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A “Summer Body Program” – if it gets you off the couch, off the bad habits, and into a more active life … even if for only 12 weeks  – is perhaps not the worst thing. But this article isn’t for the people who never fitness. It isn’t for the people trying to quit their diet pepsi addiction and take that first step to a healthier them. This, let’s call it “opinion piece”, is for all the people out there who sign up for these 12- week Summer transformation challenges every single year and expect “this time to be different”.

I don’t mean to kill the dream, but the truth is … this time won’t be different. You might lose 5kg’s … maybe even 10 if they don’t care about starving you to the point of insanity, but the whole hearted honest reality is that you will welcome all that weight back just as quickly as you said goodbye to it. Otherwise you wouldn’t keep having to do these silly 12-week challenges every 6 months, would you? The good news is  – this isn’t (completely) your fault. Sure, if we apply the whole “fool me once” analogy – your naive approach to these programs leaves you partially to blame, but the truth is, these fitness companies are REALLY good at selling you a solution they know you so desperately desire. And they don’t care about what happens to you post 12 weeks as long as they get their “before and after photo” for marketing evidence.

So why don’t these programs work? It’s actually really simple, let me explain …

1)    “Weight loss” is not necessarily "fat loss"

In most of these challenges, they use a scale to measure your progress. The scale measures your TOTAL WEIGHT. The problem with this is that the bulk of your total weight is actually made up of 3 different things : Water, muscle & fat. And the relationship between each of these is very important. Your body can fluctuate pretty significantly in its water weight (up to 2L is pretty normal when dieting) now think about how much a 2L water bottle weighs ... and this weight fluctuation has nothing to do with muscle or fat.

I want you to think of muscle like the Chanel Bag of your body. It’s expensive to acquire + expensive to upkeep. It takes A LOT of energy for your body to physically build new muscle, and then it takes a lot of energy to MAINTAIN that muscle. If your body isn’t getting in energy via food (due to these super restrictive 12 week programs) it will get rid of your muscle, as it simply can’t afford to keep it. And what does it do in it’s place? Stores body fat. Think of body fat as the Chanel knock-off. It’s cheap and your body can store it for daysssssssss.

So sure, you might see the number on the scale go down – but it’s most likely water or muscle loss. NOT fat loss. So really, you’ve just increased your body fat %. Go figure.

2)    Eat more, Not Less

Despite what we’ve been told about “exercising more and eating less” to lose weight, it’s - simply put - ancient news. Continuing from what I explained above … your body requires A LOT of energy to build muscle. When you are getting enough energy from food, your body starts to feel safe again. It revs up your metabolism and starts to re-calibrate your hormones. Because you’re feeding it properly, it’s able to build lean muscle AND get rid of the excess fat that it no longer needs. Sounds simple, right? IT IS. An exceptional Gym will help guide you on how your diet can support your goals. Find one of those gyms :) 

3)    Basal Metabolic Rate

This is important to know. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the BASE number of calories your body would need if it was in a coma. It is based on factors like height, muscle mass, fat mass and age. Luckily for us, we aren’t in coma’s … which means we need additional calories (on top of our BMR) for things like blinking, walking, standing, sitting & exercising. If we are not getting in this very BASE amount of calories, our body starts to slow down our metabolism and it's related hormones, and then eat away at our muscle and store fat. Sounds like a party you never want to attend, doesn’t it!? So make sure you know your BMR and you’re eating enough food to support your daily energy requirements.


Every single body has what’s called a “set point”, this is a particular weight that your body identifies as it’s state of “normal”. It takes time to establish a new set point. Unfortunately for us humans, the body is VERY good at putting on weight, because A) we never had a readily available supply of food, and B) the food we’ve eaten over hundreds of thousands of years was REAL food, not the fake crap we consume in abundance today. Just as weight gain is often gradual (over the course of 6 months - 2 years) weight loss needs to be approached the same way. This gives the body enough time to establish a new set point. If it happens too quickly, you don’t give the body enough time to adapt to the change, it will do everything in it’s power to get you back to your initial “set point” as that is what it identifies as “normal” for your body. Having trouble losing that frustrating 10kg’s? This is why. Find a gym that plays the long game.


5)    It’s a marathon, not a sprint

I knowwwwww it’s temping. I know you tell yourself “in 12 weeks time I’ll be a new ME!”. But the HONEST truth is, you won’t. You won’t be any more educated on your body, you won’t be any more aware of your nutrition, your sleep, your stress levels and how all of that effects your health. Your body won’t be better off for it. In fact, probably the opposite will happen. Make exercise a PART of your LIFE. This is the mindset you need to adapt. Find a gym that offers 6, 12 and 18 month contracts because they understand that’s what it takes and they’re willing to hold your hand and stand by you through that journey. Find a gym that invests in your knowledge and helps you to LEARN and UNDERSTAND how this all works, so you can go on to live a really healthy, happy life without the need for 12 week programs. INVEST in your damn self. The right way is often hardest in the short term, but easiest in the long run. Give your body the health it deserves in 2019, by making the right choices in 2018.

Melanie Corlett