This article was originally published on February 8, 2017.
Have you been working out and not noticing any changes in your body? Whether your goal is to gain muscle or lose weight, it can be very frustrating when your body does not respond even though you feel like you are doing everything right. In some cases, progress might be made in a short amount of time, but then months will pass with no changes at all. Plateaus are normal, but they can also be a sign that it’s time to reevaluate your whole approach to achieving your dream body. My clients that are the most successful in reaching their body goals are those that understand it isn’t just about the time they spend in my class or on a treadmill. It’s about an entire lifestyle and mindset change. Here are 4 things you must do besides working out to achieve your dream body.
- Cut the sugar. Of all the diet fads out there, I have discovered that cutting your sugar intake makes the most difference. Eliminating desserts isn’t enough. Processed food, starches, fruit juices, and alcohol are all sources of sugar you need to be aware of. Reducing your overall sugar intake will make a huge difference in your weight, muscle definition, and energy levels. We all need a certain amount of naturally occurring sugar to keep our glucose levels normal, but in most American diets, our food contains an unhealthy amount of sugar. Too much sugar creates inflammation, weight gain, brain fog, fatigue, and a multitude of other health problems that many people don’t even realize are coming from their high-sugar diet. Eat whole foods low on the glycemic index to create sustained energy throughout the day. You will notice excess bloating and weight melt away, muscles start to pop, and energy increase.
- Ration your Willpower– Research psychologist, Roy F. Baumeister, reveals that our willpower is limited, and it’s like a muscle that needs to be exercised to get stronger. After a stressful workday or a fight with our spouse, we have a harder time showing up to our gym session or resisting that late-night sugar craving. That’s because our willpower reserves have already been used up. When working towards your dream body, understand that you have limits, and don’t spread yourself too thin. If you have a million things to do in a day, the chances you’ll make a nighttime workout appointment or cook a healthy dinner at home are slim. Instead, plan your workout for the morning, prep your dinner the night before, or re-evaluate your to-do list, and create space for yourself to reach your goals. Rationing our willpower means knowing how to structure our day and lives accordingly based on what requires the most attention.
- Get Enough Sleep– Our bodies need 7-8 hours of sleep at night to recover, rebuild, and reset. If you’re trying to build muscle mass, sleep time is the only time your muscles have to truly rest, repair, and grow. If you’re trying to lose weight, sleep deprivation is detrimental to your progress. Not getting enough sleep causes a spike in cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone that will signal your body to hang onto fat. Your metabolism will also be affected as your body loses its ability to process fats from your bloodstream. Sleep deprivation has been proven to have the same effect on the brain as being drunk. You will have less willpower, impulse control, and mental clarity to make good decisions. Make sure to get at least 7 hours a sleep every night. Try these calming stretches for a good night’s sleep.
- Practice Self-Love– Achieving your dream body isn’t just a physical journey. It’s a mental, emotional and spiritual journey as well. Loving yourself means always doing what’s best for your health and well-being. When we don’t love ourselves, we tend to be self-sabotaging. Reciting daily affirmations, meditating, and connecting with supportive and positive people are all ways we can practice self-love daily. One of my favorite mantras is, “May I be willing to experience the world wishing me peace and happiness.” That helps me to accept good things when they come my way and feel deserving of being the best I can be in my body, my relationships, and my jobs. Self-love will give you the strength to set and maintain healthy boundaries and respect and appreciate your body at any stage.
Beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes. Whatever your body type is, the most important goal that everyone should have is to attain optimal health and well-being for themselves. Tune into what your body is trying to tell you. How you feel is so important in the process. Our bodies have an innate intelligence and desire to function optimally. We just have to listen to it.
Have you tried any of these tips for achieving your dream body?
Also by Crystal: How I Learned to Breathe After I Stopped Dancing
Related: How to Cure Junk Food Cravings the Healthy Way
What’s Your Dosha? Discover and Balance Your Mind-Body Type
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Photo: Crystal Chin