Thursday, 29 October 2015

Weight Loss: Lean or Fat? ... Be Patient

One of the most common reasons people join a gym is to lose weight. I have spoken about fad dieting and the media / fashion industry (pressure to be sickly and stick thin) before so wont dwell on my feeling toward that too much here. What I do want to focus on is the process and resulting psychology of weight loss.

When clients, friends and family ask me how to lose weight they look disbelieving and dejected at me when I say you should aim to loose between 1-2lbs per week. They expect (because media and fads dictates) to lose 7 or 8 lbs per week. It rarely works like that in truth. Rapid weight loss is routinely followed by rapid weight gain. I strongly suggest to them that they exercise patience and trust in the process of losing weight for the long term. Unfortunately many still find it difficult to foresee the end game and therefore become demotivated and depressed. People need to understand that weight is made up of more than just fat therefore rendering overall weight on a set of scales as only partially relevant.

For new exercise beginners, I recommend that for the first four weeks you try to look for some alternative benefits so you can to prove to yourself that you are on the right path.

1.      Clothes feel looser

2.      Feel healthier

3.      Carry yourself better – improved posture and confidence

4.      Look slimmer in mirror, new curves / others people noticing

5.      Heightened alertness and more energetic.


Of course everyone is built slightly differently. We all have different genetics, natural abilities, varying fitness levels, different sizes and body compositions so first off DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS! What works for one person may not work for you. For example a person with more body fat to loose, who has never exercised before will likely lose more fat, initially, than an experienced exerciser who is only 7lbs over weight.

If you train 3-4 times per week and eat healthy, natural and organic foods in frequent small doses you will lose weight. Your calorie expenditure will outweigh your calorie intake. You will also increase your muscle mass and therefore metabolism thus burning calories and emptying fat cells more efficiently.

All the while weight comes off people are happy. That’s great but I would like to make it clear that it can take a couple of weeks to kick start so try not to despair!  

When you join a gm or start a vigorous exercise routine your body may initially do two things

1.      Go into a survival mode – Your body panics at the sudden increase in calories being used up and expended. It can actually hold on to fat cells ensuring you don’t run out of your vital fat stores. (it goes back to early hunter gatherer days where we didn’t know where the next food source was coming from) This doesn’t necessarily happen after one workout but more after a dramatic change in lifestyle from sedentary to active. It is important to keep eating and not starve yourself, otherwise apart from making yourself very ill you will encourage your body to heighten its survival mode further, therefore making it even harder to lose weight.


2.      Slowly begin toning up. At JW CORE a large proportion of what I teach is full body functional training movements utilising as many muscles, all working together, as possible. This type of training increases healthy lean muscle and promotes strong movement patterns and posture. I am not saying my clients rapidly pack on size but the extra muscle tissue is very dense compared to that of fat…. 3 times as dense.

Many clients, for the first couple of weeks claim they have not lost weight. They feel fitter and look healthier but on the scales they are the same….. Muscle gain will slow down overall weight loss but it will increase BODY FAT loss. All the time we are sitting behind a desk at school or work, we are defying what we are evolved to do and that is living off the land and, moving around. Hence we are atrophying as a species. (loosing bone density, muscle mass, healthy tissue)


Continuing from my second point, once you have improved your muscle mass you will naturally burn more calories up, just maintaining the extra muscle volume you have acquired… even when your asleep! Weight loss while you’re sleeping, can’t be bad! You just need to be patient for it to kick in!

Give yourself four weeks for your body to acclimatise to exercise and your healthy eating plan. This time will allow for you to improve your muscle function and mass. Then if you haven’t already, you will begin losing weight.

Remember weight is only one piece of the puzzle. I personally recommend you pay more attention to your shape, how you feel and your clothes sizes and fitting. Get out of the old mentality of weighing yourself every day. Weigh yourself once a week maximum. Give yourself a pat on the back if you have lost 1-2lb. When you repeat that for 6 months and you will have lost 2-3 ½ stones and that is significant. You will have better lean tissue and essentially you will have actually built up a permanent habit / lifestyle, meaning the chance of putting the weight back on is dramatically decreased.

In conclusion

·        Build muscle mass to loose fat.

·        Don’t panic if you haven’t lost weight in the first 4 weeks. See it as your body stabilising so be patient.  

·        Understand the difference between lean weight and body fat weight.

·        Avoid becoming depressed if you haven’t lost weight on the scales – think long term.

·        Look for other improvements and differences rather than depending on scales.


I hope you find this article useful.


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