Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss: Do you know the difference? This is one concept that unfortunately is misunderstood by a lot of folks, and horribly marketed by a majority of those in the fitness and nutrition industry. You can ask the average woman their fitness goal and they will probably tell you, “I want to lose weight, or I just need to lose 10 more pounds to get to my target goal.” Most people don’t realize that one person can weigh exactly the same but look totally different. The photo above is one of the girls I first started training. The photo on the left is her at 125 pounds (fitness regimen: running, poor eating habits), the photo on the right is ALSO 125 pounds (fitness regimen: CrossFit, healthy eating).
There are a few problems with focusing on weight loss:
- Obsessing Over the Weight Scale: There’s a chance you probably weigh yourself every morning, or even 2-3 times a day. If this sounds like you, STOP. I actually tell a lot of the ladies I train to throw out their weight scale. If you are working out the right way, chances are you will be gaining muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. From my own personal experience, I have floated between 115-125 pounds. At 5 foot tall, I have been 120 pounds but with a very high body fat percentage, but I have also been 120 pounds with low body fat (around 14%). The difference was my fitness level. I used to run, do elliptical, maybe do some weight machines but I still had a lot of fat hanging around. My body fat percentage decreased significantly when I started CrossFit which included a lot of heavy weight lifting and I gained more muscle (which weighs significantly more). Another illustration: at 125 pounds I have fit into Size 7-9 pants, but also 3 or even size 1.
- Crash Dieting and Limiting Calories: If you ever read my post about Meal Replacement Shakes, you’ll find that that these products are making its way into more and more homes. The problem with these shakes is that calorie intake can reach to a dangerous low to the point where you will not be able to function correctly and your body can even start to fail itself over time. Your body NEEDS nourishment. There was a month where I probably ate a California Burrito after every workout session. This is a bad eating example but I mention it because I didn’t gain more weight or fat. My metabolism was at an all-time high due to all my muscle gain, so it didn’t affect me much in terms of weight. How I felt after those burritos was a different story. I did kick the bad burrito habit and felt way better after, that’s for sure!
- Over Training and Too Much Cardio: When trying to lose weight, there can be the danger of over training in the form of too much cardio. Run longer distances, work out longer, etc. This can actually be detrimental in that instead of gaining healthy muscle, your body starts to feed off your muscle tissue instead of fat. In the end, you may weigh less, but your body fat percentage is still high.
So now what? Working on fat loss takes a bit more discipline, but done well can achieve long, lifetime results. A few tips:
- Strength Train: Lift weights. And I don’t mean 1 pound dumbbells. You are stronger than that, trust me! The goal is to get strong to gain muscle, boost metabolism, and in turn burn fat (even while you’re resting). Remember, muscle will weigh more, so don’t be appalled if you realize you’re actually gaining more weight.
- Eat Well, and Eat Enough: Don’t starve yourself if you start working out harder. Instead of focusing on calorie intake, focus on portion sizes. Eat smaller meals throughout the day, focus on eating non-processed food (no fast food, packaged, etc).
- Drink Water: Drink a lot of water. Water will help flush out your system and speed up fat loss.
All in all, focus on how you feel, how your clothes fit and not a number on the scale. I hope these tips will help you on your health and fitness journey. Happy Training!