You’ve started eating clean(er) and training hard(er) and you are on a mission to lose some bodyfat. Assuming you have a solid nutrition and training plan, you are cruising along and feeling great. You check your skinfolds and measurements bi-weekly and to your excitement, they are slowly creeping down…
two weeks go by and they haven’t budged; nary a change anywhere. You go through a mental checklist in your head to make sure that your nutrition was on point and you didn’t miss a training session. It was and you didn’t.
You start to scrutinize your training and meal plan. “I’m not doing enough.” you think to yourself. “I need to eat less. I need to train harder. I need to do more cardio!” You’ve now worked yourself up into total hysteria and fired off an angry email to your coach expressing your dismay and dissatisfaction with the subject line titled, “EMERGENCY!!!!”
I’ve done it and you’ve done it. We go one or two measly weeks without making any significant progress and we immediately push the panic button and vow to do an overhaul of our entire program. We assume that everything that was so right just a week or two ago is suddenly all wrong!
Now let me be the first to sympathize when this happens. It’s extremely frustrating, especially because when you are dieting, a few weeks can seem like a lifetime! I hear it from clients (and admittedly, myself) all of the time, “But I’ve eaten clean for 6 whole days! Shouldn’t that count for something?!” Sure it should and it does! But big changes come from those 6 days of eating clean repeated over and over and over again.
I’ve gone weeks at a time without cheat meals and when it came time to check my skinfolds I pranced into the living room in my bikini as proud as a little show pony, and when the results came in I’d be upset that they were only down 1 – 2 mm. That is when I had to reevaluate my expectations. Losing 1 – 2 mm is great! It’s definitely moving in the right direction. And what did I expect? That I’d be completely shredded after sticking to my plan for 3 weeks? Not likely. But what will get me leaner is staying the course and losing those 1 – 2 mm time and time again.
I want you to think of somebody that has a physique that you admire. How long do you think it took that person to achieve that physique? Chances are good that it took months and months, and even more likely, years and years of being consistent and persistent. I’ll bet my favorite Tory Burch bag that that person did not obtain that smokin’ body after a mere few weeks of eating clean and training hard. That body came from all of those crucial little bits of progress that have added up over time.
So what is the right time table for fat loss?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but…there isn’t one.
That’s right. I’ll say it again for emphasis: There is no such thing as the “right” amount of fat to lose in a certain given time frame. So next time you exclaim that you haven’t lost enough bodyfat that week I want you to ask yourself, “According to whose standards?” The amount of fat that will be lost varies drastically from person to person. You and your best friend may be following very similar programs and your friend may lose a little less weight than you over the course of a month. That doesn’t mean she is doing anything wrong – it just means that your bodies are different. The next month she may lose a little bit more and you may lose a little bit less. That is normal.
When we test our bodyfat or take our measurements (notice I do not mention the scale) and nothing has changed in the last week or two, the first thing that we need to do is remind ourselves that progress is never linear. Progress comes over extended periods of time in the form of fits, flatlines, and spurts, and this is completely normal.
Don’t Give Up
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make on their quest for fat loss is throwing in the towel and diving headfirst into a cheesecake after just a few weeks because they get impatient and frustrated. While stalling for a week or two is certainly frustrating, I can assure you that quitting will definitely not get you any closer to your goals! It’s important to stay the course and keep on pushing through.
This post is not to burst your bubble and make you think you will be grinding out bodyfat at a snails pace for eternity; absolutely not. My goal is to encourage you to stay on course and keep working hard during these little plateaus that will inevitably make an appearance here and there.
Losing bodyfat can be a very tedious task. Remember that there is no golden rule for the amount of fat you should lose over the course of a week or two. Progress, regardless of how minor, is still progress and those small things eventually add up to very big changes. We could all benefit from looking at physique transformations as a marathon and not a sprint. Set realistic expectations and know that your journey towards your goal will be full of peaks and valleys and the most important thing you can do is stay the course and keep working hard. If 3 – 5 weeks go by and you still aren’t making any progress at all then that is the time to start looking at small tweaks you may want to make to your nutrition plan, training plan, or both.
I’d like to invite you to be consistent with your nutrition and training for one full year and see the amazing changes that will bring!