by Josh Hodnick
Experience has shown me that a large number of people that begin a new workout and diet program, do so with unrealistic expectations. With two-thirds of the American population being overweight, and one-third being obese, countless weight-loss programs are being marketed to cash in on the obesity epidemic. Most diet and exercise programs being promoted in commercials or online are usually designed around a particular time frame, such as 30 days, 60 days, or whatever.
This is enticing to the consumer because there appears to be a solution to their problem, and they are being told how quickly this problem can be solved. For example, there are a handful of fitness programs that are being advertised to increase muscle mass while decreasing body fat. These programs usually consist of a particular workout program and a diet to adhere to. While each program may have it’s own unique twist, they are all based on the standard combination of resistance training, cardio, and diet. Many companies will promote their program as a 60 day or 90 day program, and will have endorsed users that will share the progress they claim to have made while using the program over a given period of time. Again, the marketing here shows a starting point and an end point. And many buy into this with the hope of wanting to make progress in the way they look and feel in a short period of time, and then that’s the end of it. There is no lifestyle change and they can go back to how they were living before. If they fell into that overweight or obese category of the population, and my money says that they did, they will go back to a lifestyle of overeating and being sedentary. We are creatures of habit, and changing your eating habits and activity level can be an uncomfortable feeling, and most want to avoid being uncomfortable. This is why promoting a program that is temporary and promises results is so profitable. People will always chase the temporary fix instead of finding the solution in a true lifestyle change. If you are content with being out of shape or being in average shape at best, then a temporary program will work just fine for your needs. On the other hand, it takes persistence to obtain a physique that is above average and that stands out in a crowd.
To succeed at anything in life, you need to be persistent. Reaching fitness related goals is rarely achieved by walking a straight path. Instead, its usually a journey that takes you down hills and up mountains. Progress made in the gym is never consistent. What I mean by this is that fat loss and gains in muscle will occur at different rates over a given period of time. People often see exceptional results during the first few months of starting a new program, and then progress begins to fizzle. Some may continue to see progress, but at a much slower rate than what they’d initially experienced. Others may see all progress come to a screeching halt. This can be very discouraging, and it often leads to many giving up on eating healthy and exercising altogether.
The body always has and always will adapt to change. This includes a change in calorie intake and calorie expenditure via exercise. This is why most people see great results with gaining muscle and losing body fat during the first few months of changing their diet and activity level. Once the body adapts, progress begins to abruptly slow down or stop altogether. To avoid adaptation, the main components in any exercise program to build lean muscle and lose body fat must be periodically changed. These components are resistance training, nutrition, and cardiovascular exercise. To keep the body guessing and to avoid adaptation, workout programs, nutritional intake, and cardiovascular training should be altered every 90-120 days. This wont eliminate adaptation altogether, but it will help to minimize it.
Regardless of the methods used for gaining muscle and losing fat, there will always be those unavoidable periods where little to no progress is made. We can’t expect there to always be these great reductions in body fat as we often see during the first few months of adopting healthy eating and a workout program. It just doesn’t happen that way. What we can expect is there to be up’s and down’s in progress from eating right and training hard.
Making it through the periods where very little or no progress is made is what separates those who find success and those who fail to reach their fitness goals. It’s easy to put in the work in the gym and in the kitchen when there is visible progress being made. Watching muscles expand and fat disappear is a very strong motivator. With resistance training, there are always stops and starts of sporadic growth. But to experience these periods of growth, you have to be persistent and continue to work through the sticking points and the times where there seems to be no progress. For example, a person may add a half-pound of new muscle tissue during a given month. This may seem like nothing, but over a year this adds up to 6 pounds of muscle, and a whopping 18 pounds over three years. This same concept rings true for fat loss as well.
Reaching your fitness goals takes hard work. It takes motivation, dedication, and most of all, persistence to work through the periods where progress often stalls or stops. Persistence to push through these periods will guarantee success and you apart from the pack.