit
A strength training program
As women, we have the ability to make a huge impact on this industry. We can bust myths, show our badass strength, build confidence & really empower other women to do the same. If, you are frustrated because you have tried everything but nothing seems to work, the great news is that with a few minor tweaks, some patience & a determination not to quit, you can change & accomplish whatever it is you are after.
Mistake #1 : EXCESSIVE CARDIO
Prioritizing cardio & group exercises classes does not change the shape of your body. Sure these activities can be enjoyable & they do burn calories, but ignoring strength training will not yield the body composition changes you desire. While I’ll be the first to admit, there is nothing like a nice sweaty cardio sesh, exercising in this way doesn’t ‘tone’ your body. You’ll be much better served to prioritize a strength training program & sprinkle in cardio as needed or desired.
Mistake #2: FEAR OF LIFTING HEAVY
Embrace your strength ladies, please. Don’t fear being strong. I understand that it can be intimidating to venture into the weight room, but you aren't doing yourself any favours by huddling in the corner with your pink dumbbells doing the same few movements & never prioritizing progressive overload by getting stronger over time. Whether it’s through lifting more weight or performing more reps, you must be improving in some way or you’ll stay the same. In my 7 years as a professional trainer & 10 years training myself, not I, nor a single client I've worked with has ever woken up 8-12 weeks into the program and suddenly turned into Arnold. Fat loss, yes. Smaller frame & thus smaller clothes, absolutely. But, legs like tree trunks or biceps & shoulders as big as basketballs, definitely not. Getting bulky depends on calories just like fat loss does. You want to look bulky, lift weights & eat in a calorie surplus. There’s a reason why nutrition is such a huge proponent of goals & why diet needs to be a primary focus. So, unless you specifically want to get bigger & you eat for that goal, you don't need to worry about ending up looking like the Hulk. Muscle tone is simply the presence of muscle in the absence of body fat.
Mistake #3: WORSHIPPING SWEAT & MUSCLE SORENESS
We've adopted a mentality that a workout is only good or beneficial if it's extremely sweaty & provides severe DOMS, both of which mean nothing in regards to how effective a workout is. Sweating doesn’t equal fat loss, it doesn’t dictate whether your workout was amazing or crappy because sweating doesn’t burn calories. If you’re working out, you can burn plenty of calories & hardly sweat but it doesn’t mean that you didn’t work hard enough. Sweating is your bodies cooling system. In other words, if your body temperature goes up, you will sweat to cool it off but an increase in temperature does not result in an increase in calorie burn. And equal to that, you shouldn’t always be sore. If you are, there is one of two things happening, either you aren’t being consistent or you are chasing soreness rather than following a program. There are plenty of workouts designed to make you sweaty, extremely sore & very tired but that certainly doesn’t mean they are more effective at producing the stimulus necessary to get stronger and build muscle. So, just like soreness doesn’t bring about all the GAINZ, sweat isn’t FAT crying either.
Mistake #5: COMPARISON & FOLLOWING YOUR FAV FITSPO
“What workout is she doing & what does she eat daily? I'm just going to do that because I want to look just like her." But, she isn't you. YOU are you. You are unique. Your lifestyle is unique. Embrace it & find what works for YOU. Comparing your level of strength or how you look to someone else only leads to frustration. But putting your energy and focus into improving yourself will allow you to work harder & enjoy the process.
Mistake #6: REST, WHAT'S THAT!?!
Not resting enough between exercises during a workout to enable progress or during the week to promote recovery. Rest is important. Resting enough promotes better workouts & performance within them. Women tend to have a hard time taking any days off & also want to quickly move from exercise to exercise without resting. Giving your body rest allows you to come back stronger and therefore work harder. It allows you to being the intensity & effort required to every training session. If you don’t let your muscles recover, you’ll continue to spin your wheels.
Mistake #7: PROGRAM HOPPING
Not sticking to a particular program long enough to see its full potential due to boredom (juvenile btw) or not seeing change quickly enough so inevitably jumping to the next program. Boot camp on Monday, spin class on Tuesday, barre on Wednesday, yoga on Thursday, run group on Friday, and then a HIIT, core & pilates class on Saturday, sound familiar!?! While any exercise is better than no exercise, the complete lack of a program/plan will prevent you from getting any truly effective results. Adding a little variety to your training program might not be a bad thing, but if you truly want results, you do need to be smart about it. Achieving & maintaining progress is a long game that must be approached with patience. If you put in the work and train with intensity and a commitment at getting stronger, the results will come.
Mistake #8: UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS & NOT TRUSTING THE PROCESS
Two months until your holiday, a few months before your wedding, a couple weeks to lose 20lbs. Seriously, not going to happen. Results don't come overnight so expecting too much too quickly can be another trap & an easy one to fall into. People advertise false claims & magic potions every day but that doesn’t mean they are realistic or reasonable. I get the temptation to take on everything at once, add all the workouts & extremely slash calories but trust me, these things will only lead to another rebound & a complete loss of interest. Going from 0 to 100 & overcomplicating things just makes matters worse. It takes time and commitment to bring results. Fat loss is hard. It is a long road & there is no way around it other than to be patient. You can try all the supplements, fad diets, potions & magic you want but eventually each of these things has an expiry date. Keep a formulated plan, make realistic goals & brace yourself for the long haul.
Fat loss, exercise & even nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated, just individualized. Rather than moulding yourself to some all-or-nothing program, make things about moulding a program to your lifestyle. Learn the basics & stick with them consistently, aiming to improve little by little ... just a little bit better. Don’t let the same old comfort & style of training lead you further away from the physique you desire. Accept that change takes time. Don’t expect a drastic transformation in a week or month, focus on the process, and take things one meal and one workout at a time. My best self & body have actually come from the most balanced & relaxed mindset I've ever had around food & exercise.
Avoid these all too familiar mistakes & just work on being healthier & getting stronger overall. You'll thank me later.
Until next time,