When it comes to exercise appropriate expectations are the name of the game. If you expect too much too soon the battle will be lost because discouragement is a powerful demotivator. Instead, look at several metrics when measuring results. You will see that although the end or goal results don’t happen immediately – you are making incremental changes that, over time, really do make a difference.
Stay focused on the “why” of weight loss
Fitness is about so much more than jean size. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of chronic illness associated with obesity. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds losing just 5% of your body weight or ten pounds can reduce your risk of diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy weight loss happens at a rate of about 1 to 2 pounds per week. That means you can significantly improve health outcomes in just 5 to 10 weeks – not long at all when you really think about it. Ease the way and stay encouraged by celebrating at the 5 pound mark.
According to a Today Health and Wellness article, researchers at the University College London found that it takes the average person about 66 days to establish a new habit. The range among study participants was 18 to 254 days. The road to fitness is often not linear. While learning to adopt new healthy behaviors we may stop and start many times, which can delay results. That means, for most of us it will take some time to firmly establish the habits that support our fitness plans and goals.
Use this study to better understand the challenges you may face and to develop a realistic plan of support and accountability for staying on track. Your plan might look like 30 minutes of exercise, 3 times a week. When you achieve that consistently you have actually achieved a result – you will have established a good health habit. That counts because you won’t achieve the fitness level you are striving for without the health habits to support it.
You’ve come a long way, baby
Maybe you haven’t lost 20 pounds but maybe you can exercise for a longer period of time without stopping or getting totally winded. If you exercise consistently, you will begin to notice that you have more endurance in just 2 to 3 weeks. This short-term result will help you lay the groundwork for long-haul fitness gains.
As the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sure, you want to enjoy the fruits of your labor – and you will. Just remember that a lot happens between planting and harvesting. Use the in between days to celebrate smaller successes along the way. There will be many. Immediate results often include better stress and anxiety management, reduced risk of chronic illness, more stable moods and less insomnia. Stick with it and one day you may just find that you can also zip up that old pair of jeans.