Let’s be honest, it can be difficult starting a new healthy diet and regular exercise plan, and even more so when it doesn’t make you feeling awesome straight away. Why can’t just the one gym session give us abs?!
If you feel like Superwoman during your early morning spin class then good for you, but perhaps you’re like the majority of people who feel (and look) more like Shrek; it can be tough to keep up a new regime that you’re not used to. We’re not going to lie here, starting a new exercise routine is difficult, and coupled with a restricted diet it’s going to feel even harder. But stick with it. It’s important to live a full, healthy life, and you’ve already made the first step – you’ve begun. It may seem tough at first but you will soon start to see changes, both physically and mentally, it just might take a little time.
Depending on what your goals are, there are a lot of things that will affect how quickly your new exercise routine affects your body (and how quickly you start to actually SEE a difference.)
If it’s basic weight loss that you’re after, then you could see a difference on the scales in just a week; especially if you’re an exercise newbie. Your body will start to shed water weight quickly at first, meaning you could drop in 2-4lbs in the first week of exercise (if you’re working hard enough of weight loss course!), and after this, weight loss of around 2lbs per week is normal; and safe. If you’ve not lost anything one week though, please DON’T PANIC. Weight loss is not steady; it will speed up and slow down depending on the week, so keep going.
Perhaps you’re on a mission to build some muscle; tone those arms and lift that butt. The rate of muscle growth depends on a huge number of factors, including your starting point (how muscly you already are), your diet, the training methods you’ve chosen, your gender, age and even your genetics. Men have the advantage when it comes to gaining muscle mass due to their higher testosterone levels, but if your training programme and diet is on point, women can gain around 1lb in lean muscle every month.
If you’re looking to get generally fitter as a person and improve your cardiovascular fitness (your ‘endurance’), with regular cardio training you will see a boost in this type of fitness in as little as a week. Again, it will of course depend on your starting fitness, age, general health and workout plan, but your lung capacity can make epic improvements in under a month. Aim to get in regular, intense cardio 3-4 times a week and you’ll see an improvement for sure.
When it comes to healthy eating, it can be a massive struggle to cut down on all the things you love and start eating more body-beneficial things (wheatgrass anyone? Seriously, that stuff is gross). But once you cut the crap, you really will see changes quickly.
You’ll start to feel less bloated and sluggish after a meal when you choose better ingredients and work a little portion control. Your body will be fueled with useable nutrients, rather than empty calories and so you’ll feel more energised; and that energy is going to last much longer. Eating more real foods (think lots of vegetables, wholegrain carbs, healthy fats and lean protein) will keep your blood sugar level steady all day, so you won’t get those mid-afternoon crashes, which will lead to less mindless snacking and binging later on.
After a few weeks of consistent healthy eating (even with the odd naughty treat takeaway), you’ll see a difference in your appearance – your tummy will probably be flatter and your skin clearer. Your digestive system should be working at optimal level too, as the increased fibre and water (from all the veg) will help keep everything running smoothly. Your cravings for junk food will start to lessen as your body appreciates being nourished with real, whole, clean foods and your improved energy levels will keep you awake, alert and ready for anything!
Months later, the chances are you’ll have lost weight, and it’ll keep dropping off at a steady (but slow and sensible) rate. Your blood pressure and cholesterol will fall to safer levels and you may even notice less joint pain where your reduced weight takes less effort to move around. Because of your better nutrition and body-beautiful training programme, you’ll be less at risk from diseases such as heart disease and even cancer – a healthy lifestyle truly is a life-saver.
Eventually, healthy eating won’t be ‘healthy eating’… It’ll just be your new and improved way of life. Alongside a sensible exercise regime, you will start to feel better and see changes in as little as a week. Remember that it’s normal to have ‘off’ days though, so if you accidentally-on-purpose hit the wine a little hard one night and end up eating your way through your hangover, it’s not the end of the world. Just try to get back to it as soon as possible, and get on track again with your better way of life.
[As originally featured on Pretty52.com]
Sam Neades – Owner & Head Coach – Cheltenham Women’s Fitness