The Truth About Weight Loss!
December 2011: Weight Management!
I am often approached by people with the goal to lose weight. This is an appropriate goal for someone who is significantly overweight; however, it should not be the only goal they set. To focus solely on weight loss (as the only goal) has lead many people toward failure. Also, the goal to lose weight is not appropriate for everyone and yet, most people adopt this goal as their central focus. In this article, I will explain why this goal is not for everyone and how it can actually have negative consequences to transforming one’s physique especially when it becomes your main focus.
Muscle vs. Fat
I know you have probably heard that muscle weighs more than fat but here is the truth – muscle weighs the same as fat. 1 lb of muscle is the same as one l lb of fat. The difference is not in the weight but in the mass. In other words, fat takes up more space than muscle. The picture below is a great demonstration of this statement.
‘Skinny Fat People’
Here is an example of a common conversation I have with female clients during an initial goal setting consultation:
Sal: Ok, so what are your goals?
Client: When I was in my early 20s, I weighed 110 lbs and I want to get back to that weight.
Sal: Do you really?
Client: Yes, I would give anything to look like that again.
Sal: What if I told you that the reason you weighed 110 lbs is because you were mostly water, skin and bones. I bet you had no significant muscle on your body frame at the time.
Client: I am sure I had muscle, right?
Sal: Not necessarily. Could you perform a set of 10 full push-ups or pull-ups? Could you squat your body weight for 10 reps?
Client: No, I was very weak.
Sal: Exactly, so why do you want to be at a weight where you are going to be very weak? Did you know that you were probably fat at 110 lbs?
Sal: Yes, there are a lot of ‘skinny fat people’ walking around. Just because you weigh 110 lbs (or whatever) does not mean you are not fat. Whether a person is fat or not is measured by body fat percentage and not by body weight. Therefore, if most of your body tissue is made up of fat, you are fat, regardless of your weight or how skinny you appear to be.
The above example is important because it should help you to understand that you can create different, more improved goals which I will show you how to do in the next, upcoming article. Often, I work hard to turn my client’s focus from weight loss to improving body composition or increasing core strength, etc. I find this message is difficult for most people to absorb because they have been conditioned (their entire lives) to focus only on weight loss. Therefore, I will emphasize the following; “DO NOT FOCUS SOLEY ON WEIGHT LOSS OR YOU WILL MOST LIKELY FAIL TO ACHIEVE THE PHYSIQUE YOU GREATLY DESIRE! YOU MUST HAVE OTHER SUPPORTING GOALS!” Please commit the previous statements to memory; place it in the deepest part of your subconscious mind.
Weight Scale vs. Fat Calliper
There is an old saying I use about weight scales; “Give them to someone you do not like and let them pull their hair out.” If you base your progress on weight, I assure you, you will most likely quit the best of exercise programs. In fact, I bet the number one reason people do not follow a healthy lifestyle, exercise plan, and proper nutrition, etc., is because of this extremely flawed measuring stick. Just how flawed is this measuring stick? Take a look at the following picture.
As you can see, the female above is in better shape (leaner) in her after picture and yet she weighs 9 lbs more! This is a great example of how fat takes up more space than muscle. What if her goal was to lose 10 pounds? In all likelihood, she would have quit the exercise program before she gained the 9 pounds and transformed her physique for the better, right? This is a perfect example why we must lose the old, outdated mentality that weight loss is the ultimate goal. How else can we measure progress? Body fat measurements, fitness level assessments, movement pattern and postural corrections are all great indicators of progress. Again, I will expand on this further in the next article.
An inexpensive fat calliper (by Accu-Measure) you can use to measure your body fat but I recommend getting help from a professional who is skilled at using this tool for increased accuracy.
One more thing, the female in the ‘before and after’ photo is NOT huge. She gained a lot of muscle (more than 9 lbs because she lost some body fat) and yet she looks thinner than before. Many women I speak to have this phobia about getting bulky. This is highly unlikely as women have 10 times less testosterone than men (which many actually struggle to add muscle bulk). And if you are still not convinced that you will not get bulky then I suggest you stay away from doing bodybuilding routines and focus on exercise programs that are designed for functional conditioning. If you are not sure what functional conditioning is exactly and how it differs from bodybuilding then I invite you to do a personal training session with me or join in on one of my boot camp classes and I assure you, you will discover the difference.
If you begin an exercise program, do not base your goals and progress measurements solely on body weight as doing this can be extremely misleading and demotivating. I have witnessed people who gained remarkable results on certain programs but because their weight had not changed, they quit striving for their goals. Therefore, do not fall victim to this old trap. Set a variety of goals that support each other and work toward them long enough to achieve them. If you do this, you will inevitably see the body you’ve always wanted emerge before your eyes. I cannot wait to write the next article as I feel it is important to share some different goals which will help you transform your physique.
Your Holistic Health Coach,