Occasionally when I start working with a new client, they tell me that they're not seeing any sort of results from their workouts. I've had people tell me they've gained weight, that they don't see any sort of change in their body, they've hit a plateau or that they're unable to get stronger - despite all of the time they spend exercising.
First of all, any sort of activity is good. So even if the results aren't immediately apparent, know that your body is in a much better place than if you were doing nothing at all. That said, it can be incredibly frustrating to feel like you're not making any progress. Here are a few reason why your efforts to get fit might be backfiring.
1) Diet: Most people start working out to lose weight, or the get rid of unnecessary body fat. Chances are you need to lose weight because you a) don't get any activity and b) eat too much. I'm not suggesting that you're eating buffet-style meals every day, but all it takes is an extra 200 calories a day, every day to add a significant amount of body weight that can really slow you down. If you're working out, don't reward yourself with "exercise food," unless you really need it. Energy bars, sugary energy drinks and other carb-heavy that get tacked onto a diet just because you worked out could add weight, or create a weight loss plateau. You might be burning 300 calories during your workout, but that energy bar, bagel, extra serving of rice or energy drink make up for those burned calories fast!
Tip: Eat regularly throughout the day. Drink plenty of water. If you've had an exceptionally long workout (90 min + of continuous activity), then eat something afterward. If not, wait until your next meal or snack. And don't overindulge when you do eat. If you have questions about what you're eating and would like feedback, contact me.
2) Effort: Slow and steady exercise does not win the race when it comes to weight loss. In fact, more and more studies are pointing in directions that suggest too much time spent working out "easy" can actually promote fat storage. There is a huge upside to this point - slow and steady is almost always B-O-R-I-N-G! A long relaxing walk after dinner is one thing (keep it up), but muscling your way into the gym, or getting your butt out of bed at 6:00am to go out for an easy run or workout...day in and day out becomes tedious and leaves the door wide open for stale workouts and extra fat storage.
Tip: Add intervals to your workouts. Five solid intervals is all it takes to really rev up your metabolism and start burning fat. The word "interval" can be daunting to someone who's just started working out, but you can be any fitness level and any age to do them. Everything is based on your own perceived exertion. My program, The 40 Day Shape Up, revolved around this style of training - and let me tell you...it works. The clients I've had run the program have lost anywhere between 5 and 12 pounds...over 40 days. That's huge. Sign up today.
3) Overtraining: About half the people I've trained have been race-oriented. They've been in training for a running race, triathlon, or some other competitive event. I've had really great success training clients in prepping for races, and it's great to see improvements in a fairly short period of time. One client I worked with was training for a marathon. His goal for the marathon was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. If you're not a runner, this is a huge achievement and a sign that you've worked hard. We started working together six months before his qualifying run. His last marathon time was 36 minutes off from his goal time to qualify. While I didn't think it was impossible to drop that much time, it was an uphill battle to say the least. Up until he started working with me, my client had a hard time with his runs. He felt run down, and like he was moving in reverse - not forward. At the time he was in his mid-40s, had a full time job and a busy social life. His training consisted of a series of long runs, traditional weight workouts and other exercise "clutter" that really wouldn't have him Boston-bound anytime soon. The bottom line is he was exercising a lot - too much. And the work he was doing wasn't entirely directed toward his goals. He was overtraining and burning himself out.
Tip: More is not necessarily better when it comes to working out, especially training. If your goal is to lose weight or run a faster 10K, have a plan of action that works for you and your lifestyle. Make your workouts efficient, but effective. For a goal-oriented person, it can be disastrous to go into a gym to just "workout." Yes, every now and then it's nice to just take it easy and ride the elliptical for 45 minutes, or until your feet go number, but other than that, it's a lot more fun when you have plan. More importantly, your body takes less of a beating too. Looking for a training plan customized to your lifestyle? Contact me.
Oh, and my client who was training for the Boston Marathon qualified. He dropped 36 minutes on the button, then went on to run Boston. I love telling people this story. He did the work the work the right way and achieved his goal. He stayed focused and followed through. I also had him alter his diet, which improved things significantly. The glory was all his. He did a great job!
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