Have you tried to reach a certain body composition, performance or health goal but fallen short?
In this article, I will share the 5 things that may be keeping you from reaching these goals.
- Physical Activity
Once you can identify your limiting factors(s), you are one step closer to your goals!
Have you felt like you have that gene that prohibits your body from burning body fat? Yea, sometimes I feel that way too (and then I remember the Yogurtland sundae I had the night before).
We all have genetic limitations. For instance, I don’t think I will ever develop Scarlett Johanssen’s body or go head-to-head with Usain Bolt on the track. It is literally not in my DNA. As much as you may want to be the quarterback of your favorite NFL team, it may be time to accept it’s not in the cards for you (unless some young college football stud is reading this post – in which case, keep the dream alive!).
While we may not have the genetics to reach the upper limit of human performance, genetics are usually not a big factor in improving our body composition, performance, and health. The team at Precision Nutrition has found that “out of the thousands of people we’ve worked with over the years, we can’t remember a single one that couldn’t improve in some very significant ways, despite their genetics.”
There is a lot of interesting research in nutrigenomics that may reveal small changes each of us can make based upon our genes to improve our health (stay tuned for more information on this), but generally speaking, genetics is not a big limiting factor to reaching your goals. So, what else could it be?
Think your physical activity is holding you back? Possibly. If you find yourself sitting around at work all day and not doing any intentional activity outside of work, you are most likely experiencing metabolic decline, fat gain, muscle loss, and potentially other lifestyle-related disease.
Those who take 10,000 steps a day are considered active (under 5,000 is sedentary) and generally have lower body fat and improved health. Mix this in with some high intensity exercise and you’re well on your way to good health.
However, don’t go killing yourself doing hours of exercise to make up for a poor diet. As studies have begun to show, exercise may not be the top limiting factor to you reaching your goals.
One study examined overweight participants who were either assigned to a control group for 16 weeks (where they didn’t exercise at all) or an exercise group for 16 weeks (where they exercised for three hours per week, performing strength exercise with an Olympic weightlifting coach, and two hours per week, performing circuit training with a group exercise instructor).
Data was collected on body composition and other measures and while the exercise group did get better results, they were rather unimpressive.
Control group: Gained 1 lb lean mass, Lost 0.5 lb fat, lost 0.5% body fat
Exercise group: Gained 3 lb lean mass, Lost 2 lb fat, lost 1.5% body fat
If body composition change is your goal, would you be happy with 2 lbs of fat lost in 4 months? Probably not.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we all need to exercise for a host of other reasons. But, if body composition change is a big goal of yours, we will need to look at other limiting factors.
TIP: Looking to add more steps to your day? While you’ve probably heard the recommendations of taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in the last parking spot, I recommend adding a morning and/or evening walk to the mix. There is something very peaceful and meditative to morning walks – you can use the time to reflect on what you are most grateful for to start the day off on a good foot. Also, throw in a quick walk, 15 or so minutes, after dinner – studies have shown it can help with lowering the glycemic effect of your food and improve gastric emptying.
I love to track my steps with my Fitbit – a worthy investment if you want to see how much you are actually moving.
There are some very real physiological imbalances that may be holding you back from reaching your goals. Things like thyroid hormone imbalance, gastrointestinal dysfunction, and sex hormone imbalances can impede weight loss, muscle gain, and performance.
If you suspect you have any of these, I recommend you see a physician. There are also some awesome at-home tests that you can order through WellnessFX. The Baseline is a great place to start, but there are several other options based on your needs. (I’ll be doing a post on this soon). And, you can have a consultation with a health professional through WellnessFX or bring your results to a doctor.
One of my favorite quotes by Tony Robbins is:
“Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is only potential power. Action is power.”
Do you feel that you have all of the knowledge around exercise and nutrition but you just can’t seem to put it into action? It may take evaluating your mindset to make positive change.
The most important limiting factor is almost always nutrition – whether your goal is to gain muscle, lose fat, improve performance, or improve health.
What can good nutrition do?
- Feeds muscle and helps shed fat
- Improve nearly every measurable health marker
- Improve recovery and mood
- Get the body you never thought you could have
Next week, I will release the four important criteria for good nutrition.
What do you feel is your biggest limiting factor keeping you from reaching your health, body composition or performance goals?