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Are You Getting Results from Your Workouts?

Posted in Crazy Wisdom,Workout on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 at 8:02 pm by flerly.

From Paige Waehner, Exercise.About.com

Are You Getting Results from Your Workouts?

In a recent poll I asked readers to vote on their most frequent reason for skipping workouts. The results? 31% of voters said they skipped workouts because they weren’t seeing results. So, what’s the deal? Are most of us really not seeing results or could it be something else?

Lack of results could be caused by any number of factors: your diet, your exercise program or unrealistic goals. The key is to figure out if you lack results because you need to change what you’re doing or change how you’re thinking.

What Are Your Goals?

The first thing to do is ask yourself: what is my goal? If your goal is to lose weight and you haven’t set a specific weight loss goal (e.g., four pounds in four weeks), that may be one reason it seems like you’re not seeing results.

If you don’t know how much weight you want to lose, how do you know whether the results you’re seeing are reasonable or not?

Many people go into weight loss with a vague goal of losing a certain amount of weight (e.g., 20 or 30 pounds) but without a specific plan of how they’ll lose the weight or even how much weight they’ll lose on a weekly basis. If you don’t have a specific goal, a reasonable timeframe and a plan to reach that goal you’ll never know whether you’re actually making progress or not.

If this sounds familiar, use the following resources to help you set the right goals:

Setting Goals
Setting Realistic Fitness Goals
How to Set Weight Loss Goals

And, remember, weight loss isn’t the only goal there is! In fact, you may be seeing and even feeling great results but, because you’re only looking at the scale, they might be passing you right by.

Next, check out other obstacles that stand in the way of weight loss success and learn what you can do to see better results.

I’m Not Losing Weight Fast Enough

One of the most obvious ways we determine exercise success is by tracking our weight. If we see the scale go down, we feel we’re on the right track. If the scale doesn’t move or, worse, goes up, we feel like failures. But a scale doesn’t always tell you everything you need to know and, similarly, safe weight loss will almost always be slower than you think it should be.

But, one thing to look at if you feel your weight loss is too slow is your calories in vs. calories out. At it’s most basic, weight loss is a numbers game…eat less and burn more, you’ll lose weight, right? Obviously, there are other factors involved, but, for the most part, controlling your eating and activity should lead to some kind of weight loss. So, with that in mind, what do your numbers look like? And is your weight loss too slow or is it right on track?

Why Weight Loss is Hard

Experts recommend we try to lose about .5 to 2 lbs each week, which sounds pretty reasonable. This means that you need to burn an EXTRA 1750 – 7000 calories each week (with either diet, exercise or both) in order to lose that weight. But, let’s look a bit closer at this weight loss thing and see why it’s not as easy as it looks. The following steps describe what you need to do to see steady weight loss:

Plan exactly how much weight you want to lose. You can use the steps in How to Set Weight Loss Goals but, for our purposes here, let’s assume you want to lose four pounds in four weeks.

Plan exactly how you’ll meet that goal. To lose a pound a week, you would have to burn an extra 500 calories a day, every day through diet or exercise or both. If you want to burn half with exercise and half from your diet, that means determining the activity you’d need to do to burn about 250 calories as well as how you can cut 250 calories from your diet.

Never stray from your plan. If you really want to lose four pounds in four weeks, you need to follow your plan every single day. If you schedule a rest day and don’t burn any calories with exercise, you need to offset that by cutting more calories from your diet. Similarly, if you have a cheat day and eat more calories, you would need to exercise enough to offset all those extra calories.

This is why weight loss is a lot harder than you think it is. If you really want to lose that weight you can either never stray from your diet and exercise plan or you must plan meticulously for those strays in order to offset the exercise you’re missing or the extra calories you’re eating. And you have to do this every single day.

Are your expectations too high?
Looking at it this way and noticing those splurges you’ve had or the rest days you’ve taken (and we do need rest days), maybe now it makes sense why you won’t necessarily lose a pound (or whatever your goal is) every single week.

It’s silly to think that you’ll never go out to dinner, never have an extra glass of wine, never miss a workout day. So, again, it comes down to you. If you really want to see these results, are you willing to do what it takes? It’s okay if you aren’t, but if that’s what you decide, then you also must decide to adjust your goals. If you want a splurge day or a rest day, realize that even if you kept to your exercise/eating program every other day, that splurge or rest is going to slow your progress. You’re either willing to stick with a strict regimen or stick with a less strict weight loss goal.

Don’t forget, the scale doesn’t always tell you everything you need to know. You might want to try different ways to track your progress.

I’m Losing Weight In the Wrong Places.

Yet another result that some would see as failure is losing weight from areas we’d like to keep the way they are. Most of us would love to be able to lose weight in one place without affecting any other part of the body. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t work that way. The body works as a whole and, therefore, it loses weight as a whole too. It just isn’t possible to decide you want to lose weight in your thighs, but not your arms.

If this is the situation you’re experiencing, you have some options. One is to continue with your exercise and healthy diet and let your body respond to that while enjoying all the other good things you might be feeling. Another option is to quit exercising. I think you know which option I recommend.

I’m Not Losing Weight in the Right Places.

Just like you can’t preserve areas of your body from losing fat, you also can’t choose where the fat comes off. Again, this fat loss thing really is up to your body and your genetics (among other things). That’s one reason spot training just doesn’t work: Adding more leg lifts to get rid of saddlebags or doing more crunches to get rid of belly fat won’t work.

Here again, you have some options. One, you could keep exercising and see what happens. Maybe you’re not seeing that fat melt away from your belly or thighs but it’s possible that, over time, you’ll see those stubborn areas change for the better. Another option is to just give up. If all you’re really after is a perfect, flawless body, you probably won’t get it from any exercise or diet program–none of us will! Of course, there is a final option and that is some kind of plastic surgery. Again…I think you know which option I would suggest.

The Time Factor

One more thing to look at when it comes to results is the timeframe you’re working in. Many people expect to see major changes after only a few weeks of exercise and healthy eating. The truth is, it really does take time for the body to respond to what you’re doing and a few weeks just isn’t enough. For most people, it may take months or years to see significant changes, so take that into account and ask yourself – have I given my body time to make these changes? Am I expecting too much, too soon?

Are You Really Not Getting Results?

Whether you’re successful is determined by the goals you set for yourself and the plan you come up with to reach those goals. If your exercise goal is to feel more energetic, you’ll probably feel that immediately after a workout. If your goal is to simply complete your workouts for the week, there again you have tangible results. If you did it, you succeeded. If you didn’t, you failed. If you expected to lose a couple of pounds in one week but didn’t complete your workouts or ate out more times than you planned, you now know why that goal didn’t happen.

The truth is, if we don’t see the results we want it’s almost always because our expectations are too high or because we’re not doing everything we should be doing to see the results we want to see. Even if the scale isn’t moving, does that mean you’re not getting results? Are you feeling better about yourself? Do you have more energy? Are you stronger and fitter than you were before? Are you lowering your blood pressure or cholesterol? If so, aren’t those results too?


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