You’re squatting. You’re jogging. You’re eating your weight in kale. So where are your six-pack abs already?!
It’s understandable to want instant — or at least instant-er — results when you’re putting a lot of effort into eating healthier and working out. The bad news? It won’t happen overnight. The good news? It will happen sooner than you might think. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
You only need to white-knuckle it through about a week of healthier eating before you’ll start seeing the fruits of your labor. If you’re cutting 500 calories a day, you can expect to see a one-to-three pound drop on the scale after about seven days. And while studies show that you need to lose eight or nine pounds before others will notice the difference in your face, you should be able to spot the subtle changes earlier. You can also expect to drop a clothing size for every 10-12 pounds you lose.
Not trying to lose weight? If you’ve cut down on your carb or sodium consumption, you can expect to feel leaner pretty quickly. Cutting carbs and sodium will get some water weight out of your body, causing you to de-bloat in just a day or two. It’s not fat that you’re losing, but it can be a significant enough change that you’ll notice a difference in the mirror — and in how you feel.
And don’t forget, the benefits of eating healthier go way beyond your waistline. Changing your diet can help prevent health problems like arthritis and diabetes, increase your energy levels, alleviate stress, hydrate your skin, and more.
This should give you a little more pep in your stair-climber routine: if you’re new to working out or majorly upping the intensity of your workouts, you’ll see results in as little as a month. And remember, more isn’t more, so there’s no need for back-to-back spin classes — you actually get more fit in between your workouts, when your muscles repair and adapt to their new routine, so give them plenty of rest.
Also, keep in mind that how far you are from seeing that six-pack depends on where you started. You can expect to feel stronger after just a few weeks, but those abs might have to wait. “For an overweight individual seeking to lose a substantial amount of fat and gain muscle, eight weeks of training may only show a change in upper arm size,” Grant Weeditz, a certified strength and conditioning specialist at Anatomy 1220 in Miami, tells U.S. News. If you don’t have fat to lose, you’ll start seeing definition sooner.
The same goes for eating healthier. Don’t mistake less dramatic results for a lack of progress — quick results when you first get started are motivating, but you have to be in it for the long haul if you want those abs.