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4 Common Reasons Why You Fall Short With Your Weight Loss Goals (And What You Should Do Instead)

4 Common Reasons Why You Fall Short With Your Weight Loss Goals (And What You Should Do Instead)

The concept of losing weight is simple in theory, but once you combine fitness with the everyday events of our lives—it becomes difficult. Achieving your fitness goals doesn’t require you to abide by a laundry list of rules, but there are a few key principles that serve as the pulse to your success. Before we carry on, remove the typical reasons that many fitness articles and gurus will tell you why you’re not succeeding such as “you’re not working hard enough”, “you need to eat less and move more”, or “you need to try The Blood Type Diet.”

None of these reasons is the solution to your struggles. There are a million fitness articles in existence on the internet–most of them unfortunately, cause more confusion than clarity. Instead of trying to fit yourself into some cookie cutter plan or something that isn’t conducive to your desired lifestyle—take a step back and assess what plan actually works for you in the long term. Here’s the secret that marketers don’t want you to know—most fitness plans work and will lead you to the same destination.

It’s not your genetics, effort, nor knowledge that is holding you back from accomplishing your fitness goals—it’s the lack of attention to the small details. Here are 4 of the most common reasons why you’re falling short with your weight loss goals and what you should do instead.

1. Lack of Preparation

Problem: It’s not sexy and it can’t be decorated to make it more appealing, but preparation is an absolute must. Preparation equals you being organized, under control and helps you to potentially forecast unforeseen obstacles down the road. You schedule in doctor appointments, Friday night Tinder dates, important business lunch meetings, early morning work meetings, and your kids’ baseball games—so why not fitness?

When it comes to succeeding in fitness, at the beginning, your main objective is to knock down the big dominoes. What actions and decisions can make the biggest impact to succeeding with your weight loss goals?

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Solution: Front load your work.

Here is a scenario: Your financial advisor advises you to set aside accounts for your retirement, unforeseen accidents, and dumb mistakes (ok maybe that’s just me). Your advisor is helping you to front-load your work. When you front-load your work, you’re attempting to predict future events that could prevent you from accomplishing your goals. While you can’t predict all future events, you can forecast a couple of scenarios that could derail your fitness goals.

If healthy eating with your busy schedule is a problem, then by front-loading your work, you’re able to effectively prepare for this problem. Knowing this problem, you can have a meal replacement shake or prepared meals in advance so you aren’t tempted to binge eat on the office snacks. Before setting foot in the gym, purging your fridge, or declaring a commitment to “clean eating”—pause and take a step back and front load your work.

2. You’re following someone else’s diet

Problem: Your co-worker lost weight by following the Paleo diet and going to CrossFit multiple times a week. Naturally, you’re inclined to think this is what you must do to lose weight.

However, the beautiful and comforting fact about weight loss is that there are multiple routes to reaching the same destination.

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Solution: Choose a path that specifically works for you

To get from New York City to LA, there are multiple options to get us to our desired destination.

We have trains, cars, planes, helicopters, bikes, and even walking (for the extreme hardcore individual). Besides the different methods of transportation, you have a plethora of routes that can get you there. Some may take longer and won’t be as ideal, but nevertheless you still have the option to do so.

Your methods and routes to losing weight operate under the same philosophy. To lose weight, the most important goal is to be in a caloric deficit (i.e. expend more calories than you consume). After that fundamental concept is established, you have a plethora of options to reach that goal.

Paleo is effective, but so is a Mediterranean diet or even an island style diet that is more carbohydrate dominant. If you love bread and dairy, then a Paleo diet isn’t the best choice of diet for you. Choose a diet that supports your fitness goals and more importantly, choose a diet that complements your preferred lifestyle.

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3.  Program hopping (impatient)

Problem: Start…start over…start again…and start back over once again. Unfortunately, this is how many people treat their health and fitness.

If I was a doctor, I would diagnose this syndrome as someone suffering from “shiny object syndrome”. You start things but never finish them. Something new appears and grabs your attention with the promise of quicker results or less effort required. Being impatient and not sticking with a plan prevents you from establishing what’s working and what isn’t. Being impatient can cause you to make decisions based purely on emotions instead of logic and reasoning.

Solution: Give your program time to blossom.

A caterpillar doesn’t morph into a butterfly instantaneously. Rome wasn’t built with a swift flick of the wrist. Marvin Gaye didn’t record ‘Let’s Get It On’ in three hours. Academy award films aren’t shot in three days.

Accomplishing feats requires more than an overnight commitment. Results come down to a simple math equation.

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Consistency + repetition + patience (i.e. time) = long term and sustainable results

Let your program runs its course before making a sudden and rash decision.

4. Over-reliant on tactics

Problem: Meal timing. Obsessing over the optimal ratio for protein synthesis. Should I eat brown rice or jasmine rice? Sweet potatoes or red potatoes? Three meals a day or five meals a day? What’s the best specific time to workout? These are just a few examples of what I like to call minor tactics. These minor tactics are the icing on the cake. But, what’s the point of worrying about the icing if your cake isn’t looking good or falling apart?

Solution: Foundation comes first.

This is how your fitness should be viewed. Before you worry about meal timing and protein synthesis or any other nutritional minutiae—focus on mastering the fundamentals of nutrition. If you’re not eating healthy meals consistently day in and day out, then that’s where your focus needs to be at. At the beginning, you want to knock down the big dominoes that will have the biggest impact on your weight loss goals.  Don’t major in the minutiae.

More by this author

Julian Hayes II

Author, Health & Fitness Coach for Entrepreneurs, & Speaker

Starting Today, Stop These 6 Things to Become the Best Version of Yourself 5 Fun Ways to Transform Your Body And Health When You Don’t Feel Like Going to the Gym 4 Common Reasons Why You Fall Short With Your Weight Loss Goals (And What You Should Do Instead) 7 (Surprising) Actions to Take For Guaranteed Fat Loss 7 Simple Actions Practiced Daily By People Who Love Themselves

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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