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Why you aren't seeing results from your fitness program.

You’ve been eating healthy, hitting the weights and even doing cardio. Why aren’t you seeing results from your workout? If you’ve been working out for a while now or are new to exercise but you aren’t seeing the results you want, read on.

Let’s look at a hypothetical exerciser, “Karen.”

Karen goes to the gym to lift weights and run on the treadmill 4-5 times per week. She met with a personal trainer about a year ago who gave her a workout plan and general dietary guidelines. In the beginning, she saw great results. She lost about 8 pounds and felt great. But over the last few months, 5 of those pounds have crept back and she’s not looking as tight and muscular as she once did.

Karen knows she’s supposed to do 3 sets of 10 leg presses at 115 lbs, 3 sets of 10 biceps curls at 12 pounds, etc. She hits all the major muscle groups in her weight workout (which she’s done 3x/week for one year) and is done in about 40 minutes. Then she moves to the treadmill and watches TV while she runs two miles in about 20 minutes.

It sounds like a great workout. The problems? Karen’s mind and body are bored and she hasn’t pushed herself in over eleven months. She has no goal and doesn’t know which other exercises to do.

But most importantly- Karen never writes anything down!

That’s right. The key to a beautiful physique, weight loss and a stronger body is WRITING IT ALL DOWN!

In order to experience hypertrophy, or muscle growth, the average exerciser should be lifting weights they can lift about 8-12 times in one set. If Karen lifts 12 lbs for a biceps curl easily 12 times for two or three exercise sessions in a row, it’s time to increase the amount of weight she lifts. Karen’s biceps are no longer being challenged by her workout.

Here’s an example of what part of Karen’s workout sheet should look like when she fills it out.

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Improving Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Karen wants to run faster. How does she accomplish that goal? Easy- she just needs to run faster!

Karen finds cardio boring and tedious. She doesn’t want to do it and just counts down the minutes as they tick by. She knows that cardio can help her burn calories but she hasn’t seen much progress (and even a bit of weight gain) over the last few months.

Karen needs a goal and to, yes, that’s right- WRITE IT DOWN!

Even treadmill running can become fun and challenging for Karen once she starts to write down how fast she’s travelling each day she’s on the treadmill.

Here’s how she can record it:

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So just by picking up her speed 0.4 MPH, Karen was able to shave 1:15 off her total time on the treadmill. She could also have gone farther if her goal was to get to 20 minutes of cardio. Either way, she has pushed her cardiorespiratory system to make fitness gains. How else can Karen improve her cardiorespiratory fitness? By wearing a heart rate monitor, she can see how her heart responds to each workout and decide when to push herself more or back off on the intensity.

Diet Improvements

Now Karen needs to tackle her diet! She thinks she eats about 1800 calories per day. She downloads a calorie tracker and finds out that she really eats around 2600 calories a day. Whoops! According to the calorie tracker, her body requires about 2200 calories a day to stay the same weight (this takes into account her age, weight, workouts and activities of daily living). This positive calorie balance could explain Karen’s weight gain the past few months! Eating 400 calories over her metabolic needs each day will make Karen gain approximately 3.4 pounds per month. After tracking her food, she realized that eliminating her afternoon iced coffee with four pumps of sugar (80 calories) and 2 T of half and half (40 calories) was one way to cut out 120 calories immediately. She switched the coffee out for an unsweetened iced tea. She also started putting less butter on her bread at dinner (100 calories) and cut out her evening glass of wine (125 calories) to net a total loss of 345 calories consumed each day. Cutting out her nightly dessert will result in an additional deficit of 400 calories (total deficit of 745 calories/day from her original 2600). This will result in Karen seeing a weight loss of approximately 3 lbs in the next month.

· Needs: 2200 cal/day

· Eats: 2600 cal/day

· Eliminates: 745 cal/day

· Loses: 3 lbs/mo

Recommendations for Karen (or any exerciser) to start seeing results from her fitness regime:

  • Visit a personal trainer to get a new workout plan or join a group workout class, like Body Back at FIT4MOM Long Beach. Working out with others in a supportive environment will not only make working out fun, it will also offer a little friendly competition. She’ll also have the benefit of working out with a certified trainer who can help her stay on track during workouts.
  • Increase the amount of weight lifted each session. Keep track of it!
  • Wear a heart rate monitor during workouts to track cardiorespiratory progress.
  • Don’t forget to stretch after each exercise session!
  • Use a calorie tracker daily to determine how much food she is eating and stay within her caloric needs.
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