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I’ve been working out for a while now but I have stopped losing weight – why?

When you’ve been training for a while and have noticed little to no progress in weight loss (or strength gains), you have likely reached what we call a plateau.

This means that your body has become too used to the activities and/or exercises you have been doing in order to lose weight. In order to overcome the plateau, it’s important to challenge your body with new exercises or to increase intensity/difficulty of your regular exercises.

If you like to run or walk, for instance, you may want to consider increasing your speed every two minutes to increase your heart rate even more. For example, walk two minutes, run two minutes and repeat for 20-30 minutes. For runners, run two minutes at your normal speed then sprint for one minute and repeat for 20-30 minutes.

Hidden Calories

Have you ever wondered how you weren’t losing weight, when you were eating ‘healthy’? You may not realize it, but there are often more hidden calories in certain foods and beverages than people are aware of. As an example, consider a chicken salad, this meal is full of protein (chicken), micronutrients (salad, vegetables) and healthy fats (avocado, nuts) – so would this not be a smart healthy choice for someone looking to lose weight? It sounds like it would be, but with this salad, you may also be consuming more dressing than you would have necessarily needed. Additionally, you may be drinking a cappuccino with your salad – adding an extra 200+ calories

Some hidden calories to watch out for are:

  • Olive oils (approximately 60 calories in 1 tablespoon)
  • Alcohol (approximately 154 calories in 1 can of beer)
  • Sauces (approximately 100 calories per 100ml)

How to ‘quit’ snacking

We are all guilty of snacking, especially late at night! Whether you’ve had a bad day or just have a sweet tooth and can’t resist that tub of ice cream in the fridge, here are some tips to help you ‘quit’ snacking:

  • Eat what you enjoy: Ensure you have some of your favourite foods in your daily meals. For example if you like chocolate, consider putting two squares in your yogurt. Once you satisfy those taste buds, you may be less likely to binge on it that night.
  • Eat mindfully and take your time eating your meals: Take deep breaths, appreciate and savor the food you are consuming, and take short breaks. The slower and more mindfully you eat, your ‘fullness’ cue will kick in.
  • Distract yourself: If you are feeling like binging, consider going instead for a walk. You may not realize it, but many of those cravings come from boredom.
  • Hydrate: Drink water, or herbal teas to kill the hunger.
  • Identify your triggers: Get to the root of why you are feeling these urges. Are you stressed with work? Did you have a bad day? Once you get to the root it’s easier to manage with healthier options (i.e. if you know work will be stressful tomorrow, pack an extra apple, banana or plan to make a morning smoothie to help start your day!).

Why is it important to activate my core during exercise?

Lower back pain or injury to the abdominal muscles may cause delay or even absence in the contraction of core muscles which could lead to further dysfunction and pain. Having a strong core can help our body’s performance in daily activities as well as sporting activities and may even help prevent future injuries.

The function of your core muscles is to prevent excessive translation in the joints, which reduces wear and tear and helps to protect structures such as discs and ligaments against injury. These muscles are engaged in separate ways and therefore you can have a six-pack and still have a weak core since you cannot strengthen your core muscles by exclusively doing regular planks or sit up exercises. Therefore, teaching your body to activate core muscles during exercise can improve pain and allow your body to function to its full potential.

If I experience soreness, should I take time off from working out?

If you are only slightly sore, exercise can bring relief. You can do light resistance training, core stabilization exercises or low intensity cardio like walking. You can also work on muscles other than the sore muscles (i.e. if the legs are sore, focus on the upper body).

Functional training programs should be designed to allow muscle recovery, which usually takes between 48-72 hours, depending no the type and intensity of training. For heavy lifting, you can work different muscle groups on different days. Large muscle groups (quads and hamstrings) should be given greater amount of time to recover (i.e. 72 hours), while smaller muscles like the core are built for endurance and therefore can be worked more frequently (i.e. every 48 hours).