when do you first start to see results?

  • So i just started the challenge this last monday.  how long does it take to actually start seeing a little change?

  • Hi Greta,

    This is one of the hundreds of posts from an old CHAMPION of a man and a BFL Champion too! Everyone is different, some drop pounds in the first week, some hardly see the scale move for 8 weeks or more... As Mike would say, trust in the program it works, but YOU GOTTA DO IT RIGHT! 

    Work hard, be diligent and you will be happy!

    Paper Towel Theory!


    Here’s a little inspiration for those of you who are worried about not seeing any changes in your body so far. It’s what I call the "Paper Towel Theory"

    Let’s assume you go out and buy two rolls of paper towels, each with only 84 paper towels on it (one for each day of the challenge).

    You put one aside, and keep it for future reference (your "before" picture).

    The other one represents you (I’ll call your paper towel you "Ed"). The core represents the lean Ed. The towels represent the fat that is covering the lean Ed. For sake of argument, let’s say that Ed wants to lose 21 pounds of fat, so (84/21) each sheet represents a quarter-pound of fat lost. Let’s also assume that Ed loses his fat equally during each day of the challenge.

    Each day during the first week, you tear a sheet off of Ed, representing the fat he has lost for the day. Next, you put Ed next to the full roll ("Big Al") for comparison. No noticeable difference!!! Even at the end of the week! This can’t be working for me!

    But, being a good Ed, you continue to follow Body-for-LIFE. At the end of weeks two and three, you continue to compare Ed to Big Al, and still notice very little difference. That stinkin’ Bill Phillips MUST be a liar!

    But Ed is determined! He works hard! Hitting his 10’s…eating his 6 daily meals. Three more weeks go by, the sheets peeling off day after day, before Ed gets up the courage to stand next to Big Al again. Holy Myoplex! Ed is skinny! OK, not skinny, but less huge!!!

    By the end of the 12-week Body-for-LIFE program, Ed is down to his lean dream, or somewhere near it. Ed is happy. We are happy. Big Al – well he’s not so happy.

    The lesson to be learned is that fat, like paper towels, comes off in sheets. When you are heavy, you are big around. And when you are big around, that fat is spread over a MUCH larger area – just like that outside towel sheet. The closer you get to the lean you, the more each lost pound of fat shows, because it is spread over a smaller area.

    While the outside sheet may only cover 1 layer of the roll, the inside sheet may go around 4 times. That last sheet looks like it gives you 4 times the results of the first sheet, but in reality, the results are the same – your perception is just different! And you’ll never see the inside, if you aren’t patient while the outside is coming off!

    Seems so logical when you read it like this!

    This article and other great stuff on www.hussmanfitness.com


    Mike Harris

    1. WEEK ONE: Confusion and stress are usually your first visitors if you’ve never done anything like this before. In fact, it’s best to visit the gym or get your home gym set up ahead of time and do some trials of the exercises. It’s also best to plan an entire two weeks’ worth of menus before you start, so you don’t find yourself running out in the middle of the night to buy authorized food. Stick to the proteins and carbs that are listed on page 83 of the book and you can’t go wrong. The next things you’ll experience in week one are soreness and sleeplessness. Soreness is natural initially, and unavoidable if you’re working hard. Don’t waste your money on pain relievers; they don’t work on it at all. Sleeplessness and headaches and lethargy are all first week experiences for most, and they are caused by the body trying to adapt to better foods, and also beginning to expel the junk that has built up in your body fat all along. Drink lots of water!

    2. WEEK TWO: Soreness and the dietary adjustments may continue during the second week. But, you’ll also notice that the diet will begin to feel a bit more natural and the exercises will seem a bit easier. You should see a little bit of strength gain at the end of week 2. There will be some scale loss for men, but almost none for women, and no great noticeable changes in the mirror yet, except that your skin and eyes may look brighter and clearer.

    3. WEEK THREE: You’ll be confidently doing the exercises by now, and the diet will seem almost normal tasting to you. Your taste buds will have adjusted from all the sweets, spicy foods, and salty stuff and the fresh foods and pure foods will taste good. Most men will begin to see some changes in the mirror at the end of this week and should be able to see more scales movement. Women might have lost as much as 3 to 5 pounds by now, though no weight loss at all or even a slight gain by the end of week three is not at all uncommon.

    4. WEEK FOUR TO SIX: Weeks 4 through 6 are the golden weeks. You’ll find yourself feeling great–even exhilarated–which is a welcome change from the sleeplessness, aches and pains and sluggishness from weeks 1 through 3. The guys will see quickening weight loss and a visible change in the size of the old beer gut or love handles. Women will see some changes, but usually more modest in nature than the guy. So, if you are doing a couple’s challenge, be prepared for the uneven (don’t say "unfair" just yet) nature of your changes versus your husband’s situation.

    Both men and women will see significant changes in strength and stamina. Sleep habits will settle down. The diet will begin to become almost second nature and the exercise and multiple meal events will become a regular and comfortable part of your life. Especially for women it is extremely important to continue to advance in your weight training goals, lifting to failure rather than simply walking through the exercise. Unless you strain to lift, and really do hit it hard, you are essentially wasting your time doing the strength training.

    If you measure them at this point, you’ll likely see that blood pressure is lower; cholesterol and triglycerides are lower, and that resting pulse is lower. This is also the time, though, that small nagging injury or pain can gets worse. Be extremely careful about working sore joints such as knees and especially shoulders. If the shoulder joints are sore, don’t lift weights overhead. It is not worth it to develop a rotator cuff or neck problem at this point.

    Be of good cheer! Stay the course. There are good things coming! Patience is needed, especially for women.


  • Dear Greta,

    The short answer is it various from person-to-person. However, around six weeks is when I started to see noticeable differences. I just received an 8 week e-mail from BFL, that said 8 weeks is when women tend to notice results and for men in can be a little earlier.

    I am not a big fan of the scale because your weight can fluctuate for various reasons. However, if you weigh yourself just once a week you will likely see some progress each week. This is a good reinforcement things are working.

    I also find it helpful to take progress pictures every week. You will not see much difference from week-to-week, but if you compare every three or four week increments you will be able to see the change.

    The Bottom Line --- Worry less about seeing results because they will come. Instead judge your progress for now on how you feel and how how your clothes feel on you.

    I agree with the above post about the towels. The funny thing is, in the beginning you will likely lose weight quicker, but it will have less of a visual impact. It is the weight that slowly comes off at the end that will really reveal your new body.

    Keep the Faith!


    Dan McLellan