The question: “I’ve Been Dieting and Exercising—So Why Haven’t I Lost Weight?”
The expert: Lisa Young, Ph.D., R.D., author of The Portion Teller Plan
The answer: Most likely, you’re overestimating how much you’re dieting and exercising. “Generally speaking, when people are dieting and exercising but not seeing results, it’s because they think they’re being more virtuous than they really are—and over-rewarding themselves as a result,” says Young.
Let’s start with your diet. “Many people eat bigger portion sizes than they think, and they also forget to take mindless grazing into account—both of which put them over their estimated calorie limit,” says Young. Her suggestion? Keep a food diary, either on paper or with an app. Documenting and therefore noticing every last morsel of food that you take in throughout the day will help you keep yourself accountable (and remind you that yes, food still has calories even if you eat it while standing up over the sink).
Your exercise routine could be equally misleading for two reasons. The first? You're not working out as much as you think you are. Ask yourself: When you go to the gym, are you spending the whole time on the machines? Or, when you really stop to think about it, are you spending a hefty chunk of time thinking about getting on the elliptical, choosing which magazine to read, chatting with your friends on the mats, etc. If you’re guilty of one (or all) of the above, consider investing in a pedometer so you have documented evidence about how much you’re actually exercising, says Young.
The last reason you could be at a weight-loss standstill is that you’re repeating the same workout routine over and over again. “Your body will reach a plateau if you do that, and you’re not going to see results,” says Young—so it’s really important to vary it up. Strength training is also clutch. “It helps increase lean body mass so you’re more likely to reach your weight-loss goals.”
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