You want to add 10 pounds of lean muscle, or lose that extra 15 pounds, but can’t seem to make any progress. You try to eat right and exercise, but nothing seems to work. You’ve tried everything you can think of, yet there’s little, if any, progress to be had.
You become confused and discouraged and wonder if you should even try to keep going.
What should you do?
Let me approach this question in a different way by stating it may be due to your perspective on things that lead to the actions you’re taking to gain that muscle or lose that weight.
In the world of health and fitness, not everything is black and white and often times, it’s a whole lot of gray.
What does this mean?
It means there’s no one-true or concrete way to be healthy and in the shape you want. If it was, we would all look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime and be jacked. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way and is far from easy to attain.
The reason why you may not be seeing the results you want, whether it’s to add pounds of muscle, or lose those extra pounds for summer, is because there is no one clear path to achieve it.
Many of us often read the headlines and snapshot stories from our favorite celebrities saying, “Chris Pratt got ripped. Find out how you can too by clicking here!” (On a side I note I love Chris Pratt and I think he’s awesome. He’s just the first thing that popped up in my mind!)
You can see these headlines all the time, especially if you scroll through social media on Twitter or Facebook. You read the story and it usually goes something like this: They followed this program or did this one thing and it caused them to gain muscle or lose weight. End of story!
Well, let’s hold on for a moment. It may be true they did that thing, but is that the whole story?
I think not. That’s not the whole story and that snippet of what they did to lose weight is not the answer to what happened. It may be part of the answer, but far from the whole. It’s because losing weight or adding muscle is such a complex thing, that it depends on soooo many variables to actually achieve.
For instance, your age, height, body type, genetics, environment, and many more factors play a role into whether you’re losing weight, adding muscle, and whatever else you’re trying to achieve. If you’re in your mid 40’s, or even late 30’s, for example, and you can’t seem to lose weight, maybe it’s because there’s something else involved stopping your efforts. Maybe you’re just completely stressed all the time causing a “new normal” for you. This makes your hormones go crazy, especially cortisol, and we often overlook on what it does to us.
When we get stressed our bodies release the hormone cortisol (think of the flight or fight response) and it does some good things, like making us to be more focused and energized, but it also plays a significant role in preventing fat loss and muscle gain.
It’s because it’s a physiological response that goes back to our early ancestor days as hunter-gatherers. Back then food was scarce and we needed fat for survival because there wasn’t a McDonald’s around the corner if we went across the savanna and got hungry. Cortisol is a survival mechanism passed down through centuries, and still ingrained in us today, to save as much fat as we can by relying mostly on breaking down glycogen stores — our muscles — for energy.
Have you thought about that before?
Maybe, and maybe not, but what’s important is that there’s more to weight-loss or muscle gain than how much you exercise and diet, even though they are the “meat and potatoes” of losing weight and adding muscle (the 20% that gives you 80% of the results).
Once our results start to plateau we have to dig deeper into issues that may be affecting us that aren’t as apparent, like how much we exercise or how healthy we eat, that can determine if we’re moving closer or further away from our health and fitness goals we have for ourselves. Our stress levels, hormone functionality, gut health, state-of-mind, and maybe most importantly, the consistency and strength of our efforts, all play a very significant part in our ability to lose and maintain weight, in addition to building muscle and getting a fit body.
That’s why if you ask “how do I lose weight and build muscle?”, you’ll get a thousand different answers and most will probably be right in their own way. Almost all will have some overlap and similarity, but there will also be great deviation from each other. One diet answer may say a ketogenic or paleo diet is best, while another will say a slow-carb diet will work wonders. Both are right, but it just depends, and it depends on you.
We’re all different, so why do we expect one clear-cut method or way to build lean muscle and shed the fat? It makes no sense to me, so try and understand that the next time you ask yourself, “why am I not losing weight or building muscle?”
So, what are your thoughts on this black and white thinking for health and fitness? Do you think it’s even an issue? Tell me by leaving a comment down below because I want to know!
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Until next time, be strong and be you.