Have you been spending a few workouts a week lifting weights and trying to eat healthily but are still not seeing the results you are hoping for?
There are three main common reasons that I hear over and over again in the community that is keeping you from seeing the results you want from your strength training efforts.
The good news? They are easy to fix once you have empowered yourself with the knowledge and mindset shifts to do so!
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If You Want To See The Results You Are Looking For From Strength Training You Should:
- Stop being afraid of calories, and under fueling yourself, and start giving your body the energy it needs to fuel itself
- Manage your stress to recovery ratio to give your body the time it needs to recover
- Improve your movement patterns and tissue outside of the gym so that you can avoid chronic injuries inside the gym
Eating Less and Moving More Is Not the Answer
A lot of us have a negative association with the word ‘calories’ because of diet culture. We have been told to put an emphasis on ‘eating less and moving more’, but that is not the magic cure. Your body needs fuel to move, and when you restrict that fuel, it can kill your energy and open you up to chronic energy.
All three of these topics, under-fueling, not managing your stress to recovery ratio, and not looking for ways to improve your movement patterns and tissue outside of the gym, have a huge impact on the results you see inside of the gym.
Results Need an Active Listener
Listening to your body is all about tuning into the signals that your body is sending you instead of ignoring them. If you are under a lot of stress, are not eating healthy foods or enough foods, or not prioritizing your sleep, it will all show up when you start to lift those weights.
While every exercise has its own risks, you can see the results you are looking for when it comes to strength training, but only if you are giving your body what it needs to succeed. Listening to your body, fueling it the right way, managing your stress to recovery ratio, and improving your movement patterns are the ways to help you achieve the results you are looking for in a healthy and safe way.
Which one of these common mistakes rang the most true for you? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.
In This Episode
- The number one most common mistake I see over and over again when strength training (4:52)
- Why not eating enough creates the perfect storm to decrease your motivation to move (7:55)
- General ways to improve the way you think about food and get on track to make sure you are not under eating (12:08)
- How an inadequate amount of recovery time and your overall stress ratio can impact your results (16:12)
- The role of chronic injury when reducing the results you see from strength training (23:21)
“If you are making this mistake, nobody is here to blame you. This isn’t something to feel bad about, this isn’t something to feel shameful for, it’s a piece of information to take and tuck into your back pocket and be more mindful and aware of what you are doing in your daily life.” (4:38)
“There is oftentimes a lot of negative self-talk or feeling like you are broken, or wrong, or bad, for your body physiologically responding in the way that it does. And a lot of that can be staved off by eating enough food and eating more consistently and introducing what I would call more of a relative balance of macronutrients.” (15:45)
“What is to be aware of is, if you are not getting the results from your strength training that you want, is to take a look at how much other, especially higher intensity movements or exercise, relative to all of the other stress that is going on in your life.” (20:05)
“If you are dealing with injuries or you are dealing with the effects of ‘life-ing’ and moving through life with these movement patterns, it is really important that you become aware of that and you work on them, and you start to become more tuned-in to the signals your body is sending you.” (31:08)
“If you are a woman who wants to get stronger and is lifting weights, you want your energy to increase, and you want to see performance in the gym, I am going to be here to help you do that.” (33:21)
Featured on the Show
3 Mistakes Keeping You From Getting Stronger In the Gym FULL TRANSCRIPT
Picture this you are spending a few workouts a week lifting weights, you are trying to eat healthily, and yet you’re not seeing results. This is so very common and on today’s episode of the Listen To Your Body podcast, I’m covering three common reasons why you’re not seeing the results you want from your strength training efforts.
The Listen To Your Body podcast has one bold mission, to help change-making women like you give themselves radical permission to listen to their bodies get free with food and fitness, and channel their energy, and be a force for good in the world. I’m a certified intuitive eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner, and strength coach Steph Gaudreau. This weekly show brings you discussions around dropping diet and exercise extremes, letting your inner wisdom lead and taking up space from inclusive body neutrality, Health at Every Size, nondiet nutrition perspective, we’ll examine how diet culture and the patriarchy keep women busy and distracted by the quest for body perfection, and how we can break free to live life on our own terms. It’s bound to be fiery, and ultimately, to make you think, hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app. And let’s dive in.
Hello, my friend. Welcome back to the podcast. This is Episode 332, which blows my mind that here we are 300 plus episodes into this show and still ticking if you’re brand new to the show and a brand new listener, thanks so much for being here. And welcome. And if you’re a returning listener, I appreciate you so much, you have no idea, it means a ton to hear from you. Every week, you send me DMS and tell me what you’re liking about the show and what you learned and how it’s changing your life, which is such a pleasure in such a joy, I’m so grateful to have that opportunity.
On the show. This week, I am covering a really common thing that I hear in the community, which is Steph, I am putting so much effort into getting stronger, I’m exercising so much more. I’m eating quote unquote healthy and I didn’t say air quotes at the top of the show, but that’s what I meant. I’m eating so healthy, and I’m not seeing results, I’m not really noticing that my strength is increasing, or my performance is increasing. My energy levels aren’t increasing What the fuck is going on here. And last fall, I interviewed at least 50 people that I know and from the community about what their biggest frustrations are with this. And one of the biggest frustrations was exactly that. Working hard, putting in the effort, and not really feeling the results. On this episode, I’m going to go into three common things that I see happening a lot. And this is stuff that I see in my community in my membership and in the conversations that I have with you on DMS and in my email. And also with my one-to-one clients. Now, just quickly want to mention, I still have a few one-to-one nutrition openings. So if you want to figure out how we can work together, you want to apply to see if we’re a good fit, go to Steph gaudreau.com. And there’s a link called work with me. And there you can see the application and see how I help people in a one-to-one setting with things like nutrition and getting stronger.
Okay, so I digress. This is something that I see all the time. And I’m going to start with number one, probably the biggest one that I’m seeing over and over and over again. And if you are making this mistake, okay, nobody’s here to blame you. This isn’t something to feel bad about. This isn’t something to feel shameful for. It’s a piece of information to take and tuck into your back pocket and be more mindful and aware of what you’re doing in your daily. So the first mistake that I’m seeing when women are lifting weights and trying to get stronger and not seeing the results is they are not eating enough food. Now I know there is the old adage, eat less, move more and it’s everywhere. It’s on Instagram, the internet. It’s on TV, you see it from doctors and other nutrition professionals. This very blanket statement of eating less, moving more. And of course, energy intake matters. And by energy, I mean calories. calories are a unit of energy that’s in food. But chances are if you’re a listener of this show, even calories have this really loaded, connotation, they the word calorie, right, we’re always taught We should eat fewer calories and diet and restrict our calories. A lot of you out there have a negative association with the word calorie because we’ve been told we need to burn more calories, not eat too many calories. And this is diet culture. It is diet culture, and yes, calorie caloric intake and energy intake matter. But we have put an over-emphasis. we collectively, diet culture, as is shown by the nutrition industry and the fitness space. And specifically, in the weight loss industry we are constantly subjected to the idea that we need to eat less, eat less, eat less.
And what I see in this community is not generally folks who are over-consuming calories in a really reckless way or over-consuming energy in a really knowingly reckless way, it’s actually the opposite. It is the opposite. And so I get really pissed when I hear people just tossing around like eating less, move more, eat less, move more. And to me, the community that I serve, and my own personal experience going back 1020 years is that I was already eating less and moving more. And trying to eat even less than that and move even more than that took me away from getting stronger and made me not as strong, it brought me chronic injury, it killed my energy, right, and so on and so forth. And so this is some of the stuff that I see happening quite a bit out there in the community now is still because of the influence of diet culture, even when folks are trying their best. And this is oftentimes just not knowing. I see it more often as an unknowing situation where we’re unknowingly eating way too little in terms of energy. And what that does is a few things. Obviously, we need enough energy to support our basal metabolic rate which is the metabolic system of our body if we are at complete and total rest. And then we add on to it things like our physical activity, our nonexercise activity thermogenesis which is called NEET or NEPA, which is nonexercise physical activity, which is all the other things we do besides exercise that still comprise movement, and things like fidgeting and just moving around and all of that stuff. And then we have the caloric needs of actually digesting our food.
So those kinds of four things go into our daily energy requirement. And then on top of it, we are spending energy to exercise and I sort of mentioned that already that physical activity. But what we have is too little energy onboard and it does a few things. So one, it can actually decrease your desire to move. Your body is smart, and it knows that when you don’t have enough energy on board, and your metabolism begins to down regulate, one of the things that can happen is your body’s innate desire to move. And exercise. This is the biggest mindfuck that can actually go down. So if you’re trying to quote eat healthily or eat good, or diet and significantly restrict your calories, and you’re trying to exercise on top of that, what often happens is people don’t realize that their D motivation to exercise is because they are their bodies are not getting enough energy. Right. And of course, our metabolism will also down-regulate to adapt to the amount of energy that we’re taking in. If it’s lower, our metabolism will decrease. We’ll slow down and adapt accordingly.
And so what we start to see is this kind of perfect storm of not eating enough and then we don’t feel like moving and that honestly plays out a lot with it. The self-talk with the feelings of guilt or the feelings of shame or the feelings of not being good enough. And so just a couple of pieces of food for thought here. And I’m not going to go into this insignificant depth because I have more planned for you in terms of content coming for this, but you mean enough energy onboard to Yes, to get your body moving throughout the day to account for your basal metabolic rate and all of the things we just talked about. And you need enough energy to fuel your workouts, right, and to make sure that you’re not down-regulating your metabolism. So there’s a lot that goes into this.
The other part of that is yes, feeling like we’re trying to eat healthily, and sometimes inadvertently, you know, we’re, we and I’m saying we collectively, that’s the Royal we hear, we collectively are cutting out big chunks of food groups we are Yes, maybe we’re adding in more things like vegetables, which is wonderful. But the fiber and the feeling effect, the sort of increased volume that vegetables introduced can displace some of the other more calorically dense foods. And so we’re trying to, quote, eat healthily, but in the long run, what we’re doing is decreasing our energy intake so much that starts to have a negative impact. If you’ve been here for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m not an advocate for long-term weighing, measuring. And even for a lot of people, if you have a disordered relationship with food, short term, weighing, measuring, tracking, logging, counting your food, becoming an accountant, with your food, spending all the time focused on numbers, and weighing and quantifying. For the vast majority of people that I work with that is not helpful. And it completely separates us from the signals our body is sending us.
However, there are some general ways that you can think about food and picture food in a very sort of portioned setting that can help you get a little bit more, I would say on track to make sure you’re not under-eating. The other thing that I see very often happening. And look, I say this with so much love, but also I need to call this out, not eating throughout the day, or eating very, very little in the morning, like coffee is my breakfast, and then at lunch, having a protein bar and maybe a little salad or something like that, and then having dinner and then after dinner, you can’t stay out of the cupboards. And you’re like I’m out of control via Why am I craving sugar, I can’t stop eating sugar. I’m having sugar cravings, something’s wrong with me, I’m a horrible person. And it starts to snowball. This effect starts to snowball, where you’re not taking in enough energy throughout the day, you get to the nighttime period. A lot of my clients tell me they’re like, oh, wow, I didn’t realize how, how hangry I’m getting how unpleasant I am to be around my mood is just the worst. I’m snapping at people. I’m snapping at my kids, I’m snapping at my partner. And then feeling like there’s something wrong with them because they just want to eat carbs. I’ve talked about this a little bit on the show before but I just wanted to bring it up quickly here is that in those cases, what we’re seeing is a chronic low energy intake and low energy availability. And that’s driving things like the desire for carbohydrates because carbohydrates are the easiest macronutrient to digest.
They’re the quickest macronutrient to digest. And in fact, for some kinds of carbohydrates, digestion begins really in the mouth. And so they are a quick form of energy, as opposed to things like protein and fats, which take a little bit more effort to digest. If you’re listening to this podcast and thinking, yep, you convinced me stuff, I want to get stronger. I am ready to take that next step. Or it’s just been a while since I’ve worked out and I’m ready to get back into it. Then I want to invite you to sign up for my free strength workout mini-course. Not only do I walk you through all of the incredible benefits of strength training, but I’m also giving you three workouts completely done from start to finish. With all of the tips and pointers, you need to make sure that you are executing them as well as you can and getting all of the benefits out of them. So if you want to get this free strength training mini-course it is super simple. Just hop over to StephGaudreau.com slash workout that StephGaudreau.com/workout and get enrolled in my free Strength Workout Mini-Course.
Suffice to say, I bring all this up because there’s oftentimes a lot of negative self-talk or feeling like you’re broken or wrong or bad for your body physiologically responding in the way that it does. And a lot of that can be staved off by eating enough food and eating more consistently. And introducing what I would call more of a relative balance of the macronutrients, which again, we’re not going to get into on the show. And yes, there are exceptions to this. So no hate mail. But suffice to say, a lot of you all could benefit from making sure you’re eating enough. And when you’re eating enough, and you feel like you have the energy to do your workouts, and you have the energy to do the things you want to do in your life, you’re going to get much better results from whatever program or plan you’re on. So that’s sort of mistake number one is under-eating Mistake number two, is an inadequate amount of recovery time. There are so many things that affect recovery time. And really what I’m talking about here is a sort of dance between stress and recovery.
And of course, if you are lifting weights, you’re going to be introducing a stressor to your body, just like any kind of physical activity is considered a stressor. Now, lifting weights tends to rely on a slightly different energy pathway, there are basically three main energy pathways not going to get into it a tremendous amount on this show. But suffice to say, if we’re doing a sort of low repetition, higher intensity, what I mean by that is heavier, harder, right? Not necessarily doing 150 repetitions of everything or doing a hit, but we are looking at a sort of lower repetition range, higher intensity, meaning we’re kind of doing that general strength training zone of movement, we’re probably not going to have the same demands put on our energy systems as we would if we were doing something like solely doing CrossFit or doing endurance sports. So it’s a little bit different. And for a lot of people, especially those of you with chronic illnesses, like autoimmunity, you have significant stress in your life, whether it’s acute, you know, something brought it on, or it’s more long term, no matter what the case is strength training, is at this sort of lower repetition, higher intensity zone can be a lot better for your hormones, and a lot better for your stress response. Now, of course, individual, your mileage may vary. And if you are working through some significant issues, I highly recommend you work one to one with somebody on this either somebody who has both certifications and you know, strength training or movement and nutrition. So that way, you are able to keep tabs on everything that’s happening and take that bigger picture view of your health.
But in general, what I tend to see is women who are wanting to get stronger, they’re lifting weights, they’re putting in the work are also overdoing it with other kinds of exercise. And typically, it is going to fall into that high-intensity zone. And or a lot of, and I’m not talking about lower intensity, things like walking, walking is incredible, incredible, incredible. for introducing a lower intensity sort of steady-state movement. What I am talking about are those, you know, technically, they’re not a pure strength training workout, but they’re going to be getting into that hit, sort of high-intensity interval training style, or they’re going to be some kind of significant training involved in endurance sports, where you’re training actually at a pretty high-intensity level, a lot of the time, coming from the endurance sports background, I feel like I can say that, and I’m definitely not hating on high-intensity interval training at all. What is to be aware of, is if you’re not getting the results from your strength training that you want, is to take a look at how much other especially higher intensity movements or higher intensity exercise or higher intensity, long-distance endurance stuff you’re doing, relative to
all the other stress that’s going on in your life. And that’s going to be really important because those stress levels are going to be really personal. Not everybody finds the same events to be psychologically, psychologically stressful, or the same issues going on in their lives that cause stress. But remember, movement, physical activity is a stressor. And not all stress is bad. That’s the thing. Stress kind of happens on this curve continuum. But what’s really important is you’re giving yourself enough recovery time. And if we go back to the old adage of eating less, move more, many of us have had it drilled into us that we need to just like, bump up the intensity and bump up the volume and bump up the number of reps and be working out all the time, all day, every day, we need to do hours and hours and hours in the gym. Some people have the stress the sort of resilience capacity to deal with that. And like it and other people don’t. And so they feel a lot of pressure that they need to be doing these things and hours in the gym, and so on and so forth, or they’re just feeling really destroyed.
This is to happen a lot when I was coaching in the CrossFit community. It happens a lot in high-intensity interval type training, or somebody whose lifestyle is already really stressful, or their life has a lot of stressors in it. And then they’re doing five or six days of high-intensity interval training for long sessions on top of it. And they’re doing things like cutting their carbs or fasting. So their caloric intake is chronically on the lower side, especially if they’re not doing it in a way that’s really wise. And over and over and over and over and over again, I would see women particularly would come in and say things were great for a while. And now my energy sucks, I am seeing a lot of changes that I don’t want to see in my body, I’m noticing that my mood is really low, I feel cold all the time my hair is falling out. And I would say I would recommend you go and get some bloodwork and have your thyroid checked. Because this effect of the stress of all of these things piled on the top right is high-intensity interval training. Bad Of course not.
But it’s all contextual, to the person, if you’re already undergoing a lot of life, stress, your nutrition, you’re not eating enough food, you’re not really getting adequate rest and recovery, then you need to be smart about which energy systems you’re putting through the wringer. And that’s why I love strength training for people who are coming back to movement for people who are looking for something that matches a little bit better with the overall stress balance in their life. Because it’s not going to be typically as hard on the body as some of these other forms of exercise. Okay, so that’s the second thing is, what is our overall recovery to stress ratio like. And then the third thing that I see a lot, and it’s kind of related to the other two is a chronic injury. Chronic injury is oftentimes standing in the way of people getting the results that they want to see when they start some kind of a strength training program. In the last episode of this podcast, I talked about the benefits of strength training.
Specifically, and I want to talk about this sort of flip side to this coin, there’s a couple of things I want to mention. First is the number of times that people will tell women who are expressing interest in starting a strength training program, they’ll say things like, oh, be careful, you might get hurt or don’t hurt yourself. And it really butters my biscuits, because from my experience, a lot of women already feel like starting a strength training program takes a lot of courage, they might not feel confident. It’s taken a lot of chutzpah to get it going. And then somebody comes along and poops on their parade and it’s not motivating. And we could unpack all of the garbage, of patriarchy and sexism in those state kinds of statements. But suffice to say, getting going with a strength training program for a lot of people is challenging, and yet it has so many benefits and risks. Yes, there are risks. There are risks because it’s a physical activity, but the risks of other kinds of sports or movement, for example, team sports, especially with an explosive element, like say basketball or soccer, or even repetitive movement activities like running. I mean, look, these risks are also They are and in a lot of cases, they’re higher than something like strength training. But you never, ever, ever, ever, I have never in my fucking life and this is getting a little bit ranty. But I’ve never in my life heard someone caution a woman, specifically who says, Hey, I think I’m going to start training for 5k. Never, ever in my life have I heard somebody say, Oh, you should be careful, you could get hurt. So there’s this, there are layers and layers of issues here. But suffice to say, I wanted to talk about this one. Because, yes, injury is, of course, a risk. But I see a lot in and this is going back to, you know, coaching in the gym. This is being out in my online community.
Working with people and programs, what I see a lot is the effects of what my very good friend Noel, who’s a movement specialist calls living, where we are going about our lives, we’ve developed movement patterns and adapted our movement patterns to either thing like tissue tightness, or maybe we had an injury before or we’re just adapted to the way in which we move in our environment. So the biggest example I can give is, think about when you’re on your phone, and how much you’re on your phone, what is your neck doing? Most of us and I do it too. So I’m going to raise my hand and I still have to remind myself, but most of us will sit there. And we’ll put our phones way down low. And we’re looking down. And so we get what Kelly’s strike the supple leopard calls text neck. Right? So we think about we’re like we’re in this position because we’re adapting to our daily life or adapting to what is going on. We’re, you know, a lot, a lot of us are typing a lot, we’re on our phones, we’re maybe driving, we could be sitting a lot. And so our tissues, our movement patterns begin to adapt to these positions that we put ourselves in for a lot of our day. Now, this is not to say that we’re bad for sitting or you know, we shouldn’t be on our phones. But what happens is then people come into a strength training set, and they start loading these movement patterns. And then they’re like, Oh, see, squatting is dangerous because maybe their knee is bothering them. The other thing we’re really good at doing is ignoring the aches and pains that our body sends us until something really, really significant happens. So you know, we might have that lower back thing, or we might have that shoulder thing. And, of course, I don’t want us to think we have to walk around like the boy in the bubble. Like, oh, I had a little Oh, the thing like I better stop everything that I’m doing, because I could end up with some kind of significant serious injury. You know, sometimes we have those things that go on. But if you have a persistent nagging pain or restriction limitation in your movement, you have to get that either looked at or worked on or find something that can help you restore that movement. And sometimes it’s working with a PT or a physio, or it’s working with a soft tissue person.
So a massage therapist, it could be acupuncture, or like, there are a bajillion mobility programs online, a lot of them are really good. I’ve mentioned some on this show before. So there are options at various price levels. I know not everybody has the resources to work with massage therapists every week, though, that would be really nice. So there are some sort of do-it-at-home sorts of scenarios. And if you have had something like a surgery, or an injury, that’s been really catastrophic, you may need to work more closely with somebody to figure out how to adapt, how to adapt what you want to do in terms of strength training to the current state of your body, right. But I want you to think about what oftentimes is happening is that there’s a movement pattern that is inefficient or is restricted in some way. And a lot of times it has to do with what’s going on in everyday life. But then the tendency is to blame the squat or blame the overhead press or blame whatever else it was that we were doing when like the injury came out of the blue, out of the blue it oftentimes didn’t just come from out of the blue and some of that is like getting more aware of your body and the signals and signs that it is sending you. And some of it has to do with granting your body enough recovery time. I just talked about that in the previous point. So if you are pushing yourself too hard too fast your habit dealt with some of the restrictions and your mobility and movement patterns.
Another one I see a lot. And this happened to me. And this is one of the reasons I was having things like chronic lower back pain is that I had what’s called an anterior pelvic tilt. And a lot of it had to do with things like how I had learned to move my body. And not realizing that I had that thing, I had this position called an anterior pelvic tilt and then loading that movement. And, you know, over time, they, you know, start to become tight, painful, restricted, etc. So, if you are dealing with injuries, or you’re dealing with the effects of living, and moving through life with these movement patterns, it’s really important that you become aware of that and you work on them. And you start to become more tuned into the signals that your body is sending you like if you keep getting sharp pain signals, or keep having this chronic pain is to seek up a channel that works for you. And like I said, different modalities will work for different people. There are lots of ways to approach to this. And I really do think a lot of it is very personal. But also think about how much movement you’re doing, are you pushing yourself to get back too hard, too fast. And that’s what I see happening a lot, is that people will become very, very motivated.
And they go too hard, too quick, there’s not enough recovery, not paying attention to body signs and signals, oftentimes undernourished, not taking on enough energy. And it all kind of comes together in this really unfortunate set of circumstances where then people ended up with these chronic injuries. So I hope this show is helpful just to recap the three general mistakes that I see happening a lot when it comes to women lifting and then not getting the results that they expected, despite all of their hard work. The first one was under fueling slash not eating enough. The second one was not managing your stress to recovery ratio very well. And then the third is not looking for ways to improve things like your movement patterns and tissue outside of the gym. So that way, when you do get into the gym and you start lifting, you’re able to move a lot better, and then get the results that you want, because you’re not sustaining chronic injuries. Alright, I’d love to hear from you on this. So send me a direct message on Instagram, and tell me which one of these things rang the most true for you.
As I said, I’m here to help support and help illuminate these things. I love working with people on these issues. And in the future, you can expect some resources from me specifically about this. So if you’re a woman who wants to get stronger and is lifting weights, you want your energy to increase and you want to see a performance in the gym. I’m going to be here to help you do that. And lastly, there’s a fun new way that we can stay in touch with each other. If you want to join my texting squad, then you can text me a message at 619-313-5948. All you have to do is text me and say hello. And then you can be added to hear from me about a variety of topics, including things like yes, lifting weights, and getting stronger and feeling yourself properly in order to do that along with all the other stuff that I have going on. So you can do that again. 619-313-5948 and join my texting squad. I would love to see you there. Alright, I’ll see you back next Tuesday for another episode of Listen To Your Body podcast. Thanks so much for being here with me and have a badass week.