There are many reasons why you might not be getting the results you want and are working hard for. The best advice I can give you is this: listen to your body. It’s very common to be doing all the right things, and yet still not get results. So why would this be?
You’re working against your genetics
We now know that genetics plays a huge part in fitness and weight management. Understanding what your DNA says about you is really important to a successful health and fitness program. DNA testing removes all the guesswork and allows you to exercise according to your genetic strengths.
Stress is one of the single biggest causes of preventable death in the UK. Exercise will raise cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, and that’s healthy and normal. However, if there are already elevated levels of cortisol in the blood, exercise can have a damaging or counterproductive effect. You might actually be lowering your immune response and encouraging inflammation. If you’re feeling very stressed out, it might be a better idea to go for a light jog, a walk or to rest.
We just have to roll with the punches and accept that as we get older, we need to adapt our exercise program and our expectations. The important thing is adaptation – it comes back to listening to your body, and responding to what it needs on a day-to-day and year-on-year basis. Prioritise quality over quantity. In other words, put the quality of the exercise sessions over the number of sessions you do and how long they are.
The old adage “what gets measured gets done” is valid here. Having a really clearly defined goal will help you to stay focused, it’s as simple as that. You’ll still need to adapt and adjust according to how you’re feeling on any given day, but keep an eye on your main goal and stay focused.
Poor sleep can have a big impact on the success and enjoyment levels of your workouts. If you’re not sleeping well, you might get through the workout, but you’ll miss out on the benefits if your body isn’t able to cope, whether that’s muscle-building or fat-burning. It’s now possible to monitor your sleep using wearable tech, and then cross-correlate your sleep data against your activity levels to understand how well you’ve recovered and therefore what kind of activity you should plan.
It’s very important to stay hydrated at all times. Even when you’re 2% dehydrated, your performance will be affected. If you’ve lost more than 5% of body weight, can have a performance impairment of up to 30%. One of the biggest mistakes I see is people neglecting to drink enough water. I’ve heard all the excuses, from not wanting to go to the loo every hour to not liking the taste. It’s vital to survival and optimum health, just find a way to drink it!
Your training partner
Sometimes your success can be affected by the person you’re working out with. Are you finding that you end up following their workout, the one that they enjoy and get results from? Is that person really supportive of your goals? It might be that you’re better served working out alone, or just doing aspects of your workouts together. Beware training with your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife too, as that rarely works in my experience! (Although if it does, great, stick with it!)
This article first appeared in the July 2016 issue of SE22 magazine.