Participating in an exercise program helps reduce stress levels, decreases risk of many diseases, and boost energy levels. However, many folks exercise to not only feel better but to also look better. In my six years of coaching boot camp, the most common reason I’ve seen people fall off the wagon is because their results-expectation was not met. We want instant gratification! I want to give you insight on when and what type of results you can expect so you remain motivated and dedicated to your goals and fitness program.
As the quote goes, “it takes 4 weeks for you to notice your body changing…” Many of these changes are happening internally and may or may not show up on the scale. You will have a boost in energy levels and be more productive. In the few weeks, your body is building muscle and learning how to burn fat as fuel (raising your resting metabolic rate!). Your muscles will strengthen along with improvements in your stability and mobility. Your muscles will begin to firm, and with a balanced program combining strength training, cardiovascular training, and nutrition, you can lose up two pounds a week safely. Again, these changes will be small but very beneficial even if it doesn’t show up on the scale. So stick to it and keep pushing because there’s a ton of success on the other side.
“…8 weeks for your friends to notice…” After the first month if you’re doing the same exercise routine, your body will begin to adapt and progress will begin to stall. There’s a few ways to switch it up. You can vary your routine by increasing the intensity, adding different exercises, or increasing the duration of exercise. In doing so, you’ll begin to realize more specific results such as increase muscle tone, reduction in body fat, and your clothes fitting you better. You’ll be able to work at a higher intensity for a longer time due to you increasing your cardiovascular capacity (strengthen your heart) and are becoming stronger.
“…and 12 weeks for the rest of the world to notice. Give it 12 weeks. Don’t quit.” As you’re closing in on 12-weeks of consistent training and nutrition, you’ll see more drastic changes in your body and your performance (lifting, running, flexibility, etc.). You can lose up to 24lbs. safely depending on your starting weight (body composition), nutrition, and consistency. You’ll notice smaller measurements in areas such as the waist, hips, thighs, and arms. Your heart is getting even stronger and is able to pump more blood through your body with each pump ie. lowering your resting heart rate. This allows you to work at an even higher intensity than previously. This is warranted because you’ll need to step it up (work harder) to continue to see changes and results. At this point, you’re starting to increase your thermic effect of food, energy used in digestion, which is raising your metabolism (an awesome thing!)
At this point, you may have or may have not reached your goals. If you have the maintenance phase is just as important as reaching your goal. If you don’t take this on, you’ll be back to where you started in 6-12 months. Adopt a lifestyle that is in-line with your goals and where you want to be and keep your focus there.
Twelve weeks won’t be enough to reach all goals. So if you haven’t done so, adopt the same mindset. The previous 12 weeks were probably a good jumpstart to achieving your goals. Keep the momentum going and don’t quit!
If you’re motivated intrinsically, meaning you exercise because you enjoy it or because it’s a way of life, continue to do what you’re doing. If you’re someone that is motivated extrinsically, meaning you’re motivated by a wedding date, vacation, race, etc., there’s no wrong way as it has a lot to do with personality, I recommend always having something on the calendar to work towards. We, as humans, are drawn to goals like magnets! This is a powerful strategy to keep you in the game and maintaining a healthy body and lifestyle.
True transformation and change are going to happen with hard work, consistency and the right program for YOU. Find a program that incorporates nutrition, strength training, cardio, and accountability and support to help achieve and maintain your goals.