Last Updated on September 28, 2016 by Michael Brockbank
When you’re determined to lose weight, it can be incredibly easy to push yourself too hard. But what exactly is “too hard,” and why does it matter? Pushing yourself beyond your physical limits can actually cause a great deal of pain as well as affect your emotional state. You need to be realistic in your goals and what you want to accomplish, and here is why.
How You Can Push Yourself Too Hard
When some of us get it into our minds that we want to lose weight, it can be hard not to go beyond our limits. Sayings like, “No Pain, No Gain” and “Feel the Burn” become mantras you chant as you strive to reach your goals. However, there is a point when you begin hurting yourself physically and mentally.
I often have the problem of over exerting myself. I want to be at my goal weight so badly that I’ll physically hurt myself in the process. A little bit of hurt is one thing, but pushing your body far beyond its limits can have devastating results.
Right now, I have been pushing myself harder than I ever have. As a result, I am sore from head to toe – literally. Everything on me hurts. Now, hurting like I do right now can be seen as a good thing. Essentially, I am tearing down my body to build a new one. Micro muscle tears happen when working out and proteins in your body fixes them with much stronger and more tense tissues.
However, you can cause more damage than just these micro tears. In fact, I’ve seen people break bones because they tried to lift more than they were capable. This is why it’s vastly important to understand your personal limitations.
Muscle and bone aren’t the only things that can be damaged when you push yourself too hard. Dehydration is a common problem for many people as they deplete the water in their bodies rapidly. Not eating right can put you into a hypoglycemic shock, even for those who are not diabetic.
The Mental Factor
Most of your weight loss is going to come from your mental actions. Things like determination, motivation and vigilance all come from the mind. It can be easy to essentially psyche yourself out of being healthy. Here is what I mean.
Let’s say that you set a weight goal for this month. You put in all the work, but are seeing very few results on the scale. At this point, many people will simply give up because they don’t think they can meet their goals for health. What do you do?
It can be very frustrating to push yourself to lose weight and see that you haven’t lost anything. But, you need to consider the factors that play into personal weight, such as:
- Muscle weighs more than fat. The scale will say that you only lost one pound, but you may have gained a considerable amount of muscle mass.
- Retaining water will add weight. If you don’t keep yourself well hydrated and eat lots of sodium, the body will retain a lot of water to keep functional.
- Your diet will affect weight loss. If you’re eating too many carbs and sugars without burning all of it, it can still affect your weight.
- Personal physiology will affect exercise results. Although humans are generally similar, not everyone will burn weight at the same pace.
- Regular bowel movements can drop weight. As disgusting as it is to think about it, keeping yourself regular can be a bonus when stepping on the scale.
Disappointment in results is probably one of the biggest reasons why people give up on trying to lose weight or be healthy. It can lead to depression, which causes many people to overeat – such as myself. You can’t let problems such as these affect your focus.
Setting Unrealistic Goals
Unrealistic goals are often a problem for those who want to lose weight. It can cause you to push yourself far beyond what you can do, which leads to all kinds of issues. This is another part of how knowing your limitations can be quite beneficial.
Most people would love to just instantly be in shape. Unfortunately, the human body doesn’t work that way. Aside from operations and medications, it takes a great deal of effort to look good. As such, you need to focus on what you can do to set realistic expectations of yourself.
Take me, for example. I am trying to prove that you don’t need to get on special diet plans to lose 80 pounds in four months. In reality, this is quite a difficult feat to accomplish. I am basing this goal on what I have done in the past for weight loss. Now, I might not hit 180 pounds by December 31st, but you can bet that I’m going to look far better than I do now.
And that’s the kicker. Even if you don’t hit your absolute goals, you’re still adding a great deal of health. Be proud of your accomplishments and relish in the idea that you are becoming a healthier person because of it. If you don’t meet this weeks goals, adjust them for next week. Don’t dwell in what you might perceive as failure. Because in reality, failure only happens when you don’t learn from the experience.
Ways to Find Your Limitations
So, how hard should you push yourself to lose weight? That depends on how much you want to lose, how willing you are to get there and your own physical limitations. Here are some of the things I do to find where I need to be.
1. Weight Training
I believe everyone should have some kind of weight training in their routines. Not so they can look like body builders, but its very beneficial to every day life. I don’t want to bulk up, but I would like to have a bit of strength and endurance. So, I will:
- Start with a low weight when lifting.
- If it feels too easy, increase the weight or the number of repetitions.
- Find the point where it gets to be a great deal of effort to lift at the end of the set.
- Do that number of reps or pounds for a week.
- Increase the pounds or reps slightly the next week.
For example, right now I can do four sets of 40 pounds on the bicep curl machine at 16 reps each. I’ll do this three times a week while getting in cardio. Next week, I’ll increase those reps to 18. Remember, I want to tone not bulk up. And, increasing the reps will cause my body to burn more calories during the workout.
2. Know When to Eat
When you exercise, your body quickly converts sugar into energy for your muscles. If you don’t eat, or have a low blood-sugar level, you may find yourself going into hypoglycemic shock. It’s happened to me twice. You need to know when to eat and how much you need.
For me, I’ve found having a protein shake in the morning while exercising prevents from going into shock. If I have a light dinner before working out and drink a Gatorade at the gym, I don’t go into shock. I’m not saying this is perfect for you, but it’s what helps me. Remember, everybody is different.
3. Set Personal Records
I love setting personal records. It gives me something to work on. You don’t want to push yourself too hard when trying to set these, but finding your comfort zone is ideal. For instance, my record for the plank is 2:03. Coincidentally, this is how long the “Avengers” theme song is – which is what I was listening to when I set the record. It’s my goal to surpass that before heading to LA in a couple of weeks.
You don’t have to set incredibly high marks for yourself to benefit form records. At the moment, my record for push-ups is 13. I can probably do more than that now, but it’s been a while since I actually did one. I’ve been spending time on the fly machine. The point is find your maximum and then work on building yourself up to beat it later.
I set a record for lying leg raises as 17 reps. I’ll work on this exercise doing 10 to 12 reps with each set over the next week. By the time I am ready to go for another record, I should be able to beat it because I spent time building up my abs. You don’t have to match your record with each workout in order to benefit.
It’s Not About The Push, But What You Get Out of It
It’s not a bad thing to push yourself to reach certain health goals. You just don’t want to push yourself too hard. You need to find a personal balance that will be beneficial for health. Unfortunately, this can take a bit of time. However, you may get far more out of the experience as you learn more about your body and what you’re capable of doing.
I know a lot of health experts may disagree with me on many points. I am just stating what I have learned over the past year. These are things that work for me, and they may work for you. Then again, they may not. But you still owe it to yourself to find your limits if you want to push yourself to certain levels.