You’re working out regularly, eating a diet full of whole, unprocessed food, and not seeing any results! Uh, excuse us, but that’s not how this is supposed to work, is it? Well, not exactly. While plateaus are a part of every fitness routine, a lack of results is frustrating and can certainly be unmotivating. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to turn your progress around. We talked to Aaptiv trainers to find out reasons why you aren’t seeing results — and how to fix it.
1. You’re not eating enough. Exciting news for anyone who hates diets (AKA everyone!): Cutting calories won’t guarantee you see physical results. In fact, if you’re not seeing results despite following a workout routine and also maintaining a balanced healthy diet, it’s possible that you’re not eating enough, says Aaptiv trainer Kelly Chase. “You can restrict calories too much, to the point that the body goes into starvation mode and basically converts everything you ingest to fat,” she explains.
Of course, we can’t eat pizza and pasta for every meal if weight loss and muscular gains are the goals, but instead of simply cutting these foods from our diets, Chase recommends swapping them for something better. “Cutting out too many foods, especially of one major food group like carbs, may affect the metabolism in a negative way,” she says. “Instead, think about replacing the calories with healthier, nutrient-dense foods.” For example, swap your regular bowl of white pasta with quinoa, brown rice, or a lentil-based pasta.
2. You’re not eating often enough. If you typically eat three larger meals per day — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — try breaking it down into more frequent, smaller meals for a change of pace. “Eating gradually throughout the day can help ward off hunger and keep you satisfied,” says Aaptiv trainer Benjamin Green. “If you focus on whole foods and avoid processed snacks and ingredients, you’ll keep your body fueled consistently all day.
How often you eat throughout the day has to do with a number of factors, such as lifestyle, work hours, and basic personal preference. But, if you’re patiently waiting for physical results, switching up your meal times may help speed things along. Be wary of portion control as you make this change though. If you increase your meal frequency, be sure to decrease the amount you eat at each smaller meal.
3. You’re not counting small cheats. Personal accountability plays arguably the biggest role in any weight loss or fitness routine. So, it’s important to pay attention to every corner of your diet and be honest with yourself about things like portion sizes and small cheats. “You can eat a mostly healthy diet but sneak small pieces of chocolate or other processed snacks in here and there,” says Aaptiv trainer Jessica Muenster. “If you’re tracking your calories, be sure to log or count the small treats too, as they can add up in calories, sugars, and carbs that will get in the way of your progress.”
4. You’re drinking your calories. If you’re looking back on weeks of healthy eating with little physical progress and wondering what’s up, start paying closer attention to the drinks you’re ingesting. Drinking calories is one of the easiest ways to sabotage a clean diet and consistent fitness routine, explains Muenster. Beverages like skim milk and tonic water often seem healthy at first glance, but they actually contain more extra sugar and carbs than they’re worth. Be sure to read nutrition labels on your favorite drinks thoroughly so you can make informed choices and adjust in other areas of your diet when necessary.
5. You’re doing the same workout all the time. Trust us: We love cardio machines and we know it’s easy to fall into a comfortable routine. But both Green and Chase agree that switching up your workouts is critical to progress. “It’s totally fine to run at a certain pace for 30 minutes a day for a few days in a row,” says Green. “That will get you to one benchmark.” As you improve, though, he suggests trying something new. “Add in HIIT training and other types of running intervals to challenge your body in a new way and reach new benchmarks or goals.”
Chase seconds that recommendation, saying, “It’s so important to try different workouts to keep the muscles confused. Start mixing it up with a variety of different workouts — even different cardio machines — to work new and different muscles regularly.”
The same is true for strength training workouts. “If you’re not seeing results, try lifting heavier weights,” says Chase. She recommends gradually increasing the weight by two pounds until you find a level that’s challenging but possible for you. As you increase the weight, you can also try decreasing the number of reps you do. “If you’re lifting a 10-pound weight, go to 12. Then, instead of doing three sets of 15, do three sets of 10,” she suggests.
Plateaus and little progress are frustrating but necessary parts of a wellness routine. With a few easy swaps and switches, you’ll start seeing the results you’re working for.
(Photos via Getty)