I'm Exercising and Not Seeing Results...
(Q & A addressed & answered by Jillian Michaels. She answered it so perfectly, I just had to re-post it.)
Q: I have been using an elliptical trainer for 50 minutes with
my heart rate monitor attached either every day or every other day for
over 2 months. If I have not been on the elliptical, I have been active
with my two children most days. I have also been tracking calories,
keeping to an intake of around 1,200 to 1,300 calories a day. I have not
lost one pound! What am I doing wrong?
A: This is a common complaint: “I am counting calories and working out, but not seeing results.” Heard it a million times.
Here’s the good news, you aren’t gaining weight, so you are doing
something right. Here’s a little weight loss analogy to keep you from
becoming discouraged. I like to think of our bodies as a car with three
gears: drive, reverse, and neutral. When you are in drive, you are
gaining weight. When you are in neutral, you aren’t losing or gaining
and when you are in reverse, you are actively losing. You are no longer
in drive and have thrown the car into neutral, so regardless of how
ineffective you feel, you are actually making progress.
Now, the way we resolve your problem and throw your “car” into
reverse is through a process of elimination. First, you are likely not counting your calories
accurately. Most people eyeball portions, but don’t measure them out.
They graze throughout the day, but forget to count the small candy bar
they swiped off their co-worker’s desk. They don’t realize how many
calories are in an actual serving of something. For example, when their
drink says it’s 75 calories per serving, but it also says that there are
two servings in the drink — which makes the calories total really 150.
They take “cheat” days that end up wiping out all the progress (calorie
deficit) they created during the week. The list of possible mistakes
goes on and on. My suggestion here is to really drill down for a bit,
measure your portions, read your labels, etc. and make sure you are
Second, the elliptical isn’t a huge calorie scorcher and, adding
insult to injury, you’ve been doing the same workout for two months.
This means that your body has adapted to the exercise and doesn’t
require much energy to achieve the task at hand. Translation — you
aren’t burning many calories when you workout. Change up your workouts a
minimum of every two weeks, up the intensity every two weeks, and add resistance training
to your regimen. This will help you burn significantly more calories when you train.
Third, if all else fails see an endocrinologist. When you are
counting calories diligently and working out hard consistently
throughout your week, but not seeing results it’s possible you have a
hormonal imbalance. Metabolism function is all about your biochemistry.
It’s a delicate balance of hormones that control your hunger, your fat
loss and gain, muscle growth, and so on. It’s possible that you are
insulin resistant, struggle with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome),
have low thyroid function
and so on. There are many conditions of this sort that can affect your
weight loss, so getting your levels checked by a board-certified
endocrinologist can help get you the answers and solutions you’re
looking for — or at the very least rule these concerns out.
On the muscle gain question, I highly doubt it. First off, you
aren’t lifting weights, so the chance of your building muscle is slim.
Additionally, while women can gain muscle, it’s tough because we don’t
have the androgenic hormones that men do. For women to do so, we often
have to be lifting heavy weights and have a calorie surplus. You can
burn intramuscular fat and condition your muscles, making them stronger
and leaner, but the chances you have actually gained mass being a woman,
eating very little, and not lifting is extremely slim.
Ultimately, remember that one pound is 3,500 calories
Many times people don’t realize that their active metabolic rate isn’t
that high above the calories they are consuming. For example: if your
body is burning 1,400 calories a day without fitness, then you add the
elliptical in and every other day your total calorie burn is 1,600, this
would mean that over the course of the month you have a calorie deficit
of roughly 5,000 calories (based on your 1,200 to 1,300 calorie per day
intake). That’s only about 1.5 pounds. This is why accuracy with
calorie counting is critical and intensity during training is the key to
seeing the results you are looking for. Those two factors, when
mastered will deliver the results you are looking for.