It has been almost a month since Sarah and I started the Extreme Transformation Program. We set some big goals because I know she can achieve every single one. Goals to lose weight, start running again, wiggle her toes on the beach in confidence, feel great about her body. I hate the scale, I’ll be honest. Too many of us define ourselves and our progress by this single reading (which fluctuates even by thinking about eating that piece of chocolate, right?) So, as a trainer, I use this number sparingly because there are so many other things to measure when it comes to our health.
One of the toughest parts about starting a weight loss program is not seeing results as quick as we want- especially when we do it the healthy way vs. a crash-course or starvation diet. I hear this all the time from my clients and they often give up just before the results come. It’s takes time and patience. I say this because Sarah and I had to talk through this frustration last week.
When it comes to weight loss, you need a good mix of both cardio and strength training to maximize results. Cardio workouts, such as running, spinning or boxing will burn a ton of calories during the workout itself, depending on how intense the session is. Strength training burns less calories during the actual session but fires up your “after burn” post workout so you continue to burn more calories the rest of the day. And by no means does lifting weights make you bulky. It takes a ton of energy for your body to add muscle. During the initial stages of any kind of intense training, especially one you’re not used to, your body releases excess amounts of the hormone cortisol, which causes your body to retain water. Some people think this means they are bulking up when, in reality, it’s just the body adapting to the training. It happens whether you are trying to gain or lose weight and has nothing to do with gaining actual muscle mass. Once your body adapts to the new training, the cortisol release ceases and your body flushes the excess water. And then you start to look slammin!
The key to weight loss is to change your metabolism. While it’s easier to alter your metabolism through weight training than cardio, both will do it if the workouts are well designed. The word you’re looking for to make this happen is intensity. By that, I mean you need to force your body to work in the anaerobic realm. Because your body depends on air to live, forcing it beyond its ability to breathe causes it to release performance-enhancing hormones to survive. When done consistently, these hormones change your metabolism.
So, when the numbers on the scale are not changing, don’t you dare give up. Remember that there are a lot of things going on inside your body to prep for this big moment. Let your clothing, not the scale, be your guide, especially if you’re exercising; muscle is more dense than fat, so if you’re exercising a lot, the numbers may stay the same while you find you need to tighten your belt a notch. If you follow a sensible and consistent weight-loss regimen, you will probably begin to see some results in a couple of weeks — no matter how small, let them be the motivation you need to keep going.
When Sarah began, she was not jogging at all, could only do 10 push-ups and a 15 second plank in the TRX. Now, she is training for a 5K in September (doing a 4 minute/2 minute interval jogging program for 45 minutes, 3x per week), 20 push-ups and a 1 minute plank in the TRX. And she has one proud trainer by her side!
Don’t let a number define you-be active, be healthy, be happy.