Do you remember being a kid and everything was just right with the world? There weren’t any pressures to do anything really other than not piss your parents off. Then elementary/junior high happened. All of a sudden body image became very important, and ever since then it seems as if everyone’s personal mantra is to LOSE WEIGHT. The statement everyone usually says is they want to “lose weight and tone up”. What they really mean is they want to burn fat and gain muscle. Yes, it is the same thing. No, there isn’t any difference.
Is your mind already confused? Countless articles have been written over the years with the phrase “tone up” being written down, usually with high repetition and low weight as the primary go-to workout. What these articles are talking about is muscular endurance versus muscular hypertrophy (gaining muscle). In order for you to “tone up” a muscular hypertrophy has to happen. It just has to. Accept it now for what it is and go on with life. “But I don’t want to bulk up like a man”. Good – you won’t. In order for a woman to bulk like a man, very special circumstances have to be in place… and for the average person this will never happen.
I promise I have a method to my madness. You see, when people talk about losing weight they often think in terms of the scale reflecting a smaller number than where they started off. This is ok if you are only concerned about weight loss, but understand there is a difference between weight loss and fat loss. With weight loss you run the risk of losing fat and muscle. You may end up being thin, but without any muscular gains there will be zero “tone” you are looking for. Other health issues come into play with this scenario, too but we will talk about that some other time.
So how do you get to this magical formula? I have found with many of the people I have worked with that there are a certain number of steps involved with this process, and I’ll list them below. For the sake of keeping things short we will only tackle a couple at a time per post, and only a few tools will be shared. We are going to talk about steps 1 and 2 today. So, without further ado, here are the steps I have seen the most:
- You have to REALLY decide you want to make a change.
- Set realistic goals
- Determine how in-depth you want to go
- Figure out what you are currently eating and why
- Determine your BMR/TDEE/Calorie Deficit
- Meal Plan
- Meal Prep
- Do it!
The first step is really deciding you want to make a change. There is more to this than just waking up one day and saying “I want to lose fat”. For a very scarce amount of people they can wake up with that decision and roll with it, but for the majority of people that ends up looking something like this video (with tons of profanity that shouldn’t be watched around kids. Or at work. Or around anyone who is easily offended). Did you watch it? It’s true, right??? I’ll be honest with you, that’s how my journey started out and it may or may not be a milder scale than that once a month… if you get what I mean. I’d start out like, yes I’m going to look like a fitness model before I have to get in a swimsuit (and it’s April). I’d go hard, and by the end of day two I would have eaten half a Little Caesars Hot ‘N Ready, would be curled in the fetal position, crying, and saying “it’s not worth it”. Then I would proceed with daily life as I knew it. Ultimately, I would never make it past the first step because deep down I really wasn’t committed. If you find yourself in this same boat, you may need to really ask yourself if you are truly committed as well.
Step two is set realistic goals. Once you have made up your mind to make a change you need to determine what it is you want to do. I have seen several people state they want to “get healthy” first, which is great… but “get healthy” is too broad. For these clients we focus on root cause issues such as stress, low energy, and highly processed diets. We set short term and long term goals, each of which must be realistic and attainable. For those of you in the corporate world, this would correlate into SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable/attainable, realistic, time-based). For example, you could say you want to track your meals. You would turn that into a SMART goal by stating you will log all of your meals in myfitnesspal by the end of 3 weeks, and you will share it with your trainer/coach at the end of each week. With fat loss it is important to set goals such as percentage of fat loss with lean muscle gain in a specific amount of time (ideally a monthly goal). Keep in mind that your goals are specific to YOU, and you have to be realistic about them. It is great to set high goals, but make those your long term ones, not short term, so you aren’t getting bent out of frame about not losing 5% body fat in 2 weeks (something that isn’t likely healthy). Also, keep in mind that while it is possible to lose fat and increase lean mass at the same time, it is more likely that you are going to need to decide if you want to burn fat or increase muscle first (again, so you don’t get discouraged). Where do you start for goal setting? Look at these options and really think about what it is you are looking for:
- Reduce/eliminate processed food
- Reduce body fat
- Increase lean mass
- Lower triglycerides, liver enzymes, cholesterol (get medical approval/monitoring from your doctor)
- Be confident
- Love yourself
Note that some of these could be difficult to put into a SMART goal, and that I mentioned to really think about what it is you are looking for. Feel free to contact me if you would like help with your goals! We will discuss the next steps next week.
Your biggest supporter,