When you can’t see results

Published 9:30 am Monday, May 8, 2017

More than four months have passed since our well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions for better health.

Are we encouraged by our progress, or discouraged by our lack of results?

Maybe you have worked hard at losing weight, but the number on the bathroom scale is not changing fast enough. You wanted to drop at least one pants size by summer, after all.

Take heart — if you feel like you have hit a wall, first focus on the benefits that you can feel, and then consider strategically changing one or more aspects of your workout regimen.

Sometimes, in our obsession with reaching a number, we overlook the “invisible” benefits of exercise. We can enjoy these positive differences after just several weeks of regular workouts: increased energy levels, better sleep and improved mood, to name a few.

Although we cannot see our hearts and lungs, regularly raising our heart rates strengthens our cardiovascular systems, which helps prevent heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Although we cannot see our bones, regular strength training condenses them, which helps prevent osteoporosis and breakages from falls.

Have faith in these unseen benefits, and as they say, “Keep Calm and Carry On”!

The second, more practical point to consider, is that we may need to up the ante.

Strategically adding to the amount or type of exercise we perform can be key to improvement. Our bodies adjust to the demands placed on them, and we must make gradual increases on these demands over time in order to experience progress.

One word is essential here: gradual. If your exercise sessions feel easier now than when you began, try upping one or more of these four training variables: Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Mode — otherwise known as the FIT(M) principle.

Frequency: The number of times a week that you exercise. To increase the frequency of your workouts, simply add one more session.

Intensity: The difficulty level of the exercise. A prime example of progressive intensity is a bodybuilder who regularly trains by lifting a slightly heavier weight.

Time: The duration of the exercise session. Adding a few more minutes to the time that you exercise is a simple way to gain greater health benefits.

Mode: The type of activity you perform. Trying out a new type of exercise can be a great way to experience fresh results.

Let’s apply this FIT(M) progression principle to a real-life example.

Since New Year’s Day, Maggie has been walking three times a week during her lunch break for 20 minutes. Now, these walks feels easy, and she wants to lose some weight.

How could Maggie safely and gradually increase her workouts using FIT (M)?

Frequency: Add a fourth walking session.

Intensity: Choose a more challenging route, perhaps with more hills.

Time: Increase her walking time to 25 minutes.

Mode: Add a 20-minute strength training session using light weights.

Please come see us at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA with any questions about your health and wellness goals.

This summer, join us for free fitness classes at Riverfront Park in Niles — the perfect method for changing your Mode!

Chrissie Kaufmann is a certified group fitness instructor at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA.