ABC for Fitness Results

Sharon Rekieta, Fitness and Wellness Director - 4th October 2013

Scale won’t budge?  Pants still snug?
The answer is A-B-C!

So, you're working out all the time, you're not getting the results you expected, and you're wondering what's going wrong?

The answer might be as simple as A-B-C or Advance Beyond Comfort.

Consistent exercisers experience many physical and psychological benefits and most people claim that this promise of positive results inspired them to begin a fitness regime.  Looking forward to deltoid definition, a shrinking waistline and decreasing numbers on the bathroom scale represent powerful incentives for exerting effort.  However, after a few weeks or months of working out, the wonderful effects start to diminish or even disappear altogether.  Many would call this period a plateau; others might chalk it up to choosing the wrong activity; and some even blame it on their genes.  Whatever the reason, discouragement sets in, exercise loses its appeal, and fitness pursuits are prematurely abandoned.
Fortunately, the dilemma of diminishing returns has a viable explanation.  Our bodies benefit from even small amounts of effort in the beginning phases of exercise adoption due to physiological inefficiency.  Short walks or easy weight-lifting routines produce prompt positive changes because our muscular and cardiovascular systems are struggling to meet these unexpected and novel demands.  This struggle translates into the quick loss of a few pounds and inches.  However, once we adapt to the challenge, our physiological efficiency improves, energy expenditure decreases, and progress stalls.

An innovative plan to jumpstart our body into responding again is A-B-C.  Advance Beyond Comfort.  Although human nature frequently persuades us to settle into our comfort zone, progressive improvement requires us to step out of that cozy territory and push our limits.  For example, do you always run your three-mile route in a steady 27 minutes?  With A-B-C, you would choose several markers along the course, run very hard for a few minutes and then recover at your usual comfortable pace.  Do you usually pedal leisurely on the stationary bike while reading six chapters in the latest bestseller?  With A-B-C, set the book aside at the end of each chapter and pedal hard "against the wind" for several minutes.  This same plan will work with any type of activity.  The idea is to shake things up and surprise your body.  Brief high-energy workouts stimulate the physiological systems to activate the fat-fighting process.  And, this fat-fighting operation remains in overdrive after you have cooled down.
Advance Beyond Comfort is an effective method for receiving ongoing benefits.  Instead of exercising comfortably for longer lengths of time, workout for the same duration, but take the intensity up a few notches for brief periods.  Accept the challenge of varying your weight-lifting routine or running/biking/stairclimbing faster or performing more energetic variations of comfortable movements.  Your workout will definitely feel more difficult; however, the payoff of seeing those unwanted pounds and inches disappear will be worth the extra effort.