Getting in shape has little to do with losing weight.
I find that people focus too much on it.
Body weight represents the weight of your total bodily content which is mainly composed of water, muscle and fat.
And when you lose weight, it’s always a mixture of some water, muscle and fat. In the beginning, your weight loss is usually mostly from water since it’s the easiest and quickest weight to shed, but as you progressively keep losing more weight the ratio of water, muscle and fat mixture starts to change…and believe it or not in many cases the ratio shifts towards more water and muscle and not as much fat.
And that’s because when you’re focused on losing weight only…you tend to do things that’s more conducive to losing muscle weight rather than fat.
You see fat is inherently “stubborn”, it doesn’t like to give itself up for energy unless it’s absolutely necessary. For instance, dire survival situations where there’s lack of food and the only way you can survive is by using fat for energy. Fat usually only comes into play when all other sources of energy are depleted.
So that means when you participate in a typical “calorie burning” cardio based exercise that requires large amounts of energy for 1 – 2 hours… typically this is what happens. First, your body uses glucose/glycogen for energy, then it turns to muscle for energy because it’s more readily available to provide energy than fat. Finally when glycogen and muscle are both being utilized, your body reluctantly turns to fat as the last source of energy.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a clean, step by step process, there’s overlap and in reality your body uses a mixture of all energy sources at one time. BUT what’s important to keep in mind, is that fat provides the least amount of energy during a typical “calorie burning” exercise like running, biking or even aerobics that lasts for 1 – 2 hours.
So what’s the big deal…I mean you’re still losing weight which is ultimately your end goal…right?
Well, not quite. See, although muscle weighs more than fat, it’s also more metabolically active than fat which means it burns more calories. AND guess where those calories come from? You guessed it…FAT! Having lean muscle allows you to burn off unwanted stubborn fat, which is what’s ultimately going to get you that lean, toned and tight body.
So you see…weight loss isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong, weight loss is usually par for the course when you get lean and fit, but it’s only one aspect. I think a much better gauge for getting lean, fit and healthy is your body measurements and improvement of overall strength and endurance. And the best method to build lean muscle while increasing overall fitness level is using full body exercises. Full body exercise involves the use of multiple large muscle groups – preferably involving both your lower body and upper body at the same time. The more muscles that are involved in the exercise the better.
Over exercising…especially doing long cardio activities, will make you weak, tired and keep you fat. It’s the best way to “lose weight” without getting leaner or more fit while retaining most of your stubborn fat. Even worse, you’ll be setting yourself up for a vicious cycle of on again off again weight loss. You see, once you lose lean muscle, your metabolism will naturally slow down…no matter how much you exercise. Then you’ll likely revert to cutting calories or going on extreme diets to keep trying to losing weight, until you get so frustrated from not seeing any weight loss, that you quit.
So instead of focusing on weight loss, shift your attention to these 3 key factors, so you can make your journey to a healthier, leaner and fitter body a successful one.
#1 Focus on keeping your lean muscle mass by lifting weights using full body exercises. The more lean muscle means higher metabolism…and that ultimately equals more fat loss… not water and muscle loss. So don’t concern yourself too much with body weight since it’s not representative of what kind of progress you’re actually making.
#2 Take measurements of your body. This is a much more accurate way to keep track of your progress. Although muscle weighs more than fat, it also takes up less space than fat. Therefore burning off fat and replacing it with lean muscle mass will reduce the overall size of your body. NOTE: For men, getting lean and fit may mean reduce overall size BUT not in appearance. Losing fat and gaining lean muscle will make you look more defined and muscular. And the same goes for women as well. Building lean muscle by lifting challenging weights won’t make you look bulky or manly…rather you’ll end up getting tight, trimmed and toned
#3 Focus on improving your strength and endurance rather than just your weight. By gaining strength and building more stamina, you’ll have more energy and be fit enough to partake in any activities so you can enjoy life to the fullest!
Keeping your focus on these 3 key factors will help you make consistent progress to get leaner and more fit, while avoiding the most common traps and pitfalls of overexercising and chronic dieting.