The most common reason people want to start exercising or change their nutrition is to lose weight. But, lets get something straight first… muscle does not weight more than fat. One pound is one pound, whether it is muscle, fat, marshmellows or steel. So when we talk about losing weight, we should be talking about losing body fat. Either way, the scale is decieving. If you are on a solid program you are likely losing fat but gaining muscle at the same time so the scale may not move as quickly as you’d like. Dont let this discourage you! If you have a lot of excess fat to lose than the scale is going to go down more quickly at first, but will slow down eventually. So, a better way to measure your success is by pictures, measurements and the way your clothes fit.
I understand no one wants to take a “before” photo, but it is the one thing I wish everyone would do. Sustainable change happens slowly and without the before photo you will not see how much you are progressing! Not just your body losing body fat but your body changing shape and appearance.
For many, the first thing that comes to mind when trying to lose body fat is a calorie restricted diet. Yes, to lose body fat you NEED to be in a calorie deficit. But you also need to find a way to burn more calories long term not just when you are exercising. The first thing that usually comes to mind for calorie burn is cardio. I happen to love cardio but most of my clients do not. Although cardio helps, it is not the most effective way to get into a long term caloric deficit and increase your resting metabolic rate. Building lean muscle is. This means strength training.
In my opinion a balanced program invovles some cardio and some strength training. Initally though, most people focus on just cardio and forget the strength. Why? No one initially gives muscle enough credit. Muscle burns more calories pound for pound, all day long, verus straight cardio. Cardio burns calories in the moment of exercise and slightly after. HIIT is shown to have an after burn effect for slightly longer. But nothing and I mean nothing will increased you daily resting metabolic rate (aka burn more calories for longer) as much as lean muscle. It burns calories during the exercise, during the rebuilding and repairing process, and literally all day long!
So, get off the diet / cardio rollercoaster because if you havent noticed yet as soon as you go back to old eating habits and get burnt out on the endless, mindless cardio…. all the weight you lost comes back. If you really want to see change that lasts focus on building lean muscle.
Women often worry about getting “too big”. Women are genetically different than men in so many ways… one of which is the ability to “get big”. Women will naturally develop an athletic look, not bulky and big comparable to a man. Plus, the great thing about strength training is you can just maintain at any time. You dont have to keep trying to get bigger once you like the way you look and feel. Just maintain it!
So if you really want to lose body fat and change the appearance of your body in a way that lasts long term, strength training is where its at… with a little cardio sprinkled in there. Building lean muscle will give you the sustainable results you want without the need to be on a “diet”. Keep building muscle and keep knowing those calories are burning.
Once last thought…. even if we take fat loss off the table as an incentive….. As we age we naturally lose muscle, so what does this mean? Our bones have less support. Our daily resting metabolic rate slows down. We become more prone to losing our balance and falling or more prone to injuries. It is important to stay ahead of the aging process and keep your muscles strong and healthy and increase overall longevity. Again… whats the solution? Strength training.
The benefits of strength training are so numerous across all levels of health and fitness. And you are never too old or too weak to start. You can start as light as you need to, you are still building lean muscle if it is challenging. You can progress to being as strong as you want or choose to maintain at any time. The one thing I can tell you is truly working on building lean muscle will be the best and easiest way to reach your goals.
If you need help getting started let me know!