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Weight loss is a big topic!
There are tons of products that are geared towards losing weight quickly. Some even market weight loss products that require you to do no additional work on your part!
As an educated, passionate health and wellness professional this can be frustrating to observe! I see people buy these products and do nothing else to change their lifestyle habits.
These products do help you to lose weight but not always in the healthiest way. They work in one of two ways:
Loss of water weight:
- This is only temporary in nature and eventually the water weight will return depending on what you eat and or drink.
Significantly reducing daily calorie intake:
- This will result in both muscle and fat loss. As you lose muscle this can lead to a decrease in your metabolism, which can slow down your progress.
I get a lot of messages from people wanting to lose weight. My immediate first thought is…..does this person want to lose weight in general or is their goal really fat loss?
When I first started working out years ago my goal was to attain more definition and lean out but I wasn’t sure on how to achieve it. So, without the proper knowledge I performed a lot of cardio, ate less and did no type of resistance training.
I did lose weight but I was literally just a smaller version of myself with no more definition then when I started. My real goal was fat loss, which would have resulted in the definition and leanness I was looking for.
When we focus strictly on our weight and use the scale as the ONLY measurement, it can be discouraging at times. After all, weight can fluctuate daily due to the foods we eat, hormonal changes and water retention. This is something that I still have to remind myself of when I do decide to hop on the scale.
The scale doesn’t measure your actual body composition. Body composition is the amount of fat versus fat free mass (muscle, bone, etc.) in your body. In some cases, as you lose fat and gain muscle the scale does not change but your actual appearance does.
How to Lose Fat Mass:
- Incorporate Both Resistance Training and Cardio: Lift heavy weights and perform High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for cardio. HIIT is alternating intense bouts of exercise with lower intensity. Example: Running on a treadmill at 6 mph for 30 seconds then walk at 3.0 mph for a minute then repeat 5-6 times.
- Focus on Proper Nutrition: Consume lean sources of protein, lots of vegetables, and complex carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, 100% whole wheat bread).
- Drink Plenty of Water: Staying hydrated helps keep your body functioning properly, aids in digestion and helps to combat water retention.
Better Ways To Track Progress:
- Take Progress Photos: It can be hard to see your own progress, but a picture doesn’t lie (well unless you use phot shop, but you get my point). When you take progress photos be sure to:
- Wear the same clothing. Show your shape, don’t wear baggy clothes as it defeats the purpose.
- Use a plain background with good lighting.
- Take full body photos from three angles (front, side, back).
- Take the pictures the same time of day.
- Take bi-weekly or once a month.
- Pay Attention to How Your Clothes Fit: Looser fitting clothes are a dead give away when it comes to tracking your progress. When your body composition changes and you lose fat while gaining muscle you will get leaner but not necessarily lighter right away. The scale may not have moved as much as you want it to, but your clothes will begin to fit looser as you get leaner.
- Take Measurements: Measurements are also a great way to track your progress. By tracking your measurements regularly, it will show you if you are getting leaner. I usually have my clients take a total of 4 measurements.
- Bicep (Upper Arm): Measure above your elbows around the thickest part. To ensure reliability, mark where you choose to measure gently with a pen. Then measure the distance from that mark to your elbow, this will let you know where to measure at in the future. Measure your right and left arm.
- Waist: Measurement is taken just above the belly button. Do not suck your stomach in. It is best to take a deep breath inhale and then exhale; the measurement should be taken after the exhale.
- Hips: Measurement is taken at the widest part of the hip bones.
- Thigh (Upper Leg): Measure the thickest part of your thigh above the knee. To ensure reliability, mark where you choose to measure gently with a pen. Then measure the distance from that mark to your knee, this will let you know where to measure at in the future. Measure both your right and left thigh.
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words!
The picture I used for this blog is a six year, 15 pound difference in the same dress. If I only paid attention to the scale and not the way my clothes fit or my actual appearance through photos then gaining 15 pounds could be alarming. The difference was a change in my body composition, I gained more lean muscle.
As a health and wellness professional my goal is to always educate my clients on how to reach their goals in the healthiest way possible. Remember, natural healthy fat loss will take time so you must have patience and the discipline to stick with your health plan.
When you know better you do better! So now that you know better it’s time to put that work in!
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