Ever heard of David Smith? It’s kind of hard to watch his rise and fall as the 650-pound virgin.
At his heaviest, he was morbidly obese and had all the health problems to go with it. You might even find it hard to imagine how much junk food he ate on a daily basis.
But he wanted to change. He wanted a chance at a normal life. And he knew self-sabotaging behaviors were standing in his way.
So after too many starts-and-stops to count, he got help to change his diet, start exercising, and ultimately lose 400 pounds in about two years.
Sounds pretty good, right?
Well, that’s only half the story.
Not long after that, he reached a tipping point in his weight loss journey. He stopped exercising. He started using drugs and alcohol to cope with trauma from the past. Then he returned to eating massive amounts of food.
And just like that, he was up 300 pounds and still gaining.
- Are you sabotaging your results?
- Are you doing something to minimize all your hard work in the gym?
- Are your clean-eating habits cancelled out by late-night cravings?
- Ever feel like something is holding you back from losing those last five pounds, setting a PR, or reaching your body fat goal?
David Smith may be an extreme example of self-sabotage (fortunately, he’s back on track with his weight loss goals).
But if you’re struggling to shred fat, lose weight, build muscle, or get stronger, maybe you’re sabotaging your results. After all, even little mistakes can add up over time.
Need a little help to get back on track? Here are 10 signs you’re sabotaging your results and how to stop.
1. Overeating. You guesstimate how many calories are in that burger-and-fries combo for lunch, and top off a chicken-and-vegetables dinner with ice cream or alcohol. Try and diet this way, and you’re probably overeating and consuming too many calories. Your weight doesn’t budge, or you tip the scale in the wrong direction.
Fix it: Find out how many calories you need to eat per day (along with macronutrient ratios: protein, fats, carbs). Then weigh your food, prep all your meals, and track everything you eat.
2. Undereating. You’re trying to lose weight and lower body fat, so you go long periods without eating and frequently skip meals. You’re not eating enough calories and your metabolism goes into survival mode to store fat.
Fix it: Eat more food, more often. It’s counterintuitive, especially if you’re new to dieting. But if you want to make gains, you need to feed your body enough calories and macronutrients to fuel metabolism, muscle repair, and growth.
3. Lack of Intensity. You enjoy going to the gym to socialize. And you happen to fit in some reps and sets in between talking about the final episode of The Bachelor, your favorite sports teams, or the new restaurant in town. Hate to break it to you, but if this is you, you’re not working hard enough.
Fix it: Level up intensity. If you need to minimize distractions when you’re at the gym to workout, wear headphones to keep talkers away. Focus on getting your workout done. Move from one exercise to the next. And use a timer to make sure rest between sets stays within 60 to 90 seconds to keep your heart rate elevated and burn more calories.
4. Easy Does It. You enjoy lifting, but shy away from pushing the limits. You complete a set of 8 to 12 reps, but it’s hardly a struggle. That makes it hard to stimulate growth.
Fix it: Pick a weight you can handle for only 8 to 12 reps (the rep range for hypertrophy). You want to fatigue the muscle, so that the last couple reps in a set are hard to complete.
5. Poor Hydration. How much water did you drink today? If you don’t know, chances are pretty good you’re not drinking enough. Dehydration slows metabolism, contributes to muscle tightness, and prolongs recovery time.
Fix it: Drink 3 to 4 liters of water per day. Maybe more if you live in a hot climate. Track your water intake with a mobile app, on a calendar, or by using a measured container.
6. Drinking Calories. You think a few drinks won’t make a big difference. Soda, beer, wine, energy drinks. If they’re not sugar-free, calorie-free, or low-calorie, you’re probably chugging too many extra calories.
Fix it. Read tip No. 5. Drink more water. It’s usually free and contains zero calories.
7. Lack of Sleep. How many hours of sleep a night are you getting? If you think you can get by on a little sleep plus energy drinks or coffee, you’re self-sabotaging. You need 7 to 8 hours of sleep to support muscle growth, repair, and recovery between workouts.
Fix it: Consider sleep part of your training plan. Create a bedtime routine. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
8. No Rest Days. You enjoy training and lifting weights so much that you never take a rest day. Even when you feel fatigued, you still force yourself to train hard.
Fix it: One or two rest days a week, where you don’t do any heavy lifting, and cardio is minimal, is good for recovery and making gains. At the end of a hard training cycle, even a deload week of little to no activity can help. Make a rest day part of your training plan
9. Inconsistency. You’re gung-ho about training, dieting and getting results for a few days or a week. Then your drive fizzles out. You skip workouts, and your diet goes off the rails. Then you get back on track.
Fix it: It starts with self-discipline. But creating accountability with a training partner, or getting help inside my private Facebook group can help too.
10. Same Old Workout. Same stuff. Different day. If your workout never changes, eventually your body will learn to adapt, and you’ll stop making gains.
Fix it: Make simple changes to your workout from week to week. Lift heavier. Complete extra reps. Add a set. Swap barbells for dumbbells. And give your workout routine a complete overhaul every 4 to 8 weeks.
Looking for a training and nutrition plan to help you progress? Start here.