Updated: Jan 28
When working toward a healthy weight it can be easy find yourself fixated on the number on the scale, but a healthy weight is defined by so much more than that one number! A healthy waistline can be found in muscle gains and fat lost, by inches shed from your waist and hips, and overall improved health can be seen in improvements such as lowered blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels and even a decreased resting heart rate. That is a lot of factors! It's time to talk about the difference between Fat Loss and Weight Loss and reframe our perspective by clarifying and understanding ultimately what your goal is.
First, ask yourself....
What does healthy mean to me? What do you think of when you hear someone say they want to lose weight? Do you think severe calorie restriction? Cutting out entire food groups? Having to spend countless hours at the gym? Or maybe you just associate weight loss with feelings of deprivation and isolation. If you said yes to any one of the above, you are not alone. Often times when we think about getting healthy we can overwhelmed by what that might take or the best course of action to achieve results. If you can relate then I have good news, so be sure to read on!
Ever heard the question, “which weighs more - a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?" The answer is they weigh the same! A pound is a pound, right? The difference lies in how they are distributed within the body. When we have excess body fat (especially the bad fat) it can greatly influence our body composition, energy levels, health stats and more! When we lose fat and replace it with muscle we are better empowered to maintain a healthy waistline, reduce our risk of disease and enjoy an overall healthier quality of life. Think about this a minute - have you (or someone you know) ever embarked on a health and fitness journey? Incorporating healthy eating habits, obtaining regular exercise, then a few weeks later hopping on the scale only to see the scale has barely (if at all) moved? Yet, at the same time maybe you notice your pants fitting looser and muscle showing that wasn’t before. Or maybe you are feeling stronger, more energetic and enjoying being less winded when doing those day to day activities. So what gives? While there are many things that go on inside the body when it finds a place of health and harmony once again, the short answer here is we have lost fat and replaced it with muscle. And remember, a pound is a pound right? Yet much like 100 calorie pack of cookies and 100 calorie pack of fresh carrots and snap peas are not the same, neither are fat and muscle.
How can I achieve (and maintain) Fat Loss?
While there are many aspects to achieving Fat Loss, two of the most important to consider are calories in and calories out. If you are consuming more than you are using on a regular basis the bottom line is it will be nearly impossible to achieve and maintain a healthy waistline and overall healthy stats. Does that mean you have to start counting calories and spend hours at the gym? No. What it does mean is that we should increase our awareness of daily activities, both in diet and exercise. A good place to start is by taking note of your daily dietary consumptions - how many of the calories you consuming each day are empty, meaning the body can’t use them and they will likely be stored as fat. Empty calories are most commonly found in processed and convenience foods as well as high calorie beverages. What if you made a few healthy swaps to whole and more nutrient dense food items? Then start tracking just how much physical activity you are getting throughout the week. Are you utilizing opportunities to move more and keep that metabolic fire stoked or are you spending countless hours at a desk, in the car or on the sofa? It is hard to ask the body to offset countless hours of sitting still with 1 or 2 hours of exercise a week. What if you stood while talking on the phone, what if you took the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, or what if you made a pact with a loved one, friend or family member to go for a walk at the end of the day? What are some of the ways you can make a positive and meaningful impact to your health and support your Fat Loss goals?
Healthy Tips to reduce fat and gain muscle:
Decrease processed food consumption
Minimize unhealthy fat consumption (saturated and trans fats)
Reduce added sugars and salts
Consume more fruits and vegetables
Obtain lean proteins
Increase water intakes
Get regular exercise
Cardiorespiratory activities such as walking, biking, swimming and hiking
Strength training actives such as bodyweight exercises and utilizing resistance bands and free weights
Bottom line - well-balanced nutrition and regular physical activity empowers our ability to achieve and maintain a healthy waistline while also supporting overall health. If your goal is Fat Loss first think about things you can do in your daily routine to help support your goals. If you have been consistently embracing healthy habits and still the scale doesn’t seem to be moving, yet your clothes are fitting better, you’re noticing new muscle, experiencing improved energy and perhaps even others are starting to notice the positive changes, then things may be moving in a healthy direction. Focus less on the scale and more on your overall results!