I’ve been in this game long enough to know exactly what works and what doesn’t when it comes to fat loss. Today, I’m sharing 4 things you need to know about losing fat and how to ignite the process in your body. Some of these things may surprise you as they did for me when I first learned them.
I was always on the thinner side growing up. When I first began working out, I was killing it in the gym, eating healthy and I was already skinny. Yet, I couldn’t see any muscle definition, which was quite frustrating. I didn’t understand it but soon investigated fat loss. I want to share the 4 most important things I’ve learned over the past 7 years, so that you can see results more efficiently than I did.
- FAT LOSS IS DIFFERENT THAN WEIGHT LOSS
Indeed, fat loss is not the same thing as weight loss. Weight is that silly number on the scale that really has no significant meaning and it shouldn’t. Funny thing… I’ll never forget being in class one day when we learned our body weight is, scientifically speaking, a force of gravity acting upon us as an object. It seems so silly that we are so worried about some gravitational force, doesn’t it?!
Anyway, on the contrary fat and fat loss has to do with body composition. You can take 2 individuals who both have the same body weight: 60kg. Susie may be 60kg and look fit and lean. Her body composition has a higher percentage of muscle and lower percentage of fat. Sally has the same 60kg body weight but carries more body fat and has less muscle mass, so she physically looks different even at the same weight.
From how I eat to how I workout and how I put together plans and challenges, it’s about fat loss not weight loss. This is why I don’t simply eat less calories or try to burn more calories. I eat specifically for my goals (more on that in #3) and train specifically to promote fat loss through weight training. Bottom line… don’t worry about your body weight or weight loss and instead focus on what you can do to promote fat loss if your goal is to get fit and defined.
- MUSCLE MATTERS
Oh, yes it does! Muscle is like a metabolic furnace. Muscle cells burn calories (a lot of them!) just to sustain themselves. Basically, the more muscle we have, the higher our basal metabolic rate aka the amount of calories (energy) we burn at rest. Have you ever wondered how that guy you know can eat an entire pizza and not gain an ounce yet you look at it and gain a kg?! I’m totally kidding and exaggerating, but the point is that a lot of men and those who have greater muscle mass can sustain lower body fat because of that muscle.
I’ve noticed this for myself. Even now, I can eat way more and get away with eating a few more treats because of the muscle I have on my body as compared to myself several years ago when I weighed less yet had less muscle and more fat. Muscle helps ignite the fat burning process.
- GENERAL HEALTHY EATING DOESN’T ALWAYS CUT IT
This was a difficult one for me to learn. It happened about 3 years ago, which meant that I was already 4 years into my health and fitness journey. For years, I was committed to “healthy eating.” Yet, I still wasn’t seeing the results I was hoping for, especially my stubborn belly fat. Sound familiar? It may be that you’re doing the general healthy eating I was doing. It feels a little bit like you’re on a hamster wheel, cranking out what you know needs to happen but you’re not getting anywhere.
Here’s how I jumped off that general healthy eating hamster wheel and finally lost fat… I first looked at a women’s nutritional needs for an entire day. Then, I tweaked that based on what my physical goals were. That’s key! Eating for your goals. For me, my goals have always been to achieve a fit, muscular body yet stay lean and defined. That meant I would need to eat a little more protein than the average women to help with muscle synthesis. I could also use carbohydrates to my advantage, eating a bit more and timing them out strategically because my body would benefit from them during my weight lifting workouts.
Here are the big takeaways from how I stopped general health eating and lost fat: 1) eat in alignment with your goals 2) listen to your body and tweak as needed… 3) it’s not about eating healthy food; it’s eating food in a specific way that works with your body and goals 4) portions portion portions and balanced macro nutrients at each meal.
- FAT LOSS HAS “SEASONS”
This is probably the most important point I want to make because it helped promote so much self love and body confidence for me that I no longer “worried” about my body fat. Fat loss has seasons just like life has seasons. I’m not talking about summer, fall, winter and spring; I’m talking about life’s seasons of priorities.
Life has a funny way of presenting us with seasonal situations. We go through seasons of sickness, career success, relationship break ups, marriage, adventure, childbirth, death, etc. During those different seasons, we shift our priorities and our goals.
When Christmas, birthdays, holidays and Easter rolls around I eat what I want, while health is always foundational in my life, my goals of “staying lean” fall a little lower on the list. That’s okay! My focus is decorating our home, welcoming guests and enjoying time together.. There is no guilt or worry. You just roll with it.
On the contrary, a wedding for example. There are still lots of celebration, friends, family and memories, but this time, health and fitness goals would be near the the top of your list. After all, you want to look and feel amazing on your big day. That is a season health (and fat loss!) would be important to you.
Roll with your seasons. You may be in a season where a vacation is in your near future and shedding some body fat is important to you. Or, you may be going though a season where you’re moving, extra focused on work or simply placing your energy elsewhere, and fat loss just isn’t important at the moment. Great! We feel balance when we embrace our current season.
Having lower body fat won’t make us any more beautiful. We are already amazing. It’s simply a shift of priorities and goals based on the season we are in and those seasons are always changing.