The excitement of beginning a new training program or workout routine can quickly become a disappointment when you don't feel like you are making progress. It might even make you second guess whether you are doing the right thing or just wasting your time and money.
I am here to tell you that usually, that's not the case. I have outlined 5 reasons why you are possibly not seeing the results you signed up for.
1. YOU JUST STARTED
It's a rookie mistake to assume that results happen overnight or even in just a few weeks. Unfortunately, we might see social media posts that reveal amazing weight loss or fitness results with a four-week challenge. Sure, you can follow a strict meal plan and go hard in the gym for 30 days, but then what? What about on day 31? You never see follow up stories on those individuals to see if they were able to maintain those results in "real life."
Sustainable fat loss may take months to achieve because your body will always want to get back to it's happy place, the set point. However, if you gradually let it get used to small losses it can maintain the new body composition much easier.
On the flip side, muscle mass gains for women can take some time to achieve. There are various factors that play a part including adequate protein intake, hormone imbalances, and creating enough stimulus to break down the muscle fibers so that they can rebuild. Tiny pink weights aren't gonna cut it.
Ideally, give yourself 16-20 weeks of consistent effort to see results that you know are maintainable. And consistent effort is the key here.
2. YOU AREN'T TRACKING
You need measurable goals, remember the SMART method? It is a method of goal setting to help you achieve success by outlining clear goals that are: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Tracking your workouts and your nutrition compliance is a way to help you measure your consistency and effort.
Ideally, you should be increasing your sets, reps, and weight through a progressive overload model. You may not be able to go up in weight every week, but definitely over the course of time.
Tracking your nutrition compliance can come in many different forms. Some people like to use apps like myfitnesspal. Other people find that method to be tedious and prefer to write it down with a pen on paper. There are many different ways to track your food and water intake to make sure that you are eating enough food, the right amount of the right foods, and not going over your caloric allotment. And remember, there are no good and bad foods, just foods that are better for meeting your goals and foods that just give us pleasure.
3. YOU AREN'T RESTING
Rest and recovery are just as important as training and nutrition. If your program calls for three complete rest days, there is probably a good reason for it. And if you aren't sure, then ask your trainer. I love to educate people on why I program what I do, it's a science and really interesting for nerdy types like myself.
Fitness and exercise are stressors to our bodies. We accumulate stress from daily life and training and caloric deficits only add more. If you over train you may experience some harmful side effects including decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, and mood swings.
Relax and follow the program.
4. YOUR GOALS AREN'T REALISTIC
This might hurt a little. It might not be realistic to maintain a 10% body fat for the rest of your life. And you can't grow long and lean muscles if that's not your natural body type. If losing weight is your goal in a short time frame and you don't want to follow a meal plan and don't have a supportive environment, it might not work out so well.
That's when we go back to setting SMART goals that 10 out of 10 you know that at some point with the right effort and tools you can achieve. Ideally, you will go through some serious self-examination when you are deciding what you really want in life and what you are willing to do to get there.
There is always a cost to achieving something, whether that be time, money, self-deprivation, or even relationships. You will have to make tough choices.
5. YOU AREN'T MEASURING
Your goals have to be specific and measurable. Your methods for measurements should complement your goal. You know you are gaining strength when you are able to lift heavier loads. You know that you are losing weight by stepping on the scale. And you know that your body composition is changing by taking circumference and body fat measurements.
I will have clients that step on the scale and expect to see it going down and don't realize that is just one snapshot of what's going on. Especially if someone is already pretty lean, the scale isn't going to budge a whole lot. Add in consistent strength training and your muscle gains might increase the scale. So that's when we use multiple measurement methods to assess progress. I like to remind clients that the numbers are just information that we use to formulate a plan and in no way represents who they are as an individual.
Progress takes time and it may not be linear. "Falling in love with the process" might sound cliche, but it has a lot of truth to it. If you don't enjoy your training sessions or you feel restricted with food and you aren't able to enjoy the moments of everyday life than it's going to be a long miserable road.
Find a workout routine that you mostly (no one feels like exercising all the time) look forward to doing and provides you feelings of confidence.
Discover new ways to prepare the foods that will support your goals and that you actually enjoy consuming. I love to eat yummy foods, I think that makes me a foodie. I don't want to eat boring food and have found spices and flavorings that will take things up a notch to a delicious level.
You will have moments of doubt and frustration along the way. That is normal. Remember that this process does work with consistent effort. You got this!