How Long Does it Take to Get Fit

girl profile beach


Have you ever looked at your calendar and PANICKED because you were days away from an event where you wanted to look your best (and you weren’t)? It could be something as simple as a work meeting, a girl’s night out or a family get together. Or it could be something much bigger like a beach trip, high school reunion or even a first date.

Whatever that event was, did you then catch yourself looking at the mirror in disgust at those “fluffy” rolls?

I’ve been there before. Realizing that you’ve let your health and diet slide to the wayside is not the best feeling in the world, but overall it’s a VERY BENEFICIAL experience to have.


Because it gives you MOTIVATION. Even though getting fit isn’t a spot treatment to get rid of your weight gain or “fluff” every now and then, sometimes it’s moments like these that give us a wake up call.

Part of staying fit is being able to maintain a healthy source of motivation to keep doing what’s best for yourself. Without motivation, getting fit and staying fit is extremely hard (if not impossible).

Check out Finding Motivation to Work Out for some tips to get you going!

With that being said, exactly how long does it take to get fit? This is a tricky question. The word “fit” means different things to different people. As a result, there’s quite a bit of variability in the timeline required to reach this goal. Nonetheless, if you want some accurate estimates on how long it’ll take YOU to get results, keep reading!

Fitness Isn’t a Fad – It’s a Lifestyle

Before going any further, I want to preface this topic with a quote.

fitness quote


Just like in any relationship, you can’t expect things to work out if you cheat. Getting fit is the same way. Even though many people would like to view it as a quick cut way to get their dream body, it’s actually a lifestyle that you constantly have to work. Think of it instead as a long-term project.  

Just like if you were training for the Olympics or any other major athletic event, you must approach your health and fitness with a disciplined, hard-working and focused mindset. Taking the time and effort over a longer period of time is what’s going to give you the best results.

Check out Why Being Fit Matters – It’s Not Just About the Looks

You can also view fitness as a roller coaster ride – except this ride gradually takes you up! Even though you’ll have your ups and down, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is never something that should make you feel pressured or unhappy with your appearance.

On the contrary, being fit should make you feel (and look) your best! Truly feeling good and having tons of energy and positive vibes should be the main source of motivation to keep you continuing on the healthy track. I’m not saying that physical appearance shouldn’t be a great source of motivation. It’s just that feeling great on the INSIDE is what’s ultimately going to keep you motivated long-term.

Now onto the actual topic of today’s blog…

So how long does it actually take to get fit?

People have asked me this before, but it’s not something I can accurately answer straight off the bat. If I was analyzing myself personally, I’d have to assess these four variables before figuring out an estimated timeline.

  • Current physical condition
  • Current mental health
  • How willing am I to stay dedicated to a healthy diet and exercise routine
  • How consistent can I be in sticking to my goals

It’s not until I honestly assessed where I was at that I could then move forward with a solid plan.

The same goes for you!

Search within yourself to assess where you’re at in these four areas. Determining this will give you a much clearer idea of where you’re starting off.

Questions to Ask Yourself
Current Physical Condition This plays a huge role in how fast you’re going to achieve your fitness goals because it’s basically your starting point. If you start eating healthier right after New Years, you’re probably not going to see results as fast as if you start eating healthier to slim down before summer.

Basically, if you start off in better condition you’re most likely going to see results quicker.

Current Mental Health The reason mental health affects how fast you reach your fitness goals is because it’s what controls your whole reasoning for getting fit in the first place! If your mindset is focused on the positive things you’ll gain by getting fit (both the physical and mental) then you’ll find yourself plowing ahead with more strength and determination.
How Willing Are You to Stay Dedicated to a Healthy Diet and Exercise Routine? Here, we’re hitting on one of the more difficult traits needed for weight loss. Having dedication may seem reasonably easy, but when it boils down to whether or not you’ll eat that piece of chocolate pie…it becomes much harder to practice.
How Consistent Can You Be With Sticking to Your Goals? Finally, being able to analyze how consistent you will be is also crucial! It’s this consistency mixed with determination that will ultimately build a strong momentum. If you don’t have much, it’ll be much more difficult to get fit in the time you want.

Even if you’re unsure about where you’re mentally at on some of these things, spending a little time thinking about it helps to clear some of the fog.

Different Fitness Paths

girl on path

When determining how long it takes to get fit, people generally choose between two main paths. The reason I say generally is because sometimes people start off strong but then slacken off after that initial burst of motivation. Others mix up these paths and get somewhat overlapping results. Take a look and see what I mean.

  1. The Quick, Intense Pathiwatch

This path is the one people take who want to get fit for that “special event”. Whether it’s an event a few days away or a few weeks away, they’re determined to look their best for someone – or maybe just to feel more confident and attractive in public (both reasons aren’t bad!).

Some of the advantages to taking this path is yielding fast results. Now, I’m not saying you’ll look like a toned fitness model at the end of a couple weeks…however you WILL most likely shed some unwanted water weight and jiggle.

Even though sticking to a strict fitness regimen for a short amount of time is not the most sustainable way of getting fit, it does have it’s pro’s when done with the right mindset.

Last summer I did a 21 day “clean eating” cleanse that I modeled very closely to the 21 Day Fix by Beachbody on Demand. Throughout these three weeks, I stuck to a strict healthy diet – similar in many ways to a paleo style diet.

Was it difficult? Heck yeah it was. The first 4-5 days I thought I was going to bite someone’s head off because I was craving sugar so much.

It got better though…

However by the end of that first week, my cravings went down drastically. Throughout that 21 day cleanse, I learned much greater self control and consistency, even though I’ll admit I was often cranky from not having my daily bowl of ice cream.

In the end, going through the quick and intense way of getting fit benefited me in several ways. It taught me short-term determination and effort while also preventing me from losing motivation since it was only for three weeks.

The cons of trying to get fit the quick and intense way, however, was my sacrifice of happiness along the way. I cut corners and did whatever was needed to stick to my “cleanse” since it was only for a short amount of time. By the end of it, I was mentally and physically drained. Even though my abs looked great, I was more anxious due to constantly having to evaluate my food before eating.

In the end, it wasn’t a way of life I could sustain for the long run. This is why I definitely wouldn’t recommend the quick and intense way of getting fit if you’re trying to stay fit long term. 

Check out Finding Happiness – Unlock Your Inner Magic for how to truly be happy along your fitness journey.

  1. The Gradual Path

woman doing crunch get fit

This path is the one people generally take when they are fed up with their unhealthy lifestyle, however don’t want to completely ditch their unhealthy habits. These people realize how difficult getting fit is – either from past failures or other experiences –  and want to take things S-L-O-W-L-Y. When compared to getting fit the quick and intense way, taking this more gradual approach definitely has some longer lasting benefits.

Some of the advantages of getting fit gradually is the fact that you’re able to slowly incorporate good habits that LAST. Instead of pressuring yourself to eat perfectly clean 100% of the time, you can instead not feel guilty about having cheat meals here or there.

This method of getting fit has drastically changed my approach to eating clean and living healthy. A few years ago, I viewed getting fit as a huge burden. Why? Because every time I tried to do everything perfectly, I always failed.

This made “getting fit” nearly impossible in my mind because I never was able to stick to a clean diet 100% of the time and workout everyday. I had an unrealistic expectation of what it truly meant to get fit and stay fit.

So what changed this? You might ask.

Well, it took time. It also took inconsistent dedication (I say inconsistent because I was dedicated to getting fit, however I didn’t have enough willpower or good momentum to keep living the healthy lifestyle I wanted).

Over a couple years, my inconsistent healthy habits slowly started becoming more regular. Take a look at some of the things that changed during this time…

My Progression of Lifestyle Changes

Before I Gained a Good Momentum When I Started Getting Fit Inconsistently Now – I’ve Learned Balance
I ate as much dessert as I wanted. Often lead to feeling guilty and decreased self-esteem. Sometimes I’d eat dessert, but other times refused to touch it. I was scared of “junk” food and didn’t know how to enjoy it. I enjoy desserts! However instead of going crazy eating whatever I want, I portion control out the “junk” and only eat it sometimes. My entire body feels so much better because I love feeling good AND being able to enjoy donuts.
I never worked out consistently. I didn’t really care about it to be honest. I played backyard soccer and the occasional WII fit…wasn’t that enough? Sometimes I’d go to the gym with a friend. It actually was kind of fun. I also liked the fact that my tummy lost some giggle during this time. It encouraged me to exercise more regularly. Now, I LOVE exercising. The more I’ve incorporated it into my lifestyle, the more I see it’s positive effects. Things like improved body image, improved sleep habits and better overall mood have me looking forward to getting my HR up.

The reason I’m telling you this is because getting fit doesn’t require a “perfect” lifestyle or a “perfect” diet. It only requires inconsistent dedication in the beginning. It’s this small bit of dedication and good momentum that drives you forward into gradually changing your life.

Overall, if I was recommending an approach to getting fit (and staying fit for the long run), I’d definitely chose the gradual path. It makes getting fit fun and much less stressful than going the quick, intense path.

Read How to Be More Adventurous – Live Life to the Fullest

Conclusion – How Long Does it Take to Get Fit?

couple by the ocean

To sum everything up, the real question of how long does it take to get fit lies in how hard you’re willing to work. I’ve seen people lose up to 10 lbs in merely a couple weeks on the quick, intense path. However, I’ve also seen them gain that weight back rather quickly afterward.

On the other hand, I’ve seen people who’ve taken the more gradual approach to getting fit and have been genuinely surprised at how great they look a year later.

Overall, it all boils down to YOUR consistency and work ethic. Am I saying that the quick, intense approach to getting fit will prevent you from succeeding? Of course not! Sometimes taking this approach and then transitioning into a more relaxed “gradual” way of getting fit is one of the ways people see the best results

…in the end, no matter what approach you take to get fit, realize that even the quickest approach will take a little time. Just like eating one unhealthy meal won’t make you overweight, eating one healthy meal won’t make you fit and toned. Give it a week or two. Track your body’s results. I can guarantee that even if you only take a small step, that step might be the spark that changes your life for good.

What are some ways that YOU’VE gotten fit? I’m curious how YOU did it and how long it took. Comment below with your experiences!



Sarah Gaddes

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