If I got a dollar for every time I heard a new client say: “If I don’t get results, I’ll lose motivation.” I’d be a very rich person. I hear it all the time.
I get it. You WANT results.
Most exercise and nutrition programs are commenced under an emotional state of dissatisfaction with one’s self and if you’re going to ‘flog yourself at the gym’ and ‘deprive yourself of all your favourite yummy foods’ then results are a big player in motivating you to keep going, despite the obvious discomfort. Marketing and false advertising of weight loss programs, not to mention strict diets and exercise regimes, have conditioned you to expect drastic changes to your body or your weight on the scales when you start a 12 weeks challenge or program.
Unfortunately, this is a VERY poor mindset to have when embarking on a nutrition and exercise program to improve your health and fitness. Why? Because real results take time. A lot of time. It takes weeks and weeks of a consistent, significant energy deficit to lose only a few kilos of body fat. Not body weight, body fat. And it takes weeks and weeks to build fitness and strength. It doesn’t come quickly.
One day of tough training and strict dieting does not suddenly equal health and fitness.
The problem with this mindset is, because they don’t get results quick enough, people start to doubt the process and give up. If they don’t give up, they might change tact and try another program. They might binge eat in frustration and start again the week after. They might try another meal plan, see another nutritionist, engage with another PT, join another gym or try another supplement.
Your desire for visible and tangible results may actually be sabotaging the real long term results you’d gain if you just knuckled down and stuck to the process consistently over the long term.
Lets talk about weight loss
True weight loss results (which is actually fat loss results) takes weeks and weeks of consistency. Especially, if it’s a program that’s been based on science and created by experts in the industry. Basing your motivation on the scales alone will only leave you frustrated and second guessing everything you put in your mouth. Eating something and then checking the number on the scales by weighing yourself the next day is NOT directly correlated. There are lots of different factors that effect the number on the scales:
- your age – we get heavier the older we get – denser bones, more muscles, more water retention… If you’re 40 you’ll not likely ever weigh the same as when you were 20.
- body water – changes all the time based on LOTS of different factors in and out of your control
- glycogen levels (carbohydrate stored in your muscles and liver)
- time of the month (if you’re a lady)
- if you need to do a wee or a poo – a good sized poo can be up to 1kg in weight and the average wee is 600-700ml!
- what you’ve eaten in the last 24 hours – it’s still in your gastrointestinal tract
- body fat – this level in the body changes the least dynamically. Meaning if takes TIME to see changes in these levels
Cutting carbs gives you false positive results
When you start a very low carb diet, your body is forced to use the stored carbohydrate in your muscles and liver, otherwise known as glycogen. In some people this can lead to up to 5kg of weight loss over the course of a week or less! Talk about results! We love getting on the scales and seeing that! The thing is, it’s not fat loss and as soon as you eat carbohydrate again (which you’re bound to) your glycogen stores will refill (because they’re supposed to and it’s a normal part of physiology) and you’ll put the ‘weight’ back on again. Unfortunately, your short-term mindset will make you fear carbs even more and you’ll try to cut them out again and again.
When people follow my meal plans because I don’t drastically cut their carbohydrates (especially if they’re exercising), they don’t experience these drastic initial losses. I have to talk to them about their expectations of the process and remind them that a healthy body comes as a result of a long term mindset!
You must learn to trust the process!
You must learn to base your motivation on other, more reliable sources and in the end, trust the process. I’ve had more clients than I can count stay super consistent with their new healthy habits and see the scales not budge for weeks and weeks on end. Then, all of a sudden it’ll drop. This pattern repeats for months. It’s only because they find their motivation from other sources that they keep getting results. They don’t let the number on the scales measure their success. They keep going. Had they given up earlier, they would not have gotten their great results in the end.
What’s crazy is that I also meet person after person who are exercising regularly, making great choices with their food and feeling really good in their body yet give up because the scales won’t tell them what they want to see! It’s ludicrous!
Who cares what the scales say? Basing your progress on that number tells you nothing about the health gains you’re making.
As far as I can see, you’ve got two choices:
- Staying with your current poor food habits and wandering around diet mountain, frustrated with your lack of results, or
- You can toss the scales and commit to repeating daily healthy habits for the rest of your life, regardless of what you weigh ( I bet if you stuck at something long enough, you would actually get the results that you’re after)
You can’t go wrong with habits like these:
- Choose generous portions of high quality whole foods
- Eat lots of vegetables
- Choose meals and snacks regularly throughout the day so you don’t get too hungry
- Stay committed to your exercise program, show up and give it your best