Seeing real results and changes in your body from your fitness efforts is really, really hard work. It’s a long-term process that’s there is no quick fix for.
We all know how many advertisements we’re bombarded with for weigh loss pills, fat burners, the newest diet craze or must-have piece of fitness equipment. The claims that companies can get away with are astounding, especially since the majority of these quick fix-solutions just don’t work. So, how to see results from working out? Well, results are entirely possible, through good old-fashioned hard work. In fact, it’s the only way it’s possible.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about fitness and results.
1. Consistency is the key to success.
Fitness is a life-long endeavour regardless, but if you’re really trying to change how you look and feel, the key to success will be found in consistency. You can’t skip workouts and expect big results. Results will be found in those extra workouts. They’ll be found in the workout you did when you really didn’t feel like it. We all have those days. Push through them, those extra workouts make all the difference in reaching your goals. If you’re truly consistent, day to day, week to week and month to month, results will come.
Be patient, stay focused and don’t give up. We’re all in it for the long haul.
Personally, I just learned this one recently during a 40 day fitness challenge. I’ve worked out since I was very young but it wasn’t until this last 6 months have I really understood the power of true consistency. I only added about 1-2 workouts a week, but wow, did those ever make a difference! I think it’s also because on the days of those extra workouts you also eat better, drink more water and are just generally more active. It all adds up, every little bit. Seeing the results of a small amount of added effort and dedication, both in my level of fitness, how I feel and how I look, has been more motivating than ever.
2. Nutrition is the biggest determining factor .
You can’t get around this one, you just can’t. What you eat not only builds your body, but helps to you to fuel and recover from your workouts. When you start to focus on fitness goals rather than a number on the scale, you’ll really start to care about what you put in your body. Eating the best, most nutritious whole foods allows you to have the best and most effective workouts, which means making the most out your time in the gym and therefor, seeing results sooner.
Time is our most valuable asset so you really want to make the most of each and every workout. I don’t want to waste my time and efforts, do you? Recovery also becomes a factor. The better you eat, the quicker your body can recover and the quicker you can get back to working out and feeling good.
I wouldn’t recommend having crazy, all-out cheat days but do enjoy special indulgences and meals. It’s a lifestyle, but it has to be manageable and realistic for the long-term. Luckily, the healthier you eat, the healthier you tend to want to eat. You get hooked on feeling good and junk food just isn’t worth it.
Oh, and don’t forget, eat enough! You need energy for all those tough workouts! This usually takes care of itself if you stick to a whole food diet and eating when you’re hungry.
3. You have to work really, really hard.
You have to push your heart rate, challenge your muscles and do things you’ve never done before. That’s why it’s so hard. 30 minutes on the stationary bike 3 days a week just isn’t’ going to do it if you want to see a big change in your abilities and appearance. Light weights isn’t going to do it either. There’s a time and place and certain benefits to that kind of exercise but if you’re looking to tone, build muscle and lose fat you’ve got to move it, big time.
Interval training, intense cardio, circuit training, both challenging and gentle yoga and stretching, and lifting weights (go heavy!) should all be considered. It’s hard. Your muscles will be on fire. Your lungs will be screaming. And it doesn’t get easier, but you do get better.
4. You know all those cliche motivational fitness quotes you see on Pinterest? They’re all true.
You know what I’m talking about. “Train insane or remain the same?” True. “If it doesn’t challenge you, it’s doesn’t change you.” Also true. “Fall in love with the process and the results will come.” Yep, that one too. “It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.” You get the idea.
5. There are no pills or supplements that will give you quick, long-lasting results.
As convincing as those ads for the latest fat burner or appetite suppressant may be, don’t get sucked in. They don’t work. There are no shortcuts. You have to eat right and workout hard, more or less every day, for the long term. That’s the only way. Find something you enjoy doing and set fitness-related goals rather than weight loss goals. Fitness is supposed to be enjoyable and there’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment after a hard workout.
Don’t waste your money on any pill making to-good-to-be-true claims, because indeed, they are too good to be true. And fitness is fun, so why would you want a shortcut anyways, right?
As for supplements, they’re meant be used as supplements to an already healthy, balanced whole-food diet. Do your research, don’t rely on them entirely and know that although some are helpful, they’re not required to see results.
I didn’t want this post to be discouraging but you do have to be realistic and honest with yourself. You can’t completely change your body or hugely improve your fitness level on a 6-week “Lose Flab Now” fitness plan. I would say it takes at least 6 months of dedicated hard work to start to see real change, but you should look at 1-2 years if you’re just starting out on your fitness journey. If you’ve been trying to lose weight and you’re not seeing results, take a really good look at your diet and the quality and frequency of workouts:
Are you working as hard as you could be?
Are you eating healthy meals 80-90% of the time?
Are you drinking plenty of water and minimizing alcohol and soda?
Are you skipping too many workouts?
Are you sticking to a whole food diet and minimizing sugar and highly-processed foods?
Are you getting enough sleep and managing stress?
If you’re unsure where to begin, I’d recommend hiring a personal trainer at least to help get your started. If that’s not possible for you, try group fitness classes. Do lots of research, find ways to stay motivated, surround yourself with positive people who inspire you, read motivating fitness and nutrition blogs, seek out a registered dietician or nutritionist to help you with your eating habits and take responsibility for your health.
Results = Sweat every single day + Eat healthy, whole foods close to 100% of the time
There’s really no other way around it. Anyone who’s gone through a major transformation will tell you the amount of dedication and long-term commitment it really takes. I don’t think it gets said enough – IT’S REALLY HARD WORK AND IT TAKES TIME!!
If you can get on board with that, achieving your health and fitness goals is 100% possible. Throw the “quick-fix” mentality out the window and get ready to be in it for the rest of your life. Yep, the struggle is real. But we’re all in it together.
All that being said, if you need to lose weight for health reasons or you just want to feel better and have more energy, by all all means, go for it! However, learn to love your body and enjoy the process along the way. If you’re at a healthy weight but want to be more toned and muscular, try setting fitness goals rather than weight or size goals. Maybe you want to be able to do 20 pushups by January 1st, or squat 200 lbs by next Summer, or do 5 pull-ups, or hold a plank for 2 minutes or build up to 6 solid workouts a week.
Focus on goals like that, break them down into smaller steps, make a plan, stick to it and results will come naturally. And always try to keep perspective with what’s important. Training hard and eating right should be done because you enjoy it and it allows you to live life to the fullest. And most importantly, do it for yourself, because you deserve it.
Now it’s your turn: What do you think are the keys to long-lasting health and fitness success? Leave your answer in the comments!