1. You’re spending too much time at the gym.
Think short and sweet when it comes to your workouts. Forty-five-minute workouts that incorporate periods of high in-tensity are the fastest route to a lean, toned appearance, says Tommy Europe, personal trainer and host of Slice’s The Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp. After your warm-up, do “30 seconds of hard [cardio] work at nine out of 10 on the effort scale, in-terspersed with 90 seconds of light cardio at four out of 10 on the effort scale,” says Stuart Phillips of McMaster University’s exercise metabolism research group in Hamilton. Repeat this high-intensity/low-intensity cardio for 10 minutes, then round out your workout with 30 minutes of strength training. During a workout, “your heart rate should hit 80 percent of your age-predicted maximum,” says Phillips.
2. You’re doing the same old thing.
Beware the workout rut. You need to mix things up and keep your body challenged or the desired slimming will stop, as your body uses less muscle strength and effort (which translates to burning fewer calories) when it becomes used to a particular workout. “Change your routine every 2–4 weeks, says Phillips.
3. Your diet is a mess.
Think your hard-core Thai kickboxing class justifies scarfing down that cheeseburger afterward? Sorry, no. Recent studies point to a higher-fibre, higher-protein diet as the best way to curb hunger and increase your sense of fullness so you don’t overeat. If you’re aiming to lose weight the healthy average woman should aim for a 50-25-25 split between colourful (non-root) veggies, protein and complex carbs at mealtimes, says Charlene Chen, a registered dietitian at Vancouver General Hospital. What would that look like? One or two cups of leafy veggies, 4–6 ounces of lean protein (such as grilled chicken or fish) and half a potato (skin on; if you peel it, you’ll lose tons of nutrients found right under the skin) or half a cup of brown rice. “And drink plenty of water,” says Chen, because thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Snacks are your friends, though, especially before a long workout. Consider carb snacks that are about 100 calories, such as a banana or three medium-sized high-fibre wheat crackers, suggests Chen. That will ensure you have enough energy to com-plete a good workout. Anything more than that might get stored as fat or interfere with your workout.