How Long Does It Take To See Results?
Whenever we get started with a new nutrition or fitness programme, we always have goals in mind such as to lose weight, gain weight, get stronger, be more flexible or have more energy.
We're keen to start seeing those results as soon as possible, but sometimes it requires a bit of patience! So how long does it take to see results when you start a new health regime?
Short answer: It's hard to say
There are so many variables it's difficult to provide you with an absolute answer. Some things that can affect how quickly you get results include:
- The intensity of your new regime
- How different your changes are from what you've already been doing
- How consistent you are
- How much potential your body has for change (i.e. a lot of weight to lose vs. not much, been a consistent exerciser vs. starting out from scratch)
- Your rest time
- Your stress levels
Your body won't change unless you give it reason to, but overdoing things can halt results as well. You need to be able to follow your programme consistently over a long period of time to see results that will stick. This is why we recommend to go for small habit changes that are easy for you to maintain, rather than completely overhauling everything.
As a rough guideline many personal trainers advise first you will feel the difference, next other people will be able to see the difference, and finally you will see the difference. Depending on your goal and how you're going about putting it into action this timeline could be anywhere from a matter of weeks to several months.
Why do some people get amazing results at the beginning of a programme?
When we first make changes to our nutrition and exercise habits, our body tends to go through an adjustment period. When we eat less salt, our body retains less water. If we are reducing our carbohydrate intake which is common in many weight loss diets, carbs use water to get transported into our cells so fewer carbs = less water weight. When we begin to exercise more we typically drink more water while we work out so our body holds on to less of it.
This is often a key contributor to why so many programmes can claim their followers lost 'x' kilos in just 2 weeks! The results may be true, but if they return to eating salt, having their normal carbohydrate intake, or miss workouts for whatever reason, it's easy for that weight to come back on.
Consistency is king
Don't get discouraged if you're not getting results as quickly as you would like - consistency should be the real end goal here and rapid results can be difficult to hold on to if you get them by changing too much at once.
Give yourself a break
Make sure you've planned recovery time into your fitness regime. Burnout doesn't help anyone, and it's even more important if you have strength goals in mind. Your body doesn't actually make the real changes during your training session - it happens in the recovery as your body heals (when you train muscle fibres tear, then repair stronger to be able to take a more intense workout the next time - it's why we get stronger, amazing hey?!).
We don't want our body to remain in fight or flight mode, it's essential that our parasympathetic nervous system activates to allow us to rest and digest.
How's it working for you?
There always needs to be flexibility for adjusting what you're doing. If it's been a few weeks and you feel like absolutely nothing's changing (and remember change can be internal or external!), it could be time to reassess whether what you're doing is taking you towards your goals.
That said, it can take a while for results to show sometimes, so don't change what you're doing after just a few days - keep at it for a decent amount of time to properly assess whether it's working for you. Most programmes need around four to six weeks of consistent action to really see change, however, you should start to see glimpses of whether things are on the right track by around two weeks. The key word here being 'consistent'!
Rome wasn't built in a day and your results won't happen in that timeframe either! Give your body permission to take its time with this change. Focus on having a positive journey and the little habits you can work on each day that will lead to your overall goal in a sustainable way.
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