you're on a weight loss program. Unfortunately, it's an inevitable fact of life.
Luckily, you've got me here to tell you that, as long as you're following a
solid program, results will come. It's a physiological certainty (unless you
have an underlying issue, like hypothyroidism).
I realize this might take further convincing, considering our
instant-gratification society. But this ain't my first weight loss rodeo. I've
seen almost every scenario you can dream up, most of which were solved by
patience. That said, there are some strategies you can use to ensure
you're getting the most out of both your diet and exercise program. Let's tackle
five of the most common weight loss conundrums
- I'm following the program perfectly. Why isn't it working?!
Cortisol is a word you should become familiar with, as it's a key
factor here. You've probably heard that it makes you fat, but you have no idea
why "they" say that. What is cortisol? It's actually a performance-enhancing
stress hormone that serves an important function in survival situations.
Unfortunately, when we force too much daily stress on our bodies, we shift into
a state of chronic cortisol release. This can cause us to store excess fat as a
survival instinct. While it sounds pretty dire, it's generally only a serious
problem in those with poor lifestyle habits.
The beginning of a diet
and/or exercise program, however, is a survival situation. In a very
simplistic sense, your body releases cortisol, which, in turn, causes excess
water retention to help you rebuild broken down muscle tissue. While this is
cortisol functioning properly, it does lead to a period of water weight gain as
you adjust to a new program. It's nothing to worry about. By following a solid
plan, your body will adapt by repairing this muscle tissue. This results in an
increase in your metabolism and leads to weight loss if that's your goal.
The trick is that there is no hard line on how long this adaptation
takes. It's based on your individual parameters. Just rest easy in the fact that
it will happen, unless you force it not to, leading us to . . .
- I'm barely eating.
Severe undereating causes cortisol
release, as it's the definition of a bodily emergency. Beachbody® offers many
kick-start (or express) eating plans where you undereat for a few days, but
you're always encouraged to get back to a solid maintenance calorie level
quickly. A short period of strategic undereating with proper hydration will help
your body dispense of unneeded food (most of us chronically overeat) and
regulate bodily functions. Go too long, however, and chronic cortisol release is
This is a tough situation because our natural reaction to
weight gain is to eat less. When you're exercising, it's important to keep your
eye on workout performance, as opposed to how much weight you're losing. You
should be eating enough so that your daily workouts improve over time. As long
as that's happening, your body is adapting, your metabolism is increasing, and
you will lose weight provided you also don't overeat.
- I've been doing hard workouts for weeks.
On the performance theme, you need to continually improve, which is why workouts get harder as you move
through any of Beachbody's programs. It's also why we add resistance (via added
weight or gravity, as is the case with jumping) to workouts. If you're doing the
same workouts at the same intensity constantly, you are not forcing adaptations
that lead to changes in your metabolism. This is called a plateau.
A plateau, technically, isn't gaining weight—it's remaining the same—but a proper
diet and exercise program should continually force improvements (in the form of
adaptations). Otherwise, your metabolism won't continue to increase, which is
the goal of most weight loss programs.
- My friend and I are doing the exact same thing and she's losing.
Back to adaptation. We all react differently. The only absolute is
that our bodies will change over time with a healthy program. A fitness rule
called the Specificity of Adaptation states that it takes the body between 3 and
12 weeks to adapt to new stimuli, which is a very broad range. This is why it's
vital that you stick to your program and not change it repeatedly based on your
In our test groups, two-week results have almost no
bearing on who does best in the end. In fact, many people that undereat early
and get off to a fast start will stagnate, while those who stick to the plan and
eat as advised will start slower but train harder over time, leading to rapid
weight loss as the program wears on.
- I lost weight for a while but now it's stopped.
For ages on the Team Beachbody® Message Boards, this was our most frequently asked question.
You eat less to lose weight. Things are going great, but suddenly you plateau—or
start gaining. Odds are, your metabolism has slowed down in order to deal with
the decreased calories. You're starving your now fit body, so it's doing what it
needs to do to survive. The answer to this problem is pretty simple: eat more.
Again, this is a tough sell, so here's an example. One of our early
Success Stories lost 40 pounds during a round of Power 90®, eating only 1,200
calories a day. He then stagnated for a long time and was very resistant to
eating more, fearing it would kick-start a regression. We talked him into adding
calories until, finally at around 2,000 calories, weight loss resumed. It then
became so rapid he dropped through his goal, and about 20 pounds below, until
finally, at around 3,000 calories, he leveled out. Then a daily diet of around
3,500 calories a day got him to a ripped 175.
So the moral of today's lesson is to trust your exercise program—at least if
it's a Beachbody program. We've been doing this a long time and we know what
works. There are no magic bullets. Body transformation is based on making
consistent, healthy lifestyle changes. Do that and you'll never need to ask
yourself why you're gaining weight again.