One of the most frustrating parts of starting an exercise/work-out/diet program can be not seeing results fast – or at least not fast enough. The ironic part too is that the better shape you are in to begin with, the slower the results seem to come.
Individuals who are very over-weight will typically respond very well to the initial stages of any combination of diet and exercise because they usually begin by immediately eating less and hopefully burning more calories as well through weight training exercises. The caloric deficit created with better nutrition and a conscious effort to add even the slightest additional muscle creates a fat-burning furnace.
Those who start out already in decent shape, say in the 16% body fat range for males and 20% for females, will see results the same way, just a less dramatic change. Simply consuming fewer calories than you burn will create weight loss, perhaps losing muscle as well as fat if no resistance exercise is involved, but weight loss nonetheless.
One mistake too many people make is starting an exercise program without knowing their Body Fat Percentage. This figure is more important, in my opinion, than how much an individual actually weighs. Because muscle weighs more than fat we may be hoping that a person actually gains weight or stays the same, assuming that weight gain is lean muscle. Remember that muscle is alive while fat is dead, it sits there and weighs you down, typically settling in the abdomen of men and legs of women. Muscle is alive, moving, growing, and is burning through calories 24 hours and day, 7 days a week.
This is why weight training exercises should be included with any program that one undertakes with the goal of “weight loss” . . . or more correctly, fat loss. Any weight loss program needs to be reconfigured in the theatre of your mind as a fat loss program, forget the weight. Building muscle also lessens the demand for us to create a calorie deficit through portion control because your required calorie intake can increase as your muscle mass does – meaning you may be able to eat slightly more while maintaining the same caloric deficit.
At some point during your body transformation journey you will need to mix things up because the human is intelligent and adapts to the stress we put it under. I typically change my workout program around every 10 weeks, when I feel I am no longer getting the same results, or if I simply feel stagnant. The same applies to strictly reducing calories, at some point your body adjusts to fewer calories and you run the risk of your metabolism slowing down to the point where you are storing more calories as fat – because your body is getting signals that it needs to store fat to avoid starvation. In cases such as these it is often recommended to actually eat more for a short period of time, so that we keep the body guessing as to what is coming next (that is the way caloric shifting works). Whether it is weight lifting or calorie counting, once your body adapts, it is time for change, and change is constant.
So remember, regardless of your physical condition right now, forget about weight loss and only concern yourself with fat loss from here forward. Take your time and find comfort in the fact that slow, sustained weight loss is weight loss that lasts, the quicker one loses weight the more likely they are to gain it back. Build more muscle now (yes you ladies too) so that throughout the day, even while at rest, you will be burning more calories than ever before, even at rest.