Just recently one of my coworkers was getting married, and a large part of her daily focus was on her going to the gym to really work up a sweat, all with the goal of fitting into her size 4 wedding dress on her wedding day. Although I didn’t actually see her put in the time at the gym for myself, I did notice the drastic change in her appearance over those many months and was glad she was able to hit her goal and lose that weight.
However, just a few months after her wedding, I noticed that she was gaining weight again. And within a year’s time, she was basically back to the same weight she was at before she started exercising. It was obvious to everyone that she had stopped working out, and as a result she lost all of that progress she had made just to fit inside of her wedding dress.
Well I am here today to reiterate to everyone who has ever been serious about working out that doing so is about making a commitment for life. Now you might think that I am being overly hyperbolic, but it is true as evidenced by my coworker and her story, at least in part. In just a few short months, all of her progress was eviscerated, showing that to really make meaningful changes to your life, you cannot just rely on a short-term workout plan and hope that the results stick (although in my coworker’s case, I will admit that I do not necessarily know if she just wanted to lose the weight temporarily or lose the weight for good, although it would be safe to assume the former).
Most people who work out via weight training know very well that gaining muscle is not permanent due to the law of atrophy – in other words, if you stop training your muscles to lift heavy weights every so often, your body will allow those muscles to go back to their original size. But this same principle holds for people who focus on cardio more than weight training, albeit the way it works is a slightly different mechanism.
For people who do cardio, the reason cardio works is because it burns calories for you at an accelerated rate, allowing you to lose weight due to the created caloric deficit (i.e. you are burning more calories than you are taking in by eating). However, as soon as you stop doing your cardio workouts, that caloric deficit no longer exists, and you will slowly but surely start to gain weight again as you are likely to revert back to a slight caloric surplus. The weight will slowly pack on until you are back to the weight that you originally started, or in worse cases continue to gain weight beyond that point.
Unfortunately, many people think of working out as a quick fix to their health issues or their own body issues. They think that if they put in all of the hard work and effort and get their body (or their overall health) to where it needs to be, that they can just maintain it while going back to the lifestyle that they were living previously. And while this can sometimes work in the short-term, it inevitably will fail over longer periods of time.
If you want to stay in tip-top shape or have that amazing body that will make all of your friends jealous, you cannot just sit idly by, even after you’ve achieved your goals. However, what I can say to at least comfort those who may be dreading the thought of working out for the rest of their lives is that after a certain point, your goal changes significantly from making drastic changes to your body, to general maintenance of your body in its current state. Although you still need to work out and put in effort, the amount of effort doesn’t need to be as much as when you first started working out, which should be comforting to most people.
If you are serious about making yourself healthier, or getting a better looking body, working out is just about an absolute must. However, you need to also realize that working out is a real lifestyle change that can’t just be done in the short-term – if you want to fully benefit from working out, it needs to be something that you dedicate to for life!