You've bought your program. You are pressing play every day, and yet you aren't seeing results. Read on to find out what you might be doing wrong!
1. Doing Your Workout Program and Not Following the Diet Guide
Number 1 P90X question - "Do I have to follow the diet guide to see my results?" The answer we all don't want to hear - "YES!!" Not to dwell on Ultimate Reset again, but I learned first hand that you can workout to look good and tone up, but to really get healthy and TRANSFORM your body, diet is key. When you spend the money to invest in your workout program, whether it's TurboFire, P90X, Asylum, ChaLEAN, or really any program, your dollars are not just going to the DVD's - you get a comprehensive diet guide with a calorie-specific plan and recipes that support the diet. If you don't follow the diet guide, you are wasting your money, because you paid for it. Most of the time they make it easy and customizeable, you just have to do the prep work!
One of the struggles we have with diet and working out is the fact that after you work out, you are usually hungrier later in the day. That makes sense, if you burn calories you get to eat more calories right? Well...yes and no. When you workout you need to fuel your body more to support your physical activity. But many calorie counters including MyFitnessPal make it seem that by working out you "earn" calories of food, as in the calories you eat later are a "food reward." Hopefully you've seen the internet meme "Don't reward yourself with food, you are not a dog." Enough said right? If you follow the diet plan associated with your program, or even follow 80% of it, you will be fueling your workouts and eating the right amount and proportions of macronutrients to achieve your goals. Don't just workout so you can eat whatever you want!
2. Starvation Diets
The number one misconception with weight loss is that the only aspect that controls fat burning is "calories in - calories out." If it were that easy, you could just eat less and lose weight, no questions asked. The truth is, your body is an extremely complex machine and while a pound of fat does "cost" 3,500 calories in terms of the amount of energy held within said pound of fat, it's not as simple as creating a 3,500 calorie deficit and - voila! - a pound is gone. While calorie counting is the foundation of what you need to do, if you cut your calories too low, your body thinks you are starving it and it will hold onto that fat for dear life since it is your long-term survival energy source, and it will opt to burn muscle and connective tissue instead. Likewise, if you eat to maintain weight by balancing calories in and out, you might still have good results in increasing your lean mass and burning fat. Everyone is a little different, so there is no one solution, but the one thing that is certain for everyone is that a starvation diet is bad news.
So what is considered a starvation diet? I would say a diet that makes you cut more than 1,000 calories a day off your balance, i.e. ending your day at (-1000) calories or more. A 150 pound, 35 year old woman burns between 1,500 and 2,000 calories a day from daily life before even working out (men - add about 100 calories. Women or men, add or subtract about 100 calories for every 25 pounds +/- 150). Knowing that, if this woman is eating 500-1000 calories total, she is on a starvation diet. Even something like 1200 might be considered a form of a starvation diet. If she were working out, a level like 1500 might still kick her into starvation.
Worst of all, she is turning her body into a fat storing machine. You can't stay on a starvation or borderline starvation diet for too long, and when you bounce back and start eating "normal" your body will be like "YES! FOODDDD!!!!" and store it directly as fat.
So bottom line - eating smart - good! not eating - bad! You can control portions without falling into a starvation diet. Stop eating dessert, stop drinking soda, stop snacking between meals, stop eating sugary foods and white breads, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and quality lean protein!
3. Pressing Play, but Not Bringing It
I talked about this in another recent email, but you can't get a great workout by watching the DVD and hoping to get your sweat on by some kind of digital osmosis. Your hour a day to workout needs to be your time to focus and dedicate yourself to doing the very best you can. Your effort and use of good form are both directly related to your results - it doesn't take a genius to figure this out, yet we all - myself included - need to be reminded of this. The one downfall of DVD's is that nobody is really watching you; even though it seems like Shaun T is in the room with you, he isn't. You have to hold yourself accountable and have a no regrets attitude!
It's all about engaging mentally. Your mind will tell you you can't do it, when your body will tell you you can. Listen to your body, not the bad voice in your head. Keep going, and you won't regret it.
4. Super Low-Carb Diets
First off, low carb diets work. Until you get off of them.
The concept of a low carb diet is sound. Particularly when you ingest sugary carbs, or "white" carbs, your body's insulin response causes you to store food as fat more readily. It is clear that these types of carbs are more of a culprit of the obesity epidemic in the U.S. than the old nemesis - fats. But most people don't realize that in order for your body to metabolize fat properly, you need a significant amount of stored up carbs in your system. When you cut out the carbs completely, these stores are depleted in a matter of days as are the water molecules that hold them together. The result is you release a lot of water and burn up most of your muscles' and liver's carb stores in the first week of an Atkin's type diet and get really excited when the scale reads you lost about 8 pounds, yet little of this is fat at first.
Without the proper amount of carbs in your body, you will begin to process fat through the process of ketosis, which uses acidic bodies called ketones to metabolize fat instead of carbs. An abundance of ketones in your body causes a lot of stress on your kidneys and can even lead to organ failure if you keep it up for a long time. Without proper carb intake, most people experience major mood swings, lethargy, and suffering in performance when working out.
I want you to know when I did Ultimate Reset, I ate TONS of carbs. But - they were all in the form of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These are considered low-glycemic carbs because the insulin response is much more gradual and controlled than when you ingest sugar or white bread. So instead of a low-carb diet, I suggest a low glycemic diet.
The biggest problem with a low-carb diet is that as soon as you get off it, you are in deep trouble. You will gain your weight back in a split second, so unless you can make a conscious effort to keep off for the long haul, you might be setting yourself up for failure down the road. Another pitfall of Atkin's in particular is the sort of carte-blanche that is given to all proteins and fats, including red meat, oils, butter, cheese and egg yolks. Heart disease is still one of the largest sources of preventable deaths in the U.S., and a diet that encourages the consumption of saturated animal fats is not good for a long period of time.
If you are working out regularly, I highly discourage you from any type of low-carb diet unless it is a simple low glycemic diet (Atkin's Phase I has you at about 20g of carbs only from vegetables per day). If you are living a fairly sedentary lifestyle, a restricted carb diet can be good for you, but I'd rather have you check out a Primal/Paleo diet that still provides carbs, but no grains and refined sugar. Limiting your carbs can be a good thing, as many people have an allergy to gluten, and by lowering intake of ALL carbs you are also limiting the amount of high-glycemic carbs naturally. Just know, there is a reason athletes eat 65% of their calories from carbs in order to attain a lean, toned physique and perform at a high level - you need carbs for survival. For athletes, carbs are the best legal performance enhancing substance out there!
5. Not Trusting in Your Program
When you buy a new workout DVD, I encourage you to give it your all, and follow it to the T, as best you can. In other words, trust your program. That means, go all the way in and don't create a hybrid with another program your first time through, but rather try your program as it was originally designed. Beachbody takes a long time creating the workout schedules and there is a lot of thought as to when your rest day is, when certain muscle groups are accessed, etc. You can never learn your strengths and weakness enough to effectively create a hybrid schedule without experiencing the entire program first. Of course it's fun to cross-breed the programs, but know that for the most part Beachbody isn't designing these programs to be hybridized (although several newer ones have hybrid schedules included), but rather are interested in cross-selling. So bottom line - buy a program, commit to a program, then when you know your strengths and weaknesses, make a judgment call on how you want to continue your program or combine it with another.
Trusting your program also means not quitting after 30 days if you don't see results. Many of these programs work on a concept of "muscle confusion" of some sort, which means that you don't really kick into gear until you progress to a new phase of workouts. Getting frustrated and quitting is the only way to guarantee you won't see results! Stick with it, and know that even after one full round you may need to go back and do a second round. Most of the infomercial-worthy transformations you see are people that have done P90X, or whatnot, several times over!
So - words to live by. 1) Follow the Diet Guide, 2) Eat Enough, 3) Bring it, 4) Enjoy Healthy Carbs, and 5) Trust Your Program!!