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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown
Nutritionist

Janet Aylott
Nutritionist

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant

Q.

No body shape change!

Hiya - really need some advice. I have been going to the gym frequently since the beginning of this year (I stopped over Xmas) - I do roughly 4 - 5 hours a week, combined morning and evening workouts. I do mixed gym work (25 mins on the treadmill, incline on 1.5, walk for 1 mins and run between 9-10.2mph for 5 mins and then back to walk for 1 min and so on. 10-12 mins of sit ups and a few mins thigh work). I also do Body Pump 2 times a week and try to do the occasional cardio class. I am also now trying to stick to the 1400 calorie day diet. Problem is that I am not noticing any change what-so-ever in my body shape! I would like to lose a few pounds and drop a dress size - want to be my normal size 6 (I am only 5ft 1). And I am aware that muscle weighs more than fat but my problem is as I mention, that my body is no more toned or defined. I feel like it's all pointless effort. Please help! I need result by July for my holiday :o( Thank you - Lydia

A.

Our expert says...

 

Hi Lydia
 
Firstly, well done on the exercise effort, you have a great variety of sessions throughout your week and this is important in order to train your different energy systems as well as work on muscle definition and toning.
 
The thing you must remember is that the body adapts at different speeds and can take time to register and provide visible responses to types of training.  It also takes time for the body to convert into a long-term 'fat-burning machine' and to show clear decreases in body fat and kilograms from a structured approach to creating a calorie deficit.
 
Often people want to see the impact immediately and it just isn't always realistic but equally doesn’t necessarily mean that something isn't right! One week you may lose 2lbs, then the next nothing and then the next 4lbs! Fluctuations in body water mass can vary by several pounds within a few hours. The timing of your "weigh-in" is also important as having gone without something to eat or drink for a few hours or having just been to the loo could make several pounds of a difference and give a low reading, whereas the opposite scenario could give a higher than actual weight - and the difference between the two results could be as much as half a stone!
 
The body is a science and you are now getting the science right. Focus on your heart health, how good you feel, the emotional release you get from your varied workouts and the power it gives you to be strong over what you consume on a daily basis. Equally, be careful not to create too big a deficit in calories that your body reacts with a fat-storing protective system!
 
Extreme deficits of weight in a given week can be as negative on weight control as over consuming as the shock causes the body to panic and hold on to fat stores in case the interpreted famine continues! This is a common mistake as people would always like to achieve things quicker, but you have to make sure weight loss is achieved at a rate that does not hurt your body as this weight loss becomes short-term and harmful in the long-term.
 
The interval sessions that you are completing at the gym are great as they teach your body and cardiovascular system to cope with extra stress, which ultimately improves fitness at a faster rate that steady paced exercise.  The only change I would make is to also add in some longer cardio sessions to keep the fat burning.  Slowly increase the time that you are completing your cardio workouts for up to around 45 mins. On these days there is no need to complete your usual full gym workout as well.  25 mins is good but maybe try to structure your week a little more like the following example:
 
Day 1: Cardio for 35 mins (steady state at about 70-80% effort)
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Your mixed gym workout session you described in your email
Day 4: Cardio 45mins (steady state at about 70 – 80% effort) Day 5: Body pump + core
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Your mixed gym workout session you described in your email or Body pump
 
Look at how your clothes fit you over the next 3-4weeks and don't worry if the scales aren't displaying the decreases in body fat that will be occurring. With all your exercise, there will undoubtedly be an increase in your lean muscle tissue which weighs more than body fat, so often, as people decrease body fat and drastically change their body shape and dress size; their weight can in fact stay the same for a long period of time!! Because of this it is important to just ensure you get your calories exercise right and have faith in what you are doing and not misinterpret figures that could wrongly demotivate you.
 
I hope this helps,
 
Kelly

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