We all want to feel comfortable and confident in our own skin. This isn't about focusing on perfection. It's about figuring out what you need to do to feel your absolute best. I personally have no shame in admitting I want to feel and look good naked! These thoughts don't stem from an ego place but from a place of deep love and gratitude for my body. It does so much for me that I want to feed it, physically and mentally, the best way I can.
As a holistic nutritionist, I know that the pressure to look perfect intensifies at this time of year. Going to the beach is about having fun but too often comes with anxiety about how we look, and we compare ourselves to others. If you’re happy, relaxed, and full of energy; have good digestion, a powerful immune system, and gleaming skin, how important is it to have a stomach as flat as a pancake?
If you're doing everything right in terms of food, nutrition, quantity, quality, exercise, and activity, but the body and mind are stressed, you're throwing off your hard efforts to lose weight. The body is intelligent, and there's so much we can't control, including hormones, which often dictate how good you feel and look. The good news is that there's a lot we can control. Here are some mistakes that might be keeping you from looking and feeling your best and exactly how to fix them:
1. The mostly liquid crash diet.
If you're on a juice cleanse, or drinking mostly juice, you're missing out on essential nutrients like protein and essential fats. Your metabolism will slow down and you’ll feel tired, your immune system will tank, plus you’ll be more prone to weight gain when you go back to eating normally. Lack of calories disrupts your blood sugar balance, causing extreme mood disturbances and, essentially, weight gain.
Also, if the juices are fruit-based rather than vegetable-based, you’ll be raising your blood sugar levels dramatically, which causes inflammation and weight gain.
The fix: Reduce simple, processed carbohydrates like sugar. Our bodies are meant to be fed during the day! This can be a tough block to move past mentally. Unfortunately, I see this quite a bit, but do not fear. It is possible to break this habit with time and healing. Our bodies are miraculous, and they truly want us to thrive, be happy, and be in peak condition.
Carbohydrates raise your insulin levels. Insulin is one of the hormones that tells your body to store fat, so reducing your insulin levels can be very helpful in getting balanced hormones and reducing body fat. Cutting down on carbohydrates like sugar, wheat, gluten, and other simple carbohydrates will help you achieve this.
2. The cardio blitz.
Running and other cardio workouts are great for overall fitness, but engaging in excessive cardio will only wreak havoc later down the line as it creates inflammation in the body. You'll also be a lot hungrier and will have to eat more, which sometimes is hard to navigate. You could be eating too little for the amount you're working out, or you could be overeating because you think you need a lot more than you actually do to replenish and nourish your body.
Overdoing it on cardio also increases your stress hormones, including cortisol, which puts you at greater risk for health issues like poor sleep, IBS, depression, and visceral fat. Cortisol is one of the hormones that dictates fat storage. We need it in small amounts, but once it goes up, it begins to disrupt your body's natural processes. No matter how clean and healthy we eat, we will start to store weight in places where we're genetically predisposed to.
The fix: Take a deep breath. Do things that you love to do because you love them. Yoga, dancing, team sports, walking, taking a class, spinning, whatever it may be, they all count! If you exercise in a way that's sustainable and choose to do things you love, you will be happier, more love-filled, and your body will settle into its happy weight, aka your best body.
3. Too many crunches.
Having core strength is important in overall health, but if you overdo the crunches, you’re actually developing a layer of muscle on your abdomen instead of reducing your waistline.
The fix: Workouts that involve circuits of short bursts of cardio such as skipping or jumping, alongside working the large muscle groups with exercises such as squats and lunges, are a great way to start attacking your fat stores without depleting your body and causing stress as running long distances can.