Fat VS Muscle

Quote from Chicki: I don’t want to be skinny... I want to look like I can kick someone’s arse!

Today I am going to talk about the most common goal that people come to me for - WEIGHT LOSS. 

Over the past two years my perception of what people need from me as a personal trainer has changed, and as a result I am now working hard to help my clients change their perceptions of this age-old desire.

My aim is to assist the people I work with not just to obtain that figure they want, but to achieve a healthy lifestyle that’s sustainable, and that works for the body inside and out.

It’s easy to focus on weight loss - its history’s easiest form of measurement to judge our fitness goals.  But research and experience has taught me that just losing weight leaves people feeling like they don’t quite get the result they want, and even worse, they may lose their motivation and end up right back where they started… or worse off than where they started.

So what’s the magic formula, I hear you asking?!  Tell me the secret!

Of course it’s important to get weight down for a healthy lifestyle and to live a comfortable life, but please ignore the scales, and focus on changing your lifestyle to a healthier one bit by bit.  And the magic comes when you begin building strength and long, lean muscles - you will begin to see the results from your clothes fitting better, being able to move effortlessly (small goals here - its less about looking like a gazelle running along the beach… unless you have a burning desire to be a gazelle running on the beach - no judgments here!

It could be as simple as being able to roll over in bed without effort, running around with your kids for longer, having the strength to push a lawnmower easier or carry the groceries from the car easier… or even better, strongly applauding your partner and/or kids as they do those jobs for you… as you workout, of course!

Don’t get me wrong - I’d like to help you get rid of the “pooch” that hangs over your waist band, and for you to feel more comfortable wearing that sleeveless top, or beautiful summer dress you just had to have online. Whatever you would like to be your definition of change, we can make a plan to work towards it.  But definition of muscle and visible strength is what makes your body look and feel younger, and will you feel more comfortable in your own skin, and in day-to-day life. The foundation of youth is in strength training, I tell you!

Think about it - how would you prefer to feel as you get older?

Through my programmes, those that I train come to learn that the scales are not as important as the measurements - to me, showing my clients how their body shape can change with measurements is both fascinating, motivating and fulfilling.

These women have the same body mass, but different muscle mass. They weigh the same, but the woman on the left shows a stronger, fitter physique.

Often people get thinner without actually seeing much change on the scales. This happens when the body loses residual fat while gaining strength defining muscle.

This doesn’t happen overnight - there is work to be done to achieve this kind of physique!  But having a dual focus on weight, nutrition AND strength provides us with signs much more quickly that we're moving in the right direction, and their body is responding in the right way.

Another reason to build more muscle is higher mass increases your Resting Metabolic Rate - in other words, building muscle means that your body will burn more calories and fat when you are at rest, so in other words speeding up your metabolism.  

This doesn’t give you an open invitation to sit back and eat pizza - what it means is that your body will consume the GOOD FUEL you provide it with more efficiently, while simultaneously burning off the fat.

**So you can sit… yeah sure you can! Everyone needs to micropause, to have some mindfulness, to feel calm amongst the chaos of our hectic lives. But its a good idea to make sure that your body works effectively while resting, and also what you’re sitting on then works for you when you need to move too!

So here’s a question for you - why is it that it feels like we are making huge gains on the fitness and nutrition front, the clothes fit better, the body feels more streamlined, you get more compliments from your significant other (well, you should! You’re fabulous!)... but the scales say a different story?

Here’s something to think about: 5 pounds of muscle takes up less space than 5 pounds of fat, but weighs the same.

So physically we feel great, but the heavier muscle makes those scales weigh heavier than we feel.

So to sum up - you may initially get upset about the number on the scale that wasn’t quite what you were hoping for, don’t lose faith, and don’t drop your exercise program in favour of that delicious cronut on the couch.

Great nutrition has been shown to be the most effective in helping people lose weight, keep the weight off, and be healthier long term - there’s an 80/20 rule that applies here, as working out only gets you 20% of the way to your goal, while eating the right food provides 80% more benefit.

The right exercise is still important - strengthening key muscle groups will assist you in other areas, and cardio helps increase the strength of your heart and lungs, improve your endurance during workouts, and of course burn calories.

It takes some balancing to get the formula right, but with the right guidance, positive transformation is within anyone’s capability.