Weight Loss or Fat Loss?


Women's infatuation with the scale never ceases to amaze me. Rarely does she look pleased when she steps off; in fact, she will step on and off repeatedly, adjust her stance, exhale deeply and most likely do this only with absolute certainty that no one else can view the number! That number has little meaning when used as a barometer for how much fat one should lose. Considering that the human body is composed of water (roughly 70% of weight), lean tissue (muscle, bones, organs, connective tissue, hair, nails, etc) and fat (which is important to good health when kept in check), how is it that the scale number causes such dismay when the average person has no clue what those numbers actually represent? And, when those numbers aren't where we think they should be, it can cause even the most intelligent of us to resort to ridiculous thoughts and behavior. Take a look and see if you share some of these weight-loss fallacies:

1. If I don't eat fat, I won't get fat. Wrong! Fat is essential to good health and never let anyone tell you otherwise. The types of fat and the amounts you consume are what make the difference and this is what needs to be monitored. If you resort to a diet heavy in fat-free products, you may have trouble with vitamin deficiencies of the fat-soluble type, hormone imbalances, essential fatty acids important to many vital bodily functions and even a high risk of heart disease. Choosing polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (from fish, nuts, seeds and plant oils) lowers your cholesterol and reduces your risk of heart disease, while saturated fats increase LDL levels and these are the bad guys.

2. If I eat less, I'll lose weight. This is partially true. It's also the most misunderstood concept for people to grasp. First, let me clarify what eating less does NOT mean. Eating nothing but a Twinkie and a piece of lettuce all day, eating less than 1,000 calories per day or eating at 7:00 am and then not again until 4:00 pm are not good examples of eating less. However, this is typically what people do when they restrict caloric intake. It may cause a few lbs. to drop initially, but it won't be fat and it won't be healthy. Eating less means reducing caloric intake from the amount that it takes to maintain our healthy weight. If you are many pounds past that number, your reduction will look something like this:

Current weight: 175 lbs

Ideal weight: 135 lbs.

Amount needed to maintain ideal weight of 135 lbs. (12 calories per lb=1,620 calories/day) ***Daily caloric intake based on mildly active lifestyle

To lose 1 lb./week, roughly 3,500 calories need to be eliminated, or 500/day so you are looking at 1,120/day. If you've been maintaining at 175 lbs., this means a reduction of about 1,000 calories a day! No wonder people get so grumpy when they start a diet! Especially when it's not properly balanced. This is just an example and your numbers could vary significantly.

3. I weighed yesterday and this morning, the scale showed a 5 lb. loss since then-I'm losing weight! First of all, why are you weighing every morning? Did you want to lose weight? Or did you want to lose fat? Huge difference, and that 5 lb. loss overnight was NOT fat! Remember: the scale only gives you a number with no accompanying statistics on what that number is composed of. The problem is that we compare that number throughout our lives to some ideal weight we once weighed, usually in high school. If you've never been at an ideal weight, remember the factors that affect the so-called healthy ranges, primarily bone structure and lean muscle tissue. Besides, are you going to walk around with that number posted on you-like being burdened with the Scarlet S? The number does not matter; the fat percentage does.

4. I just need to find the perfect diet/pill/medical procedure so I can lose weight. Diets don't work and they never will, though you may have short-term success. Ask anyone dieting if they enjoy the experience. Boredom, frustration and deprivation will cause a craving attack that just cannot be denied! Diet pills? Seriously? Dangerous choice and most have been removed from the market due to death of certain users. Ironic that millions of dollars are spent researching and developing drugs to combat obesity, yet look at the foods regularly marketed with little nutritional value-snack foods like candy bars, sodas and chips come to mind. Current popular medical procedures include liposuction, cool sculpting and stomach stapling, procedures that often leave patients less than satisfied with results.

"That will be $5,600-per thigh ma'am!"

With the choices in this category, there is no guarantee for success and if you don't change your eating habits after doing the diet/pill/medical procedure, you will just gain it all back!

None of this is meant to cause more frustration-there just are no quick, easy answers to fat loss. The goal is to live a lifestyle that doesn't allow for the accumulation of fat to begin with. If you've got a long way to go to get to that point, then what are you waiting for? The time to start is now. Start with a sensible approach, armed with the knowledge that there is no fast fix for losing body fat, as well as lots of (here comes that word I love to use) PATIENCE. This is the approach least often used because it takes time-it just happens to be the most successful and effective in losing fat and keeping it off. Besides, you've probably tried all the diets and other gimmicks by now which means you already know the truth about them.

Some people I know (self included, LOL) need way more letters in the alphabet to cover all the 'plans' we've tried for losing fat and are far beyond feeling cool about it! For me, the best plan has been No Plan, which just means that I avoid certain things and the rest is fair game, meaning no weighing or measuring. I use the 'guesstimate' method. However, avoidance requires a plan so I should rephrase and things I avoid I feel don't really deserve the title of Food (sugar? not deserving...), making it easier to see why this is good to avoid!

And now, a final note to my friends and past clients that I was able to catch up with on my recent trip to central Florida. I love you all so much. It was wonderful to see you again. However, I am deeply concerned about you. I am older than most of you and yet I heard you use AGE as a reason for your decline in health (or as a reason for not expecting too much of yourself in the health/fitness arena), and I also heard about 'Other issues' that prevent you from focusing on the goal of fitness. Some even refused to have a direct discussion about it. I think this is a good place to insert a comment from a reader that I received recently:

Hello Stacey, I know it's been over a month since you shared the bad news about your surgery. I've been meaning to write, but sadly haven't taken the time...and so today I decided that I really needed to let you know how sorry I am for you! And I hope that by now you're well on the road to recovery, and resuming your training routines once again. I've read blogs and FB posts of several fbb's, and have seen a constant theme -- how committed they are, and especially how disciplined they are re both gym time and diet, preparing meals, etc. etc. And every time I read those blogs, which sometimes complain about the time and even drudgery of something like meal prep, I think of you and respect you even more. You train and run your life in addition to a really grueling job, while others have no other job (they're pros) and still grumble about keeping up all aspects of their routine. So...here's to your continuing recovery and continued success! Here's to your discipline in setting goals and busting your butt to get there! And especially, here's to your indomitable spirit!!! Best to you, Stacey

Richard Benedum

And my response:

Hello Richard! I am deeply touched by your sentiments. And, based on the theme of this blog (The Greatest Gift), it truly resonates after seeing old friends and past clients of personal training. It's a matter of choice and preference, to live a fit, healthy lifestyle. For me, there is No other choice. Everyone has stuff on their plate and at times, life can be overwhelming and full of challenges. I hear a LOT of excuses and complaints about aging. I make fun of myself at times as well but I hardly let it stop me. I still want to kick ageing's ass and believe I can, LOL. I'm not a whiner so even if I'm whining in my mind, you'll rarely hear it. I have been doing this so many years that it is just my reality and I don't know of a thing in it that is worth complaining about. Being fit and feeling good is an amazing way to live life and is a decision I make as how I want to live. Why would I moan about that? Especially while trying to motivate others to do the same! That's the indomitable spirit you refer to! And, I wish this could be my full-time job, like a pro. They are blessed!

Stacey

My question to all my friends and past clients:

At what point did it become okay to choose anything less than good health as acceptable?! At one time, we met due to your desire to get into better shape. Some of you no longer pursue this as a goal. How did that ever become an option? I hope you will consider the consequences of your decisions and realize there is no reason good enough to let this fall off your 'To Do' list. There are so many approaches to regaining health and fitness levels so please do not use lack of time (especially my retired friends...) or finances (for a trainer or a gym) as a valid excuse. Truth? There is NO valid excuse. Unless you are in a full body cast. If you need help determining what type of routine you can do with limited time/finances, ask me! You do know I'm here to help, right?


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