Following my last post The annual fat loss frenzy, a lot of people asked me questions about almost anything related to how they should start their journey. Since most of them were true beginners, they also wanted to know what to expect which is a great question in itself. What this means is that they want to know how to look and manage the external forces being thrown upon them along the ride. Expecting the unexpected as they say.
Once you have a detailed plan of how you should start and where you want to go, the tough part is just around the corner, observation. In other words, you are looking for something you have no clue about. So let me help you the best I can to guide you on what to expect when you start, what to expect, and how to deal with it the best (not the easiest, I repeat, not the easiest) way possible.
First week is always the honeymoon. You feel like your beating your demons. You can’t fail, it’s impossible. You get in the gym all fired up and ready to kick some ass. Day one is awesome. You already feel leaner and more energy. You slept like a log and you even woke up the following day with renewed energy and vigorous health.
How you go the first week will often dictate your success or failure. Most people will go and do 30-40 minutes of treadmill and a few abs exercises for that belly of theirs. Those who got a program will follow it without noticing any change, nothing but soreness and even impaired mobility at times. Some will like it and think it is the result of a great training program (but not limited to) and others will think that it’s not normal, something is wrong. One thing is for sure, the first 3 weeks, just don’t ask yourself too many questions. However, let me give you some quick facts.
1. First few weeks could be called adaptations. Your body will get used to it, but it takes time. That is why you can’t do too much, or if your trainer makes you go all out in the gym, he’s just trying to prove that he is good, not actually helping you.
2. You might feel better, you might even think you lost weight. Maybe…but the thing is that at the beginning, don’t get fooled into thinking that you can lose ten pounds in a matter of days. The first few pounds are water weight. You might have lost a few pounds on the scale but aim to lose fat as well. This is why hiring a coach comes in handy. We can measure body fat which is a better indicator of weight loss than just the numbers on the scale.
3. If your trainer doesn’t believe in body fat assessments, run away. He is scared of showing you results, that he might not be able to give you, real results.
4. Don’t be a monkey see, monkey do. This is generally 80% of the new gym population in January. You look at someone do a great exercise and think that you should do it too. Better yet, some will think they are smart(er) and copy someone who hired a trainer to go through a workout. They will think that they are the shit because they just have to watch them and without paying, get a great workout. We all know where they should go… Basically, they are copying someone else’s workout…We all know we are made the same…seriously…
5. No matter how you feel, get through it, don’t over analyse things but take notes, and this goes for your trainer too. A plan should be good for 3-4 weeks. Trying to change things around in the first few days can mix things up royally unless their is some injuries or uncontrollable circumstances.
Second week is great because this is were some will start to fall or just reconsider their new found resolutions. They will respect the fact that its not as easy as it looks to keep a few habits going. Most will start to change and lessen their resolution’s seriousness and numbers. Suddenly, the 20 pounds they wanted to lose is now 10-15 pounds. It’s enough because you know, at the rate they are going, they don’t want to lose too much (rolling my eyes).
However, honeymoon is over. This shit is tough man… Ok, your trying to figure out how you can fit this in your schedule, which you did in the first week easily, but suddenly again, things and priorities change, or is it just because it is becoming less convenient?
There is so many factors influencing your health that it takes a few years of knowledge to know your way around these barriers. Although I can’t tell you exactly what are the problems and how to fix it, let’s look at the big picture and try to at least, show you how to move your way around and even, recognizing and preventing these barriers to happen.
6. Listen, some of us have been doing it for more than 20 years and even more. So realistically speaking, your little 2 weeks are really just the tip of the iceberg.
7. Now there must be some “symptoms” coming up. Like trouble sleeping, cravings, energy crashes during the day (especially in the afternoon). Reason #245 of hiring a coach when you start.
8. Trouble sleeping could be caused by many things and trying to point out one little thing, THE thing YOU need is impossible for me to find and explain in one post, reason #246. You might be working late at night on your computer or pad, which could wire you up and setting your brain to wake up, instead of falling asleep slowly. Your energy crash during the day could be the cause of energy imbalance, not eating enough for example which is the main problem of the early january crowd. They think that eating less will make them lose weight, which leads me to my next point.
9. NO, eating less is not the answer to your weight problem. Eating less crap is. Even though I don’t believe counting calories should be in someone’s habits, it can often be a great teaching tool to better visualise the big picture. Your metabolism requires a given amount of calories. A little deficit can help you burn fat and gain muscle, too much of a deficit does the opposite, often leave you gaining fat and in some cases, lose muscles (again, it’s way more complicated than it sounds). So what needs to be done is find out your BMR including your activity level and make sure you are just under 300 to 400 calories under.
10. The best thing to do is to start eliminating one bad habit. You started training and be active, so that’s a big step, but will not be enough for you to keep going at a natural pace and keep the results going. If you don’t eat in the morning, it should be one of your priorities. If you eat cereals, bagels or the usual breakfast of champions, peanut butter and jam toast and a coffee on the go, change that up to the Meat and nuts breakfast. If you play on your computer late at night, Facebook or twitter your social life around before going to bed, stop that right now. The light from your computer wires you up. Your night time routine should be to dim the lights an hour before bed, and take a chill pill. Quality sleep will right there waiting for you.
Third week, now it’s personal. The little demon on your shoulder is trying to lure you in, to give up already, to skip the workouts. You are feeling a little tired of always repeating the same thing. It’s getting harder to follow the schedule. It’s funny how there is always some events to comes and let you scrap your diet. That snooze button keeps getting pushed in the morning as if your playing Call of Duty on PS3. You start looking for cheat codes and short cuts. You asks around if anybody has the magic pill.
It never did and will never exist. Not too long ago, a diet and supplement program called Visalus (Where are they now? They vanished as fast as they appeared) came out and claimed to be the new messiah of the diet world. Pyramid scheme that it was, they fell down like all the others, leaving people sick and played with their health, like all the others who claimed the same. Amazingly enough, they often come out all guns blazing, conveniently timed after Thanksgiving, or the holidays. We can’t forgo the fact that Visalus was first and foremost, a marketing project… It says it all.
11. You are looking for short cuts, there are none. You are looking for the magic pill, it comes with a price. The most popular ones are fat burners. Makes your workout look easier and they give the impression that you are loosing weight. Problem is that all of them has some type of appetite suppressant in the them, which makes you eat less. Might be good for some people but the problem lies in the details. You train more you eat less, go back to #9 and here you go. There is also the fact that it is not your energy. Boosted from the fat burners caffeine content, you get crazy workouts, endless energy but what are you going to do when you run out? They say on the bottle as a warning to do one bottle and then stop for a while not to get used to it. But you are stronger than that. You still try to stop them, but suddenly, your workout sucks and you can’t seem to find the energy to go train anymore. YOU NEED MORE…LIKE NOW!! And the energy roller coaster starts creeping in. Once the fat burner has done its effect, the crash in energy is inevitable. However, you can’t let it affect you, so more caffeine is needed. Redbulls and coffees are now required intravenously for you to get through the day. I think you get the big picture. Don’t use that sh*t. Eat well, train properly, be patient, and it will come.
12. If you are doing good, compared to the second week, the third one is a little better. Let me tell you a little secret. The second week is usually the worst because your body is not complying. He is detoxifying…hard. He is letting you now that something is going on. For a lot of people, you start feeling worst before you start feeling better. That
shit lifestyle you had, that crap you ate for the past months or year left a mark on your system, disturbed your hormones and had an impact on your health, and probably more.
13. If you did good and kept your new habits, you might be looking for the edge, not the magic pill. The time has come to change another habit. Again, I can’t help you much individually, but the main problem I see with a lot of people is that they fail to identify true priorities and get caught into doing what is convenient or comfortable. If you don’t have energy to train at night, go before work. Yes, I’m crazy to make you get up that early, but eating donuts was convenient, training early in the morning is not. Assume what you did, and do what you have to do to burn those freakin donuts off your hips and thighs.
Let’s stop at lucky 13 and next post will guide you through the last 3 weeks who could be the determining point. The point when you realize that you could be doing this for a while or if you’ll have to give up.
Talk to ya next week!