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Family Sports & Fitness

Make Your Workout Work Again

A lot of factors join forces to give you the tone-up/weight-loss results you’re looking for. But after a while, you might realize you’re not getting the results you expected. See if the culprit is any of these eight reasons and use our remedies to move back on track.

Reason: You’re only doing cardio.
Cardio does burn calories, but a complete, proper exercise plan includes cardio, strength training and flexibility. Sure cardio strengthens your cardiovascular system, but it doesn’t really change your body composition by building more muscle.

Remedy: Add strength training to your routine.
Lift weights or do body-weight exercises, like lunges and push-ups, at least twice a week for the results you want. Resistance training decreases body fat, increases muscle mass and strengthens bone density. Circuit training or working with a kettlebell can give you the ultimate combo workout of strength and cardio.

Reason: You’re not eating right.
Proper nutrition and the right amount of calories fuels your body. Eat too much and your weight management plan goes out the window; eat too little and you won’t have enough energy to exercise to your fullest.

Remedy: Start a food log.
Monitor how many calories you’re eating in a day. Remember, it takes just 100 extra calories a day to gain a pound a month. And if you find you’re eating too few calories, you may be slowing your metabolism and exhausting yourself during your workout.

Reason: You see food as a reward.
Just because you went to the gym in the morning doesn’t mean you can have extra high-calorie foods later in the day.

Remedy: Focus on the benefits of exercise
Think about how great you feel after a workout – and move food out of your reward zone. Be sure you know how many calories you burn in your workouts, and how many are in the treats you’re eating. Soon you’ll see that the right foods can fuel your workouts, not undermine them.

Reason: You’re not working hard enough.
Our bodies adapt quickly to consistent exercise, becoming more efficient with activities we do regularly. In fact, once you’re used to doing “the same old thing,” you’re burning fewer calories than you did when you began.

Remedy: Push yourself.
Go beyond your fitness comfort zone by increasing the frequency, intensity, or duration of your workouts. Try to add an extra day of cardio, participate in a new group exercise class, take another lap around the track, or increase the incline and speed on the treadmill. Change is good and should be a challenge.

Reason: You’re working too hard.
It is possible to work out too often and too hard. If you go 110% in every workout or rarely miss a day, you could actually be breaking down your muscles instead of building them up. You’ll know if you’re overtraining if you always feel tired and sore, have unexplained headaches, trouble sleeping or simply lack the motivation and energy to complete your workouts.

Remedy:  Take time off and plan.
Start by taking three to five days off from exercise; your body needs time to rest and recover. Focus on getting plenty of sleep each night and eating nutritious foods. Create a workout plan to slowly ease back into your routine – and include shorter, less intense workouts and one to two rest days or light workout days in every week.

Reason: You’re doing too much too soon.
Getting in shape takes time and consistency. No matter how pumped up you are, you can’t change the laws of nature.

Remedy: Be patient with yourself and your routine.
You’re making lifestyle changes with the goal of a lifetime of improved health. Don’t be tempted by long, hard workouts; build up to tough workouts gradually and prevent injuries that will simply set you back again. Focus on changing your habits for good.

Reason: You’re not sleeping enough.
By not getting enough sleep you are hindering your weight loss: Sleep triggers a number of hormones that influence cravings and weight gain tendencies. A lot of recovery and muscle repair takes place during sleep too. Plus, sleepless nights will leave you tired and unfocused for your workouts. If you have signs of overtraining (see above), it may be due to a lack of sleep.

Remedy: Get more consistent nights of sleep.
Schedule both your sleep and your workouts, treating them as unbreakable appointments. Most trainers will tell you sleep should come first, even before working out.

Reason: You sit a lot.
Even if you work out regularly, the rest of the day matters too. A number of new studies say too much sitting can be bad for our health and our waistlines, even for those who exercise regularly.

Remedy:  Get moving.
Try to work more activity into your day by taking a walk after dinner, standing whenever possible, taking the stairs, parking your car further away and replacing TV time for more activity like playing with the kids, house or yard clean-up or playing with your dog. If you sit at work all day, set your calendar to remind you to stand up and stretch or walk for a few minutes every hour.

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