by Katie Barnes
Slow-Change is the Shortcut
Have you ever wondered how long it should take to reach your fitness goals?
In the last 20 years, our world has become obsessed with three things when in pursuit of what we want: the speed of getting it; paying the lowest cost; and spending the least amount of personal effort acquiring it. It may sound like the holy grail of gratification- so why should we question its validity when deciding on a fitness program that promises such ideas?
The main problem lies in the fact that a human body is already an amazing and complex machine of processes, an intricate, innate system of checks and balances that keeps us alive while we get on with our external version of living.
Without our conscious help, the body takes specific time to do many things we take for granted such as: produce antibodies to fight a cold; cells to heal a wound, time to grow tissue and to properly use and digest food. Unable to control these involuntary actions, our best efforts are spent keeping its natural abilities optimal by maintaining good health, enough exercise and rest.
Take the genius of conception. Nine months of forming, growing and changing precedes almost 20 years of developmental time needed to reach adulthood. We accept that it takes this time to become ourselves and to parent our children. Amidst the joys, these processes can be uncomfortable, scary, unsettling, exhausting, frustrating…learning can be hard… yet we take these journeys anyway, knowing that in the end, they will be worth it.
So then, from a physical standpoint, it would seem outlandish, even futile to think that we should or could induce any immediate physical metamorphosis based on a sudden, superficial desire. We are just not wired this way… unless pushed into “fight or flight” emergencies that release stress hormones for our survival; or into starvation where the body also goes into lockdown, forcing normal metabolism processing to slow and hang onto excess fat and energy. Unable to dump the toxins produced by these states, the body is then challenged to make further physical progress until its regular functions return.
Since muscle takes time to build and fat takes time, work and diet to lose, genes and gender play an important role in how a body changes. Some people simply build muscle faster while others inherit a higher metabolism. Men tend to build muscle and often lose weight quicker and more easily than women, due to naturally large amounts of testosterone and stronger muscle ratios throughout their bodies.
As well as making a total health program into a habit, visible changes for both sexes are common in the first 30 days but on average, women tend to see real, lasting results in 6-8 weeks, sometimes taking up to 12 weeks when program commitment is poor. This time vs. result reality is one reason why many people give up way too soon. When the appearance of quick weight loss occurs in the firs 7-10 days, this is just an indicator that the body is losing water from its tissue, rather than actually losing any fat tissue or gaining lean muscle.
If we can stop racing to our goals, we will reach and surpass them without being sidetracked by the myth of “faster-cheaper-easier.” For the long term, it is our diet vigilance and patience in the process that will determine overall weight control and ongoing fitness success.
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