I was chatting to a potential new client this week who wanted to know about how long it takes to see results. It is a fair question and the first thing to note is what do you mean by results?
There are two parts to this, the first is how long does it takes to see the first signs of change and then there is how long will it take to get a significant shift within your body, e.g. achieve your goals.
The first issue is of importance as the sooner you see a positive change, however small, it gives you encouragement that you are on the right path and fuels your motivation to move forwards. The expected timescale of initial changes depends of course on what facet of your body you are looking at, the major traits are summed up below –
Body Fat – You can normally see a body fat change within 5-7 days of eating less food than you need. As most people are awful at seeing their own body change then perhaps it will be take a couple of weeks to notice progress. The early stages of body fat losses almost always are not from your worst areas but they are still noticeable if you are looking in the right places.
Muscle Size – Gaining muscle is so slow, you will usually need a month to begin to notice signs of genuine muscle growth. You may notice faster results if your training activates any sleeping muscles you have because the blood will return to this area and stay there. This makes it appear like they have grown quickly. Also, if you are gaining muscle while eating in a large calorie surplus (bulk phase) you will appear to grow fairly quickly, in reality you are getting fatter quickly while gaining muscle at the usual slow rate that muscle growth happens at.
Fitness – It is fairly quick to see some fitness element changes. Strength wise you should see some improvements, albeit small within 2-3 weeks and aerobic fitness within similar time frames. Flexibility and muscle activation methods can show improvements within days of starting a new routine if you do the appropriate exercises.
Bloating – Based on how you change your foods and the factors affecting bloating, e.g. stomach bacteria issue (slow to fix) vs sleeping stomach muscles (quick to fix), you can see an improvement within a few days of starting a routine.
Energy – Again it can take only a few days to change your energy levels. Through eliminating certain foods, exercising or focusing on your sleep etc, you can create a positive change in energy levels within just 2-3 days.
Motivation – As your motivation is mostly a mental construct you can turn this around in a matter of minutes. The moment you commit to something can create a shift in your feelings. This does not necessarily change into long term and maintained motivation but it is a start.
Motivation is as much what you do, as it is, how you think or feel. For those who are not motivated you can usually turn around your motivation within 7-10 days by doing actions within food, exercise and lifestyle, the key is just doing something in some form despite not wanting to do it.
This is of course the crux of the problem, how do you get yourself to do something you don’t want to do? There is no easy answer to that one but most people go to work everyday and they don’t want to, so it is not like you are unable to do something out of alignment with your feelings.
Health Traits – There are a large variety of traits you may be trying to improve on a health drive from dry skin to asthma or addressing high blood pressure etc. In general you would be looking at perhaps a couple of weeks for some traits up to a month or two to see positive changes in other areas.
Feeling Healthy – As this is something you perceive it does not need to take that long to feel more healthy. A few simple changes in behaviour and you can be feeling better within a few days.
Factors Affecting Initial Changes
There are various factors that affect noticing all of the above possible changes. These include
If Changes Occurred – Obviously if nothing has actually improved you will be a long time waiting to see a change. Starting a health drive doesn’t mean you automatically drop into the right behaviour pattern to produce results. If nothing has genuinely changed then you will need to change your plan or increase your adherence to it.
Ability To Spot Change – Whether you are able to identify changes relates to how well you can judge your body and therefore your potential to notice changes. Many people are not that aware of the body at all so it takes a much bigger change for you to notice results.
I have lost count of how many people I have seen lose 2% body fat in the first couple weeks of their plan who could not see any change at all. This is quite problematic as they feel demotivated about the ‘lack of results’ yet if they continued the exact same plan for a few more weeks they would have created a great body transformation.
Why is this important?
If you understand how quickly you can see a change in the traits above it should motivate you to commit to a health drive. Almost every trait described above is fairly quick to give initial signs of change. If you committed today by the middle of next week you will be feeling and seeing all sorts of positive improvements in many traits and within a couple of weeks in almost every trait.
The other reason initial changes are important is that if you still haven’t seen any changes after a period of time then it suggests your plan of action, or ability to follow it is not where it needs to be and you need to change something.
Photo – I did a good course on preparing athletes for bodybuilding shows at the LRF Bodybuilding Gym, an old school gym with blasting music and videos of famous bodybuilders.
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