Body Fat And Weight-Loss

You have taken the weight loss challenge, been consistent, and the scale has not moved!  What is going on?  You are ready to quit, you know this is good for you, but frustration is mounting; you are beginning to question the whole idea…is it a conspiracy?  Why hasn’t the scale moved and why  does my  (insert body part here:____________) still look like that?  There are a couple of reasons we do not see immediate change when we begin a weight loss program.First, weight loss is a slow, slow process. Forget the commercials claiming you’ll lose 7-15 pounds a week. If you drop a dress size that fast, that’s about how fast your dress size will come back, and you’ll probably gain a size as well. When you are trying to better your health, it is best to approach it as a lifestyle change, not just a short term goal.

As our bodies begin to adapt, it begins to change composition. As lean mass increases it does not immediately need stored energy. Fat is stored energy, think of fat as fuel. You have given your body fuel for a later date and it is holding on for as long as possible because it is smart, and your body gets twice as much energy for one gram of fat, meaning it will use all other possibilities first. It is important to remember that exercise is half the equation and you must consider diet the other half.

Simply put, the weight loss equation is: calories in, must be less than calories out. You must create a deficit if you are going to loss any fat, and you must do this over time to allow your body to used stored fat. As you begin the weight loss challenge your body begins to build lean mass. Think of lean mass as a positive – bones, blood, organs, muscle tissue, and everything that is not fat. As your lean mass increases, it needs more fuel to sustain function; therefore, as you consume a deficit in calories (food) your body will dip into stored fat as fuel. This is the point we begin to see weight loss. Consistency is the key to continued success. When losing weight ,trainers look for one to two pounds a week, this ensures it is lifestyle driving change. Your body needs time to adjust and accommodate activities, plus create balance in new patterns which support your continued health.

Exercise is a maintenance tool. You must continue to expend calories to maintain your weight. Exercise breaks down into two basic categories – cardiovascular and strength. We call cardiovascular training aerobic activity; or with oxygen. Our body performs work in different energy systems, and we want to work aerobically to burn fat. Strength training will help you build more lean mass, which will require more energy and calorie expenditure. This is what is known as raising our metabolism. Many complain as they age their metabolism drops and the weight rises. Are they as active as they used to be?

Diet is not supposed to mean deprivation. It may correspond with a current fad or book, but it should be something you can do, enjoy, and stick with. Diet simply is what you eat. If you follow portion control, eat as many whole (unprocessed) foods as possible, and variety you’ve got a good start. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie – I don’t care where it comes from – carbs, protein, or fat – it is all energy and your body will store it as extra fuel for a later date if it is given extra. So consume in moderation, give your body good food , and it will respond – no deprivation involved. Shop the outside of the grocery store – the produce, fresh meats/fish, dairy, and bakery (for whole grain breads) to help learn how to choose whole (unprocessed) foods.

Remember, your weight may go up before it comes down as you begin a weight loss program. Something that sounds too good to be true probably is, and it will take consistency over time to produce results. If you eat well you’ll feel well, and as you create a calorie deficit throughout your day your body will begin to use the fuel you’ve stored. The first step is the hardest, persevere and you’ll get there – take the first step this week.

Exercises for Good Health

We can’t avoid messages about better heath however many people are asking what are exercises for good health? Just being told to exercise can lead to uncertainty about how to become more healthy and eventually lead back to less-healthy habits out of shear frustration.

Consider your goals when deciding what your best choices regarding exercises for good health are. Do you want to run longer, walk further, lose weight, or gain mass? These big picture questions about your future health will direct you toward right exercises for your good health.

The five basic components of exercise should be a focused on in any fitness routine: cardiovascular, strength, endurance, body composition, and flexibility. How much you’ll focus in one area verses another will depend on your goals, fitness level, and time you have to devote.

In a nut shell, cardiovascular exercise works large muscles groups, strengthens our heart and lungs, and is done over a period of time, say 20-60 minutes. Muscle strength and endurance creates muscles strong enough to accomplish desired tasks (strength) over a period of time (endurance). Body composition is a ratio between fat and lean mass and will change according to your fitness. Flexibility training is a fancy name for stretching, but is very important because it keeps our muscles moving through full range of motion ready to respond to tasks we ask of them – lifting grocery bags, catching us as we slip on ice, running to first base, hugging your kids, lifting your best one rep max ever, the list goes on. (See older blog posts for more specifics on the 5 components of fitness)

In the end the best exercises for good health are those you will do!

Choosing Your Ideal Body

Have an image in your head of the ideal body? Think you need to look different than your current structure allows? How did you come up with that idea, anyway? What is your real body type?

Each person is different, therefore carry weight differently. There are three different body types, and each category is going to have different properties and will carry and build muscle differently.
A Mesomorph has an athletic build – usually builds muscle quickly, an Ectomorph is someone who is thin, may have trouble putting on weight, and tends to have a small bone structure, and an Endomorph is someone who easily puts on weight, and may have trouble losing it – no you are not all endomorphs.

It is not fair to judge yourself now if you are far from your “normal” body type. Most of us can remember where our bodies felt best, and it may not be on any ole’ chart. We can remember feeling strong, having energy, how good it felt to move. This is our ideal.

Unfortunately, we are constantly looking at images of other people which may not reflect what is best for us. Many people use the media’s portrayal of the human body as ideal however one must remember that media is an art form. Images are created, modified, and altered. What we see may not be real. Things get taped up, moved over, pulled tight, air brushed, and we often do not see the entire “stage” of an image – who is behind the model, how garments are held on, how are they standing, sitting, being held up, etc.

You are not a piece of art on display. You are a real human being with daily activities, responsibilities, and patterns, many not always glamorous. You want a body that supports your life demands and has the endurance to see you through the finish line. Set your ideal body accordingly.

What is Body Fat?

big guy weighing himself in the morning and shocked by what he sees

What is a better indicator of health and fitness success – how much you weigh or what your body fat percentage is? Many people don’t like thinking about their fat but its an important factor to be considered when working on your fitness.

Body fat is a measurement used to indicate health. There are a number of ways to measure body fat, all differentiate between your body fat vs your lean mass. Lean mass is everything but the fat, your blood, tissues, fluids, bones, muscles, everything else. When you jump on the scale you are measuring everything, which is not a great indicator of health. Think about a bodybuilder, they may have lots of lean mass and not much fat mass, but they will weigh more, likewise, a person who is thin with low body weight may have higher fat mass and may not be as healthy. Fitness professionals use it to determine goals for clients and how to approach training.
When looking for a professional to read your body fat, keep some limitations in mind. There are many types of body fat tests, and some tests are more accurate. Tester experience is a must. Tests can be less accurate due to your hydration levels, when you worked out last, who is performing the test, and the amount of sites taken (depends on test). The best way to get an accurate picture of your body fat is to begin with one tester, one method, and stick to it. Measure at the same time of the month and same time each time you test.

Following these guidelines will allow you to track your progress in a more controlled environment. Remember, bottom line is, if you are moving, you are on your way to health!