Who wants to look better in that dress they bought last spring? Who wants to get back in their wedding/prom Tux? I can’t promise that this will ever happen, but I am here to tell you that watching the scale, and wishing, hoping, praying that the number displayed drops week after week is not the answer.
Take a good look at the picture above, this is what weight loss looks like. This is the actor Christian Bale, some of you may know him for his role in Batman and other box office movies he starred in. This was him in the role for “The Machinist”. He lost 63lbs over the course of a few months to get ready for this movie. His diet was an extreme caloric deficit; from my research his daily diet consisted of canned tuna, some apples and a few cups of black coffee.
So are you sure the picture above is the look you are going for this summer? If so, go buy some canned tuna fish, some apples and starve yourself. Go run on the treadmill for hours on end, or dehydrate yourself. While I don’t condone these methods of weight loss, they will all work towards lowering that number on the scale. The real question is, will you look the way you want with that few pounds off your frame? Sorry to say, but the truth is you probably still won’t be satisfied.
If you step on the scale, and are not satisfied with the number, remember that this number is a combination on muscle, bones, blood, internal organs, water retention, and even possibly your clothes and sneakers (if you are wearing them). The thing about decreasing your reading on the scale is that it does not discriminate on what’s necessary (muscle, water, essential fat, internal organs) and what’s not necessary (anything over essential fat).
The key to you looking leaner is not weight loss, but building lean muscle and dropping your body fat percentage. Most people mistake weight loss and fat loss, or think they are the same; however, this cannot be further from the truth. If you focus on weight loss, you will just be a skinnier you that still has a high body fat percentage and no muscle tone.
Ever heard the saying “A pound of muscle does not weigh more than a pound of fat”, well my friend that is not true. A pound is a pound; the difference is that a pound of fat will take up more space on your body, than a pound of muscle will. Lets visualize that I took two 4x6ft bins, and placed them right next to one another. I am going to packing one with fat, and the other one will muscle. The bin with the muscle would weigh more on the scale for the simple fact that muscle is more dense than fat, and more muscle would be able to fit in the bin. In order to get the same weight of fat into the second bin, the fat tissue would hang out and over the top.
We all carry a certain amount of body fat that is considered essential for maintaining core body temperature, stored energy, and for women, child bearing purposes put their essential body fat percentage slightly higher. As I mentioned with your nutrition, 80 lean muscle/20 fat is a percentage is a good balance of muscle to fat ratio for the average person (FYI your not average, you train with Boz-wellness). Obviously the lower you go under 20%, the leaner you will look, the more defined your muscles will look, the better you will fit your clothes.
You might have seen these two pictures floating around the Internet, and it is a gender-neutral fact. The scale does not know if they are human, a Volkswagen or cans of paint, all it reads is that the total weight on top of it. If you put people next to each other that weigh the exact same amount, they will all carry the weight different because of their height, and you guessed it…body fat percentage.
So lets do alittle math, lets use two out of the six women in this picture both at 154lbs. If one woman was 35% body fat (53lbs of fat), while the other was 18% body fat (27lbs of fat), which one do you think will look leaner?
One of the reasons I asked you to take pictures and do your measurements before the 8-week challenge is because the scale might not change during your fat loss journey, but your appearance will. The weight staying the same, or even increasing is a result of gaining lean muscle. Since muscles takes up less space, even if you gained 10lbs of muscle, you would still look leaner than before.
Few Tips monitoring for fat loss
Slight calorie deficit
This can be done by two primary factors, exercise or nutrition. You can burn additional calories during exercise; you can eat less calories per day. The easier and less time consuming of the two is to monitor your caloric intake, simply due to the fact that it is less time consuming to eat 500 less calories versus workout to burn an additional 500 calories. I would choose a combination of both. Just make sure you are not dropping the calories to an unhealthy low. As I recommended in last blog post, cutting in the 500 calorie range per day is a good start to start the fat burning without losing the hard earned muscle. Sacrificing muscle to lower the number on the scale is a mistake to many people make by lowering their calories to borderline starvation numbers. That’s like throwing out the baby with the bath water… don’t do that.
After water, protein is the major component that makes the human body. Make sure you are taking in enough protein to help repair the muscles after a strenuous workout. Carbohydrates play their role in energy, but after that energy tank is full, the remaining contents will spill out and fill up a never ending tank known as fat cells. Be mindful of that.
Constantly aim to use weights where you begin to fatigue in the 8-10 rep range to help put adequate resistance on the muscles. Since muscle is our tag team partner in this fat loss journey, we actually want to increase our lean muscle mass. The increased metabolism from the lean muscle mass you added with calorie burning.
Pictures and Measurements
“What gets measured, gets managed”. Begin to shift your focus away from the number on the scale, unless your scale reads body fat percentage. Take pictures and compare them from start to finish, use measuring tape and your clothes as a gauge to see if you are losing inches.
Just like anything else in life, Fat loss is a process of making daily choices that will add up to your success. Depending on your starting point, and your end goal, the journey can takes days, months or years. One thing you can’t do is rush this process, continue to make healthily nutrition choices and you will surely make progress. Below is a body fat chart you can use to track your results on your fat loss journey.
Coyle, EF., “Fat Metabolism during Exercise.” Sport Science Exchange. Accessed May 6, 2014
Mehdi. “Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss: Are You Sure You’re Losing Fat?” STRONGLIFTS. N.p., 05 Feb. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.