Fitness transformation programs and competitions can be a nice spark to new fitness results. However, if you go about achieving those results in the wrong way, the body you wind up weeks after you’ve taken your “after” picture will look much like your “before” picture, if not worse. While it is great to have a set time-frame related to focusing on your goals, the problem with many transformation type programs is that the way the goals are sought, or achieved is not sustainable. The body can only endure so much and if you push it too hard or too fast, it will push back.
A standard or 12-week time frame for a transformation program should be thought of as only one stage of your fitness journey. You need to approach it with the understanding that you want to continue to make progress even after the initial time frame is completed. Too often these programs are marketed based on how much you will change within that period. Dramatic looking before and after pictures of others can lead you to believe that you have found the magic program, diet, supplement, etc. But the truth is that the most marketed results are far from typical. Even the “successes” are often only a glimpse of what the real story happens to be.
Think of it like this. If you are running a marathon, you need to be going at a pace that will allow you to complete the entire race. If you start out at a sprinters pace, you may be ahead of the field for a short while, but very soon you will be swallowed up, and even passed, by the pack. Pictures of someone leading the race after the first half-mile may seem impressive, but if they never even finish the race (or to be more accurate related to our example – wind up right back at the starting line) how impressed would you be? Using a program that will give you fast results over a short time period, only to have you lose most, if not all, of those improvements will only leave you frustrated and ready to quite. That’s exactly what you want to avoid.
It is OK to involve yourself with a transformation type program. Just be cautious not to try and do too much too quickly. Do not severely reduce your calories or dramatically increase your exercise activity to a level that you know you will not be able to maintain. Try to focus more on developing and adopting a sustainable fitness lifestyle that can and will lead you much further than a quick kamikaze fitness approach. How dramatic of a change you make in a short time frame will not matter if you lose those results later and have to start all over. Adopt a program that will allow you to make reasonable and sustainable progress, and that supports you following and continuing a healthy fitness lifestyle!