I lift weights. I do some sort of cardio. I also do high intensity exercises. And I’m a woman.
And as much as I’m a fan of strength training, eating well and doing things in life that makes me happy, it makes me sad to see every day in my career that us women almost always do the wrong things when trying to lose weight.
Although it does make me sad, it’s not anyone’s fault because there are just loads of information out there that portrays women and fitness negatively.
Pick up a fitness magazine and every month you’re promised super toned abs for doing 15 minutes of crunches and sit ups. Ask someone what is the best way to tone our arms, butt and thighs and you will get different answers. And yet you never see results.
But that’s okay, because I’ve been there. Three years ago, while I was starting my journey in losing weight, I made these same mistakes that I’ve gathered today. I didn’t want to lift weights. I just ran miles and miles. I stuck to a solid strict 1200 calories diet. Although they were not bad mistakes, they have definitely changed my perspective in fitness. And I’m happy to share this with you, hoping that you don’t make the same mistakes again. Most of the points here are generally geared towards women because I was in your shoes. But if you’re a men, you might learn something useful out of this too.
Let’s all learn from our mistakes and make our weight loss goals a more successful one.
Mistake 1. Not lifting weights.
I lift weights three times a week. The last time I checked, I don’t look like Incredible Hulk. Here’s a simple truth: women are not genetically predisposed to get bulky by lifting weights. If you happen to see your skinny (male) cousin in the next family reunion and he has grown massively ‘big’, it’s all due to the testosterone in his body.
We ladies do produce testosterone, but not enough to create big muscular biceps.
What about your best friend’s sister who is a bodybuilder? Bodybuilding women train differently, eat differently (and usually more than what they have to burn) and they take certain supplements to help them win the competition. Unless you’re doing all that, you will not grow big. You will grow stronger.
Another thing to note? If you constantly lift lightweights for 20 repetitions, you will build muscular endurance, not the toned, tight and dense muscle you’re after.
If you want to get that toned look fitness magazines promised you, you have to lift heavy (something that allows you to do about 12 reps of the exercise) and eat the right kind of foods which ultimately burns all the fat covering your muscles.
How to stop making the same mistake? Start lifting weights if you’ve never lifted, or if you have, lift heavier with lesser repetitions.
Mistake 2. Believing that you HAVE to do cardio to lose weight.
Cardio haters would love me right now. You don’t have to do cardio to lose fat. In fact, according to a study, strength training alone can help you lose fat due to the muscle breakdown and rebuilding after that, which leads to an increase in metabolism. If you don’t like running on the treadmill, then don’t. If you don’t like doing something, you shouldn’t even do it in the first place. You’ll risk your happiness among other things and chances are, you probably would feel less motivated than you started.
I’m a big fan of doing things that I like. Yes, I do try it out if I’ve never done it before. But the moment I feel myself disliking it, I will stop. That’s not quitting. That’s being smart. And being smart is knowing your body more than the fitness magazine (or your brother who forces you to go out for a run) does.
If you don’t like lifting weights? Then don’t do it either. In fact, you can JUST lose weight just by changing your diet because 80% of how we look and feel today is the result of what we eat. BUT! If you’re after more than JUST LOSING WEIGHT, you’ve got to do something more than just eating clean.
If the idea of walking up to the dumbbells and surrounding yourself amongst a sea of testosterone does not appeal to you, here are some other ways you can strength train:
– Bodyweight exercises (e.g push ups, tricep dips, squats)
– Kettlebells, sandbags, medicine balls
– Do some yoga
– Carry your son or daughter while shopping
– Park your car the furthest you can and carry your groceries back with your hands
The main thing here is to do what you like while using your muscles.
How you can avoid this mistake? Choose an activity that you like. If you like Zumba, great! Make sure you give your biggest energy when moving. Stick to something that you love and success will be on your way.
Mistake 3. I want abs so I’ll do 100 sit ups a day.
My dear ladies, you cannot spot reduce fat. Doing sit ups all day long won’t give you a flat tummy, as much as doing tricep dips all day won’t give you toned arms. Your body is genetically made to store, and of course lose, fat at a certain place in a certain timing. Some of us lose fat first from our tummy, some from our butt. If you’ve been hitting the gym regularly with a friend doing the same thing and she ends up losing more fats from her thighs, it’s because the both of you are simply genetically different.
If you want to lose fat faster, try reducing the amount of time you spend in the gym and invest more time in food preparation. Like I’ve said before, what you put into your mouth counts for 80% of how successful you are in losing body fat. Eat right and you’re more than halfway there.
How to avoid this mistake? Do exercises that involves as many body parts as possible.
Mistake 4. Giving up when you don’t get the same results as your friend/sister/aunty who is on the same plan as you.
You’re beautiful, amazing, smart and unique. Did I say unique? Yes, you are unique. And that one plan that might work for your friend might not work for you. She might have lost 20lbs following a certain diet or doing certain things in the gym but don’t get your hopes too high by thinking you can achieve the same thing.
Just like how you can’t lose fats from your tummy by simply doing sit ups, you can’t simply listen to your friend who has done this and that and hope for the same results.
How do you know if the Paleo Diet, CrossFit or strength training 3 times a week is going to work out for you? You have to physically try it, track and record your results. That’s the only way you can prove that the result works.
In terms of nutrition, I do not calorie count. I believe in eating the right foods. I do a mixture of cardio, strength training and high intensity things. It works for me, but it might not work for you. Just remember, everybody is different. We all live different lives; we have different problems, struggles, preferences and likes.
How to avoid this mistake? Stop beating yourself up and giving up if you don’t get the same results! If you want to start working out with a buddy, great! I would even recommend it for that extra boost of motivation. But follow the plan religiously and stick to it. Take it as it is and don’t just quit if your friend has better results than you. At least now you know why it fails to work for you.
Mistake 5. Great, I want to lose weight so I’ll just eat anything as long as my calories is under _____ amount.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I’m sorry my dear, but that’s wrong. Yes you probably have heard it somewhere that eating lesser than what your body needs will make you lose weight. Even better, if you want to lose weight faster, then let’s eat even lesser than that. This is one attitude I think we ladies should stop stressing upon ourselves.
Yes, eating less will make you lose weight but the quality of your food matters too. Consuming ONLY 1200 calories a day will leave you hungry, unhappy, grumpy and just plain miserable. And, worse, it’s not sustainable. You have to know that not all calories are created equal. Eating a bar of fun-size Twix that is 80 calories won’t have the same effect as eating a Granny Smith apple that’s 80 calories. Yes they both contain sugar, but in different forms. Plus, an apple has far more nutrients, vitamins and minerals ensuring optimal physiological function over the long run.
And you no longer need to go see your doctor that often. Unless he looks like Ryan Gosling.
How to avoid this mistake? Just eat real, natural food that makes you feel good, and limit the amount of sugary junks that you consume. I would never put my female clients on a 1200-calorie diet because I’ve been through that path once and it’s not a nice feeling. Quality matters when it comes to this, not the quantity. Combine good real food with workouts that YOU like and you will lose weight happier and more successfully.
Mistake 6. Putting yourself down
Wait a minute. You didn’t think there were only 5 mistakes, did you?
There’s 1 more mistake that I think is worth pointing out and that is – putting ourselves down. I’m sure we’ve all been there, especially when we’re just starting out. But you are not going to see results if you constantly feel, think and act negative. Results will come – only if you start believing in yourself. You should start believing in yourself more than you ever have if you really want to lose weight, feel healthier and look good and this comes from no one else but you.
For example, for the longest time, I’ve always wanted to do a pull-up. I keep telling myself – “No I can’t do a pull-up. I’m scared of approaching that bar and hang myself so I will stick to just doing back exercises to strengthen my back and assisted chin-ups”. Not only was I doing it the wrong way (I can’t just train my back and hope one day I can magically do a pull-up), I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to begin with. Once I got that negativity out of me, I got way more confident and I banished the fear I once had for the pull-up bar. Because of this, I can now do half a pull-up and I strongly believe I can do a full proper pull-up soon.
It’s okay to make mistakes, they are there for a reason. Like I said, I was there doing all of these before. But we have to learn from them, move forward and feel stronger, smarter and definitely wiser.
What are some of the mistakes you know you’re guilty off?
Are there any other mistakes you see regularly when working out?
I would love to hear your thoughts so share them with me and the rest of the community. If you have any questions, do ask me too. I would love to answer them. I might not have all the answers but I can offer you my perspective and genuine help.
|Written on 12/26/2013 by Aqilah Norazman. Aqilah Norazman writes at PrettyAwesomeFitness.com where she shares her genuine advice and tips on fitness, nutrition and self-improvement based on her own experience losing 20 kilos in 8 months and keeping it off and as a internationally qualified personal trainer. Get her eBook for free and follow her on Twitter @Aqilah_Norazman.|
Photo Credit: Maria Ly