Whether it’s losing fat or building muscle, we all know diet and exercise is a major driver in achieving your goals. They are the big rocks when it comes to seeing progress. Don’t follow those consistently, don’t see results. But what happens when you *do* follow them and still don’t see progress? What you might not realize is there are hidden factors killing your progress.
These factors have nothing to do with exercise or nutrition. In today’s post I’m going to dive into what some of the hidden factors killing your progress are, why they are important, and how you start to overcome them.
I like to call sleep the unsung hero of any fitness & nutrition journey no matter what your goals are.
You may not realize this, but sleep is important for several reasons. It isn’t just something you do when you’re tired. Unfortunately here in America we pride ourselves on who can work the hardest, longest hours. Some of us even wear our lack of sleep like a badge of honor.
“I only got 5 hours of sleep, but I accomplished a hell of a lot today!”
Newsflash: if you want to see progress in the gym you need to start getting more sleep.
Sleep is imperative to help build and repair our bodies, lower our stress hormones, and have enough energy to function throughout the day. You can’t really get much accomplished when you are constantly running on empty.
Not to mention, lack of sleep generally plays into a poor diet. When you’re tired you usually don’t feel like cooking and opt for the most convenient food possible. This could be fast food or something highly processed that you simply just microwave. Either way, it ends up being a massive calorie bomb with minimal nutritional value throwing your diet for a loop.
On the exercise side, sleep is needed to repair our bodies. Adequate rest is required not just so we can replenish our energy levels, but also get those muscles repaired. A lot of the magic of muscle building/preservation is done when our eyes are closed and our mind is dreaming. Do not underestimate the power of a goodnight’s sleep.
The sweet spot for sleep is around 7-9 hours of restful sleep per night. The easiest way to ensure you get that number? Determine what time you need to wake up, count back 9 hours, make sure you’re in bed by that time. Best case scenario is you fall asleep right away and get 8-9 hours of sleep. Worst case is it takes you a little while to fall asleep and you end up getting 7-8 hours.
Other helpful factors:
Unbeknown to most, stress is another huge factor that could be killing your progress. There are good stressors and bad stressors.
Good stressors include things like starting a new job, buying a house, marriage, and yes, exercise. These stressors tend to be short term and, while stressful, are also exciting.
Bad stressors are things like unemployment, money issues, dealing with a death, having sleep issues, and health issues. These are the types of stressors that can cause anxiety, decrease performance, and can be either short or long term.
When you hang on to too much stress, your body reflects that. You may have that stress manifest in physical ways such as stomach aches, headaches, and more. An increase in stress also causes an increase in our levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can in stimulate your appetite. That’s no bueno especially if you’re trying to shed those unwanted pounds.
How can you begin to lower your stress levels?
The thoughts you’re thinking have a ton to do with how you progress. Being in a constant negative mindset is one of the hidden factors killing your progress not just in the gym, but in life. You may not realize it, but the more you speak or think negatively about yourself, the more we’re telling our unconscious self that you aren’t good enough.
Telling yourself that you aren’t good enough or “can’t” do something will ultimately result in you not doing it. Self-sabotage is sadly all too common, especially when it comes to fitness & nutrition. One of the major reasons we do this? Comparison (which is the thief of joy in case you’ve never heard that saying). How often have you found yourself saying things like:
“I can never be as ripped as that guy!”
“I’ll never be strong.”
“There’s no way I can limit my portion sizes.”
“Maybe I’m not meant to be successful.”
So on and so forth…
Guess what? By saying those things, you are forever convincing yourself that you won’t achieve your best. STOP. IT! I know negative self-talk is hard to stop seeing as how we are our own worst critics (myself included), but you don’t stand a fighting chance if you can’t start to think positively. How can you do that? Here are some suggestions:
I know you love your friends, but are they good for you? Do your friends support the things you want to do or do they try to tear you down? You can ask the same question about your family members.
If you’ve got toxic people in your life, CUT THEM OUT. They are doing you no favors and likely affecting you way more than you realize. I know it’s scary to think about the possibility of losing close friends and family, but you will be better off in the long run. You want people by your side that will cheer you on and support you no matter what your goals are.
It’s hard to accomplish things when the people around you would prefer to see you fail, even if they never say it to your face. Why allow yourself to get railroaded by other people? You deserve better than that!
How can you shape your environment for the better?
I promise if you start addressing each of these areas, your life in and out of the gym will begin to improve. You’ll start seeing progress, you’ll feel more refreshing, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll ultimately end up happier and healthier.