Well, somehow we're already in mid-February, which means we're well into our #STRONGer2017 challenge. Since New Year's, we've been hitting up three to four high-intensity STRONG by Zumba classes a week and learning about the role nutrition plays in maximizing workout results.
When you're putting in the effort at a workout like STRONG by Zumba, you want to see progress. Whether your goal is to become physically stronger or to run up a flight of stairs without getting winded, those small wins help to push you on those days when everything seems like a struggle. And no matter how dedicated you are, it's inevitable that you'll run into some bumps along the way — that's life. But sometimes the reason you're not getting the results you expected isn't so obvious.
Here's a little secret the #STRONGer2017 challenge has taught us at Elite Daily: Health is about more than just a combo of exercise and eating right. There are a bunch of other, lesser-known variables that go into living a healthy lifestyle. And while everyone is different, failing to pay proper attention to these X-factors might just be what's keeping you from achieving the goals you've set for yourself.
Here are six surprising things that could be getting in the way of your health goals.
1. Your boring exercise routine
We've all heard that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action while expecting a different outcome. This definitely applies to working out: If you're not seeing the results you want, you need a change.
The truth of the matter is that not all exercise programs are created equal, and it's important to be smart about what you're committing to. For us at Elite Daily, the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout STRONG by Zumba was just what we needed to mix up our routine with something fresh, challenging and — we swear — fun.
Added bonus: HIIT workouts are more efficient and burn calories even after you're done exercising. That's called working out hard and smart.
2. Your workout music
This goes hand in hand with the first point and is super important: If you're working out to bad music, you're making it that much harder on yourself. Like, seriously: As we highlighted earlier in the challenge, a number of studies have found that music can literally improve athletic performance and make you work out harder.
That's something the people (geniuses?) who came up with STRONG by Zumba understood. The entire class is reverse-engineered to music created by producers like Timbaland, so every song and movement perfectly align. And apart from being a nice distraction when you're sweating it out, SBZ's music makes you push yourself farther than you thought possible — trust us, we know from personal experience.
3. Your bad sleeping habits
Sleep does more than just leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world when your alarm goes off. There's a reason why you spend a third of your life horizontal.
When you don't get a good night's sleep, everything from your brain functioning to your emotional health suffers. Plus, there's this: Lack of sleep is highly correlated with obesity. According to a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute report, sleep deprivation messes with the hormones responsible for letting you know when you're hungry or full, so you're more likely to overeat when you're exhausted.
4. Your daily nightcap(s)
It's a common way to unwind after a long day — pour a glass of red wine or shake up a martini and reward yourself for doing a good job at life. (Hey, it's not always easy!)
But there's a point when indulging in a little pick-me-up can cross the border into the unhealthy zone. A beer clocks in at about 150 calories, and wine's a close second at 130. Liquor-based cocktails can be anywhere from 100 to a zillion calories, depending on what you're mixing into them.
Don't get us wrong: We're not opposed to a drink here or there, but when you're partaking in several nightly rounds, the calories start to pile up. Don't be surprised if this starts affecting the scale.
5. Your desk job
Between the monotony and the boredom, it's easy to feel like your office job is going to be the end of you. But according to CNN, your desk job might actually be killing you.
Sitting in one spot for hours on end (i.e. slowly dying at your desk) has been proven to offset the positive effects of regular exercise. Yikes. And it doesn't end there: Long periods of inactivity can lead to everything from cancer to cardiovascular disease to diabetes.
For the sake of your health, stand up once in a while, or do what some of us at Elite Daily have been doing and schedule SBZ classes during lunchtime. You'll feel super accomplished, free up your post-work schedule and break up your daily routine — it's an easy fix to a pretty bad problem.
6. Your fear of going to the doctor
Everyone dreads them: The million and one annual checkups that we're supposed to get in order to count ourselves as healthy, responsible adults.
But these periodic doctor appointments are as necessary as they are annoying. This is especially true if you're finding that changes in your diet and exercise routine aren't yielding results.
Only your doctor can diagnose any deeper issues that may be going on, and you owe it to yourself to keep up with your self-care.
There's no better time than now to set yourself up for a #STRONGer2017. Find a STRONG by Zumba class near you and join Elite Daily as we get healthier and stronger together.