We’ve all been there. Laying in bed, mulling one of the modern world’s most enigmatic matters to a point that we can’t even sleep. How long does it take to get in shape? That question, when read aloud, is almost traumatic to hear. Worse than Fran Drescher as an auctioneer. Worse than using a rusty nail to write on a chalkboard.
You get it. I will stop the metaphorical onslaught now.
It all begins, sadly, when we see those diet advertisements making claims that we can “lose weight in 30 days,” or in many cases, much less. Fat loss supplement companies and weight loss programs often seem to rely on marketing that gives these rigid and exact timeframes. And that’s likely because we want that. Advertising is a funny thing, it often tells us exactly what we want to hear.
How Long Does It Take To Get In Shape?
If any program is promising that you can get in shape in 30-days, you might suspect some shady marketing. Often times, manufacturers of diet food items and gyms will tout their ability to reinvent your total being. But the reality is unless you are a full-time professional athlete, these claims simply aren’t that realistic. Time frame pitches are almost always marketing. It doesn’t mean that the program or diet won’t work, it just means that most likely the manufacturer simply can’t offer up any science supporting such claims. The claims are built to entice a purchase, not because they should be considered realistic scenarios.
But to help solve this puzzle, I decided to reach out to a popular Pittsburgh athletic trainer and “get the skinny.” Yes, I’m a pun wizard, my friends. Marc Sestok, co-owner of a popular Pittsburgh gym, Tedesco Body shop, gave an insightful (and notably scathing) reply to those who have been indoctrinated by the “get in shape fast” marketing mantras. According to Sestok, you might have to grind for it.
“Anyone who says ANYONE can get in shape quick is 99% full of $#%… It is possible to get rapid results towards a fitness goal, however, those cases are the exception and certainly not the rule.
If a former elite athlete doesn’t train or eat right for years and then all of a sudden they decide they want to get “back in shape”, he or she could do it much more rapidly than an average couch potato, sure. There are various reasons for this but a lot has to do with physiologic reasons…i.e. Muscle Memory.
The bottom line is this: your body is a homeostatic mechanism–it does not like change, it strives for consistency. Losing weight, building muscle, improving your health and just about any other fitness goal has to be done for the LONG TERM. Quick results don’t last, and lasting results aren’t quick.”
Sestok goes on to point out that part of getting into shape is acquiring new habits and disciplines.
“Get in shape FAST is bullshit mainly because it doesn’t imply that you’re learning a new lifestyle or habits. It doesn’t equate for maintaining your new level of fitness which is a much harder battle than initially reaching a goal, in my opinion. It’s the downfall of the western way of thinking—instant gratification. The “I want it now” mentality. It has no place for realistic goal setting in fitness.
Now, on the other hand, I have seen some amazing transformations in my time as a coach and trainer. These amazing transformations seemed to come very rapidly to outside observers of these people, but if you ask them how long they have been working on losing, say, 100lbs almost all of the big success stories I have seen personal have been cases of long term lifestyle change and habit management…usually coupled with psychological help at some point too. The facts are this: physical change does not come fast or easy. That’s just biology.”
I think he might be saying it takes actual work and dedication to get in shape. Who knew? For gym’s like Sestok’s Tedesco Body Shop, “keeping it real” likely cost them a few customers, but the model of achieving real results certainly means long term clients and customers. Tedesco Body Shop is just one gym of many that have popped up around the country and decidedly run counter to popular fitness marketing scams. And consumers are waking up and realize that their money is better spent with honest dieticians and trainers.
If you are searching for a gym and that gym “guarantees results” in short order, that should serve as a red flag.
How long does it take to get in shape, then?
Stop asking this question!
I’m kidding. Please don’t leave. But honestly, I’d say Marc Sestok really summed up what you need to know (so yes, it isn’t a terrible move to leave).
No one body is the same. No one physiological or mental makeup is the same. No ages are the same (well, you know what I mean). Starting weight and starting cardio matter (a lot). If someone is obese, dropping 20 lbs in one month might be a cakewalk if the person simply stops eating processed foods. But for the guy just trying to drop some belly fat, the results may not be similar. Additionally, an obese person may not be in the starting shape to take on many calorie burning exercises. They may have to work their way up to jogging or lifting weights. They may have to reduce joint inflammation through a diet of greens and lean meats. There are just too many variables to consider. This makes timeframe claims pretty irresponsible and invalid.
In 2004, a group of researchers set out to attempt to solve the puzzle of how long it takes to get in shape (study). They used 25 sedentary men and a timeframe of 6-weeks. The men were placed in a six-week exercise program. It consisted of 30 minutes per day high-intensity strength training and 20 minutes of cardio.
When it ended, the researchers rated appearance changes. They noted no changes. The men’s own optic ratings were the same, “no change.” And the numbers reflected similar capacity (body fat and o2 efficiency), they were unchanged.
Now that news can sound rather dreadful. I mean, if you work out daily for six weeks, you likely want to know there are some results. One thing you shouldn’t take away from all of this is that working out is futile, the point is, you shouldn’t expose yourself to scammy marketing.
If you want to get into shape “fast,” you are going to need a lot of time to play with. Considering most of us have jobs, that might not be an option. Doing daily workouts, even in the short-term, should most certainly help you get into better shape. You might begin to notice that you aren’t out of breath carrying the water bottles into your home, or walking up and down steps. You will notice your workouts getting perceptively “easier” to endure. These are all indicators of being in better shape.
Stop Worrying | Slow And Steady Wins The Race
I know it’s a saying we often hate to hear, but it really is true. Make lifestyle changes that you know you can live with on a daily basis and good things will happen (just not overnight). Slower changes usually indicate a change that’s less likely to be broken. In other words, you are more likely to keep up the change for the long term. Your body does better with consistency in health, rather than bouncing from fad diet to fad diet.
Life is full of ‘lose weight fast’ advertisement campaigns. That stuff makes people a lot of money. Sometimes it may work, but the truth is, you aren’t likely to keep any weight off in this manner. You can’t get into shape quick. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it. And they aren’t. This is how you separate from the herd: hard work. You commit.