When You’re Exercising But Your Body’s Not Changing

I was asking people for fitness questions on Twitter the other day and I got a great one from @TartandFit: ”Why is it that I keep exercising but my body’s not changing?”

Good question, Michelle!  What does it mean?  Are you doing something wrong?  Not necessarily, but here are some things to check.

Are you eating your workout calories? So many people say, “I worked out today so I can eat that _______.”  (Fill in the blank with your crave food here.) Often those extra calories are more than you burned during your workout and you wind up maintaining or actually gaining weight.

Are you working out with intensity? Leisurely strolling on the treadmill while you flip through a magazine isn’t going to cut it.  You need some high intensity to really open up those fat cells and drain ‘em.  Also, you can’t count warm up and cool down time as part of your workout.  Cardiovascular training only happens when you’re AT the cardiovascular level, which means you have to actually be sweating, and the more sweat the better.

Are you eating water retaining foods? Sodas, salty snacks, etc. trigger your body to store more water than it needs.  Eat clean for three to five days and you should see some weight come off in the form of water.  If that happens, then you know you’ve been doing your body wrong and you need to eat better, so ditch the junk!

Are you in a fitness rut? Our bodies adjust to the same old, same old quickly.  If you haven’t changed up your fitness routine in the last six weeks then it’s time to do so now.  Add weight or reps, add interval training, get a workout buddy who will challenge you, or try something completely fresh.  A new routine could quickly blast you through your plateau.

Are you getting enough sleep? Our body malfunctions when we’re sleep-deprived.  We get sugar cravings, we retain water, we get cranky and don’t want to go to the gym.  There are so many ways that sleep dep sabotages our fitness goals.  It’s critical that we get enough sleep.  If we don’t, frankly, we’re screwed.  Make sure you are electronics-free at least one hour before bedtime and don’t push yourself to stay up late.  When you feel sleepy, heed the call for Zzzzs.

Are you stressed out? Whether it’s little things piling up or one big overwhelming thing, they happen all the time.  When we stress out our cortisol levels go up and we start sabotaging our best intentions.  Get to-dos off your plate, take the “me time” that you deserve, pick up meditation.  Whatever you need to de-stress, make sure that you do it regularly.  It’s not a luxury, it’s for your health.

We need to start thinking about fitness holistically.  It’s not just the two to five hours a week that we work out.  It’s literally our entire life.  What we eat, when we sleep, how we handle stress, all of it.

Have you exercised and not seen the changes you had hoped for?  How did you break through?  I’d love to hear your stories.