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Not Making Fitness Progress? Stay Calm and Read On!

If there’s one fitness roadblock I’d love to run out of town on a rail, it’s the “I’m not seeing any change” issue. It’s a very, very common concern and one I totally sympathize with (I was there at one point)- but that doesn’t make it any less of a punk that has the insidious potential to derail motivation.

So, in my continuing effort to help you “clear the mechanism” and keep things rocking in your progress toward your ultimate goal of awesomeness and summer-ready confidence, I wanted to share some critical tips for you from a seasoned mind much brighter than mine: Beachbody’s Director of Results, Steve Edwards.

See, when Steve talks, I listen as he’s been around the block and is integral in creating the science and body-changing periodization behind all the programs you know and love from P90X to Insanity to Body Beast to Turbofire. And he’s a cool, down-to-earth guy to boot.

The following tips are gleaned from Steve’s recent article in Beachbody’s monthly (and always enlightening) newsletter.

As Mr. Edwards puts it:

Nothing taps your panic button quite like gaining weight, especially when 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…

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.

I know that sounds like a “Coach Dan Mantra” set on repeat but a little back-up goes a long way. Patience IS the virtue in your quest. But hey- we all know results gives patience a little extra  juice so there’s a few tips offered up that you can maybe dial in on if you’re feeling like you’re not going the direction you think you should be.

I’m Following The Program But… Nothin’!

“Nothin'” can be more frustrating than working hard and noticing zip happening on the scale or waist size. And while I’d like to deliver flying elbow drops on scales as used in general, I realize they have their place and many of you will use them as an indicator of progress. Here’s something Steve notes to keep that scale expectation in check:

Cortisol is a word you should become familiar with, as it’s a key factor here… 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… In a very simplistic sense, [at the beginning of a workout program] 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… The trick is that there is no hard line on how long this adaptation takes. It’s based on your individual parameters.”

In other words, weight gain is normal for a time and if you trust the program and keep consistent, your body will adapt and begin going in the direction you want it to.

I’m Limiting My Calories… A Lot

progress-undereatingSo about that Cortisol thing? It goes away… unless you put a barrier to its exit. That barrier is an issue far too many people have when tackling an exercise program: undereating- IE; too few calories. I know- calorie deficit and all that. Calorie deficits work but over time they work less effectively and can become counterproductive to your goals. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve recommended eating more and when they do, their plateau disappears.

Steve explains how cortisol works:

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… Go too long [undereating], however, and chronic cortisol release is the result.This is a tough situation because our natural reaction to weight gain is to eat less.

But here’s the kicker and plays right into shifting focus from the scale to other measurements of success, which in turn creates that body you’re after:

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.

Behold a real life example of how undereating kills progress (and it’s something we ALL struggle with to a certain extent):

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.

I added a crapload of bold in that paragraph because you need to understand as you begin exercising like an athlete, your body will need to be fueled like an athlete. Don’t be afraid of calories as you need them. That’s the point, after all– to allow your body to fuel efficiently. Blind calorie restriction can inhibit that unless your finger is on the pulse of progress.

I Feel Like I’ve Hit A Plateau With My Workout Performance

We covered intensity here but truly, it’s a key. Increasing intensity is the key to improvement and change. If you keep the same level of exertion, you stay the same.

… You need to continually improve, which is why workouts get harder as you move through any of Beachbody’s programs…. If you’re doing the same workouts at the same intensity constantly, you are not forcing adaptations that lead to changes in your metabolism…. a proper diet and exercise program should continually force improvements (in the form of adaptations). 

Adaptation leads to change. Change leads to fat loss and improvement. Fat loss and improvement lead to a satisfied, motivated and energetic YOU.

“So and So” Is Seeing Better Results Than Me


Never, never, never, ever, ever, ever compare yourself to someone else.  It’s lame and I’ll use harsh (but loving) words to let you know that. Comparing discredits your successes and puts an impossible hurdle in your path: you will NEVER be someone else. You’re you and that’s freakin’ awesome. Now what can you do to make YOU your best YOU.

That said and underlined with red magic marker, I love the following line from Steve:

… 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 daily results! [emphasis added by Coach Dan]. 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.

If there’s one take away- it’s this and it’s something I always harp on: TRUST THE PROGRAMS. If you stick to them, they’ll work. If you do your own thing, cut corners or switch it up every week, your body is adapting to nothing but running in place.

So all that to arrive at this: Trust the program you invested in. It was designed by people steeped in success with this kind of thing who know what they’re doing. They know how to get the job done- all you have to do is plug and play and stay accountable. We’re here for that all day long.

Plug in and stay accountable. As a Diamond P90X certified Coach, I’m here with a team to help you do just that. Hit me up at and/or add me as your free personal coach for extra support and exclusive access to the friendly, private and all around kick-butt  “Dan V.’s Fit Spot!”.

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