Eating less is a poor answer. Actually a wrong one. You can actually loose fat while eating more.
I believe you are not making progress because you are making mistakes you dont know about. Here are some basic guidelines to avoid some of the usual mistakes:
1. Eat more often, eat unprocessed food, increase protein and oils and avoid simple sugars
The fittest girls I know actually eat quite a lot for their body type. You should have 4-6 meals per day. In the first part of the day eat more (complex) carbs, in the second protein and oils. Last meal should be 2h prior to bed and should contains a fish or a steak, maybe a quinoa any protein dish, with minimal account of carbs . Say what, not eating yogurt ? Yes. Breakfast means ”break-your-fast” (as fasting) – you are going catabolic while you are asleep and you need lots of amino acids to avoid that. So I won’t give you the hard time on specifics what you should eat, but by eating lots of lean meat, fatty fish, staying low on carbs (the majority of it should come from veggies) you can achieve more than with any trendy diet strategy (oh, and you can replace brown rice with quinoa, it is high in proteins and actually tastes awesome). Try to find a compromise somewhere between Mediterranean and paleo (dont go into strict vegan or keto). First step is to eliminate what you shouldn’t eat:
a) avoid simple carbs (they can be enjoyed during/after the training), added sugars or syrups say »No« to soda and sweetened nectars (=high fructose corn syrups in Europe that is called glucose-fructose syrup and is present in practically almost every nectar you can buy)
b) avoid saturated and especially trans-fat swap burgers with salmon burger or plain turkey, discover the world of »meaty« mushrooms as Portobello etc. But for optimal hormonal levels, use a moderate amount of butter or coconut oil.
c) Try to limit enriched, bleached and refined flour you should search for whole grains, since those »empty« grains can pass through your intestines spiking your body sugar metabolism. Well, Im not the best example here, I love white bread but at the end, skinny or fat, over time it can impair your gut and it becomes leaking (the concept that GPs didt adopt yet, I dont know why this is very important organ even in neurology)
The best way is to write down your meals for a week and send the list to some nutritionist for review. You may think you got the system, but believe me, you will be making mistakes which will mine your progress. Choose carefull. There are many promoting different magical strategies … if you contact me (PM) I can suggest you one or two which are excellent (work online/skype) and are quite down to earth when it comes to prices.
2. Limit stress
Stress hormone cortisol is causing water retention and increasing the percentage of bodyfat. Elevated levels of hormones adrenaline and cortisol are shouting to your brain: “Danger! Dinosaurs are coming! You have to store fat, it is the dangerous world out there!” Since your hormones are made of the same precursor, the more you consume for cortisol, the less will be transformed to progesterone and testosterone, your leanness hormones. Use adaptogens such as Ashwagandha, Cordyceps, ginseng or Rhodiola to lower your stress and cope with life easier .use relaxation techniques, engage in sport activities, find new environment, learn something new, gain self-esteem. Talk. With your friends, talk with a therapist.
3. Exercise vigorously, exercise differently
Your day have 24h. You wont get overtrained if you spend 45-90min a day exercising. You should engage in various activities, but most of them should be intense and not too long (even exercising produces cortisol). Forget about 2h chronic cardio. One day HIIT – this is metabolic training. Next day gym, always complex exercises, this is classic strength training, optimizing for your hormones. One day interval running/walking/hill – metabolic. Then gym, circular training-metabolic. One day fat burning&relaxation – long mountaineering with low heartrate (as form of meditation). Since personal trainers are not really the best choice (I have seen the greatest mistakes made by certified trainers), I sum up some advices for you:
a) You should combine many physical activities – martial arts with running or fitness with diving – to achieve the principle of universality. Remember, there is not a single athlete who becomes a champion and has done just one type of workout.
b) Resistance workouts should involve as much complex and bodyweight exercises as you can handle in a limited period of time including big muscle groups such as back or legs will challenge your bodys chemistry more than isolated ones. The golden standard consists of squat, deadlift, pull-up and bench press (I am adding overhead press. lunges, planking and leg raises).
c) Never stop at repetition number 12 do drop-sets and adjust the resistance till you fail to perform another rep safely.
d) You should do both classical resistance training and high intensity metabolic resistance training (circuit training, kettlebells etc). Body weight and free weights should be the core of your workouts, not the exercise machines.
e) You should combine aerobic and anaerobic exercises (during the same session), but not every training. Sometimes you can do training just for an increase in power output etc.
f) Your cardio should not be limited to endurance or high-intensity style despite trends that are saying HIT, »bootcamp« or tabata is superb, sprints cannot produce trance feeling and a smile at your half marathon run during intensive rain and vice versa. No workout is replaceable.
g) Your cardio should not be the same every session low intensity mountaineering, medium intensity swimming, high intensity badminton, medium intensity running, 10×1 minute sprint with 10×1 minute walking, medium intensity cycling, variable-intensity climbing, all-day low-intensity skiing etc.
h) Your (moderate and intensive) training shouldn’t be longer than 90 minutes preferable between 45 in 75minutes (look at letter i).
i) Don’t forget to take time for longer, low intensity meditation-like workouts (like hiking).
j) Use core sport nutrition – proteins, amino acids, glutamine, hydration drink and maybe some adaptogens / mild thermogenics. If someone wants to sell you something else – it s probably a hoax. Consume protein shake after every training (avoid those soy-based). Combined it with carbs like maltodextrine after cardio training. For longer session use BCAA during the exercise. Avoid aggressive fatburners – replace them with adaptogens such as Panax ginseng and Rhodiola rosea which will progressively lower your stress threshold resulting in increased endurance and VO2 max – resulting also in optimized sexual hormones and lower fat (again, if you need any advice, contact me and I will give you some directions)
k) Never read articles that begin with »Screw cardio« or any similar »broscience«.
l) Fall in love with the process (and results will come).
m) One more tip from my personal experiences. Satellite cells needs at least 3weeks to adapt to certain exercise, what promotes lean muscles. So don’t change your exercise routine in less than 3 weeks (and dont go below 3 series), but again, you have to change it after certain amount of time to shock your system.
4. Sleep more, sleep soundly
If you dont get enough of sleep or you wake-up too often, you are disturbing your REM cycles, resulting in low growth hormone (GH). This is your no.1 fit hormone. To promote secretion of GH during sleep you should follow a few basic rules:
a) Try to sleep and get up at the same time every day.
b) Limit your exposure to light prior to sleep (including using smartphones).
c) Get regular exercise.
d) Eat well, eat smart (avoid big meals, caffeine, alcohol).
e) Clear your mind, meditate, and establish a relaxing routine.
f) Keep your room dark, quiet, and cool (below 18 degrees).
g) Use natural sleeping aids as alpha-GPC, Huperzine-A, Ginkgo biloba, 5-HTP, Galantamine, L-theanine, Ashwagandha, Asparagus etc.
5. If this doesn’t produce first results in the next 6-12 months …
… go to your doctor and let him check the following things:
a) your thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism is the often cause of slow metabolism)
b) your sexual hormones – the ratio between progesterone and estrogen and the level of testosterone. Estrogen dominance and low T can produce fat no matter if you are doing 3h of exercise per day.
c) your stress hormone cortisol
e) maybe also the liver enzymes and your kidneys function (creatinine)
6. Girl, one more thing. Avoid toxic relationship and people. People calling you names… you don’t need them. But don’t worry, most often the situation turns around by itslef and suddenly, you are the white swan 😉