It’s time to hang up your winter coat! We’re sharing 12 healthy “hacks” from our experts to help jumpstart new spring routines. Today’s post is from certified trainer Samantha Schramm.
Have you ever set a goal to get healthy by losing a specific amount of weight? If so, you know how easy it is to get fixated on the numbers on the scale. But the key to healthy, successful weight loss is much more than just dropping pounds.
That’s why we’ve brought on certified trainer Samantha Schramm to debunk three common weight loss myths and help you lose weight the healthy way.
Myth #1: “Getting fit” means “Losing weight.”
Truth: Getting fit means lowering your body fat percentage.
99% of the people who walk into my office tell me they want to lose weight – but what they really mean is they want to lose fat. When trying to get fit, dropping numbers on the scale is only part of the picture. Your body weight is made up of things like muscle tissue and water in addition to fat. When you lose muscle or water it can show up as “weight loss” on your scale, but can actually be bad for your body.
Tip: To make sustainable changes in your body health and appearance, it’s important to make sure to burn fat and build muscle. So in addition to tracking weight, be sure to track both body fat percentage and lean mass percentage with a tool like the Aria Smart Scale. Body fat percentage is the portion of your body made up of fat cells. Lean mass percentage is everything else: muscle, organs, bones, water, etc. Together, they add up to 100% of your body composition.
The ideal body fat percentage is different for everyone, but I recommend that my clients target the “Athlete” or “Fitness” ranges developed by the American Council on Exercise. For women this is 14 – 24% body fat and for men it is 6 – 17%.
Myth #2: All weight loss is good.
Truth: Fat loss within a healthy range is good, but muscle loss can have long-term health consequences.
When your body fat percentage goes down and your lean mass percentage goes up, you are making a healthy, sustainable change in your body. A decline in body fat may not even show up as weight loss on a scale: if you are building muscle and increasing your lean mass, your “weight” may actually increase, and this is a good thing!
On the flip side, if you lose body weight on a scale, but your lean mass percentage declines, that generally means you are losing muscle or water, instead of fat. This can actually make it more difficult for your body to burn fat in the future, leading you to quickly gain back all that weight you lost.
Tip: Monitor your body composition alongside your weight loss. When you lose weight, make sure your body fat percentage is going down. If you gain weight, or stay the same weight, see if you lean mass percentage has increased – this can mean you are building muscle.
Myth #3: Excessive calorie restriction paired with cardio-only workouts lead to success.
Truth: Extreme programs can trigger stress responses that keep fat on.
Many people think they need to significantly restrict calories while excessively working out to lose weight, but this is another myth. This type of plan can actually create a hormonal stress reaction that may keep body fat on.
One issue I see regularly is the “Skinny Fat Phenomena”. This is when someone looks thin but actually has 30-40% body fat. The outdated scale tells them they have achieved their goal “weight” but in reality, they are nutrient depleted and their body has begun burning muscle, not fat, to feed itself. This may negatively affect their bone density or lead to metabolic disease, like Diabetes.
Tip: To build muscle, and burn fat, there are three basic guidelines:
- Feed Your Muscles – Eat lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to feed your muscles. Often we make poor food choices because we choose whatever is available on the go. On Sundays, plan or prepare meals for the week ahead. This gives you control and awareness of your eating.
- Become a Fat Burner – Alternate days between weight training and cardio to turn your body into a fat burner. When choosing weights, don’t be afraid to go heavy. Doing 10-12 repetitions 3x of a moderately heavy weight is proven to add muscle. Gage the proper weight by asking yourself, “Am I able to move this weight fluidly with the last 2 to 3 reps being work?”
- Avoid Plateauing – Your body is always preparing for the next challenge by adapting to the previous workout. Create variability by changing intensity and equipment on a weekly or monthly basis. If you have done a steady 30min on the elliptical, try doing sprints on the bike or rower next time. Or, change up weight and repetitions – hold repetitions to 10-12 but up the weight each week; or keep the weight steady and do more reps.
Everyone’s body is different so the specific goals will vary. But knowing your body fat percentage gives you the power to regulate a sustainable and healthy change in your body. With a tool like the Aria Smart Scale, you can change the conversation from, “How much weight should I lose?” to, “How do I create healthy, sustainable body composition?”