What does weight loss look like? Sounds like an odd question, doesn't it? I mean, weight loss should be obvious. Well, by the numbers, it is. You jump on a scale and if you weigh less than you did before, you've lost weight. It's that simple. But it doesn't mean that you're healthy, fit or lean…not even by a long shot. There is just no way an everyday scale can tell you if you're eating right, working out appropriately or managing your stress - all of which contribute to the overall health and fat on your body. Yet the value we place on that number on the scale has the ability to take someone from an "I-feel-great.-Let's-see-how-much-I-weigh" sort of mood to an "I-can't-believe-I've-gained-2-pounds. What-have-I-done-wrong?" sort of mood.
I'm happy to tell you that weight loss doesn't always look like weight loss. Two women can weigh the exact same amount, but be an entirely different shape. Woman "A" might weigh less, but she could also be carrying around a lot more body fat, especially if she's not eating right, eating enough or exercising. Woman "B" might weigh more, but she could be lean, carrying less body fat, most likely because she's eating healthy and exercising regularly. She might also have a smaller waistline!
The recipe for a healthy weight is 6 PARTS DIET, 2 PARTS FITNESS and 1 PART STRESS MANAGEMENT.
This isn't based on any scientific study, rather my professional opinion and a little common sense. What and how much you eat are absolutely the most important ways to stay healthy. As much as I love working out, exercise pales in comparison to diet. That said fitness is still very important, but you don't have to workout hours a day to develop muscle, stay toned and get all the benefits of exercise. Last but not least, stress management has to be in this recipe. If you can't manage your stress, you'll have a hard time finding the motivation to eat right, exercise and do the things in life you love.
Should you care how much you weigh?
Well, you should know how much you weigh, and if you need to make changes, do it. Most of us are, in fact, overweight. It seems that this awareness does very little to help reverse the growing trend of creeping obesity; our waistlines continue to grow. Get a grip on how much you weigh. If you see that you're overweight, or if you know that you have extra body fat that shouldn't be there, get moving. Don't wait to go up another pant size or to let out another notch on the belt. At the same time, once you know what you weigh, put that number to bed and take action. Don't obsess. It will do you no good.
How often should you weigh yourself?
I usually encourage my clients to weigh themselves at the beginning of a program, then once again toward the end of any given target date. Once in a while, if the program or training plan is particularly long, I ask them to weigh themselves again at a mid-point. Believe it or not, this is so my clients don't lose too much weight too fast.
Some fitness professionals recommend stepping on the scale every week, or even every day. I think this is too much - especially if the person trying to lose the weight is eating healthier and exercising in ways they weren't before.
TIP: If you want to monitor whether or not your body is changing, take pictures or take measurements. A perfect case in point is my client, Cindy. She was a part of a bootcamp I did for Steve Harvey. Of all the women in the bootcamp, Cindy lost the least over 2 months, but her body changed dramatically! Had she not taken photos, the motivation to keep moving could have been stalled.
If you're wondering how much you should weigh, I wish I had a perfect answer for you. Someone like me (I'm 5'6" and a medium bone frame) can weigh anywhere between 120 and 145 and still be within a healthy weight range. That's a 25 pound swing! I've worked with plenty of people who carry much more muscle mass, weigh more, but are quite lean. On the flip side, I've worked with clients who weigh less, but have a much higher body fat percentage.
A few things you can do today that will help get your body on the right track include:
- SLEEP: It's the top of the list. People who sleep less (fewer than 6 hours for prolonged periods) have much more body fat than those who get the requisite 7 to 8 hours. It all has to do with hormones and sleep cycles. You'll never be "fine" on 5 hours of sleep.
- WATER: Water is life. If you don't drink enough, you're not only dehydrated, but you're also hanging onto more toxins that you need to. Water helps flush many of those toxins out. When toxins leave, fat metabolism and liver function are more efficient. Drink water often.
- EAT FAT: If I told you that half of my calories in my diet came from high quality fats would you believe me? Well it's true. I start the morning off with a tablespoon of fish oil and pepper in plenty of avocado, nuts, coconut oil and olive oil throughout the day. I avoid foods with junky fats that wreak havoc in my body, like corn, canola and soybean oil. Avoid bad fat, eat more good fat.
- DO INTERVALS: If you only did one form of exercise and you want to lose weight, do intervals. Nothing works better at jumpstarting your metabolism. What's more nothing helps naturally increase human growth hormone that begins to decline after we reach adulthood. Intervals make you feel good and next to the fountain of youth are the best thing for maintaining a youthful body. Here are a few short, sweet sample workouts.
- LESS FRUIT MORE VEGETABLES: We always hear we should eat more "fruits and vegetables." I say we should eat mostly vegetables and some fruit, but not too much. Fresh vegetables (lightly cooked or frozen are good runners up, too) provide phytonutrients our body can use the second we begin digesting them. They're alive and useful. They don't get wasted and provide the energy our body needs. Fruits are good, but go easy on them. Fructose, the form of sugar found in fruit, is hard on the liver and if eaten in excess, actually gets stored as triglyceride. That's right, too much fruit can actually increase your triglyceride levels.
- EAT A MODERATE AMOUNT OF PROTEIN: Unless you know your body thrives on a high protein diet, eat a reasonable amount, but not too much. It's important to get high quality protein after a hard workout, and in each meal, but you don't need to eat a dozen eggs, or a 12 ounce steak every time your fork hits the plate. The optimal words for protein selection is "high quality." If you eat meat, make sure it's grass fed. If you're eating plant-based proteins, make sure they're organic and pesticide-free. Your body doesn't need it!
Traci is a nationally-recognized health and fitness coach, and the current coach working with Steve Harvey's Bridal Bootcamp. Traci has also been featured on Dr. Oz, The TODAY Show, in SHAPE, SELF and local news programs. Her specialty is weight loss through clean eating and interval-style training. Traci is available for private coaching and corporate consulting. To contact Traci, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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