I'll call this client Jean, who is in her 60's. She lost an amazing 6 pounds of body fat in 10 weeks, but here's the really amazing thing. She gained 0.4 pounds of muscle.
That may not sound like much muscle, but follow me for a moment. Because really, it IS.
If you diet and do cardio only, and lose 6 pounds of total body weight, approximately 4.5 pounds of that will be from fat and 1.5 pounds from muscle. You will lose 1.5 pounds of muscle from diet & exercise, if it is cardio only.
So, if Jean had done this without lifting, the scale might say she was down 6 pounds, but only 4.5 of that would be from fat. Instead, she not only prevented losing that incredibly important 1.5 pounds of muscle, she gained an additional 0.4 pounds. That's two rock solid pounds of muscle in the right direction, while losing fat! This is very, very difficult to do.
Let's extrapolate this amount to a year:
Jean lost 6 pounds of fat, added 0.4 pounds of muscle in 10 weeks.
She will lose 60 pounds of fat in a year, AND GAIN 2 pounds of muscle (which equates to preventing 15 pounds of muscle loss).
Listen, you may have lost 60 "pounds", or even 120 pounds, but if you weren't lifting consistently and heavy, your body composition is in trouble. Muscle is precious and vital as we age. Yet we throw it away on the diet and cardio lifestyle.
Here's some interesting math for a woman who weights 150 pounds:
- If she measures at 75 pounds lean body weight (muscle, organs and bone), and 75 pounds body fat, her body composition = 50% body fat
- If she measures at 90 pounds lean body weight, and 60 pounds body fat, her body composition = 40% body fat
- If she measures at 105 pounds lean body weight, and 45 pounds body fat, her body composition = 30% body fat
- If she measures at 120 pounds lean body weight, and 30 pounds body fat, her body composition = 20% body fat
I can imagine two women side by side, each weighting 150 pounds. One being told she is in the "obese" range, and one being told she is lean and healthy. I'd be walking out of there shocked and confused, too.
It all comes down to one thing.
It's so important but so misunderstood. Total weight loss is total BS. It literally means nothing. A number on a scale means NOTHING. I don't mean just emotionally and spiritually, even though that's true. But physically, it means nothing.
If you want good information about what's happening within that beautiful skin of yours, you have to understand it from the point of view of body composition. I remember back in the day, when I first started working with my trainer, and I got measured. I was fixated on the weight. How much did I weigh? How much can I LOSE? How "good" was I doing?
Then I started lifting a lot. And heavy. I got measured again and I had gone from 106 pounds of lean body weight to 109!! I built three rock solid pounds of muscle. That was my work. My sweat. My dedication.
You know what's funny? I remember those two numbers. 106 and 109. I have no idea what my total body weight was then, or even what my fat % was. My mind had healed and I'd finally shifted away from all the brokenness and false beliefs about my weight, the scale, and some number that I had let define me for a very long time.
Finally, it was about fitness, which is not nearly as much about loss as it is about GAINS.
Muscle mass gains.
Last winter was a rough one for me. I got off track, so this year has been all about getting back on track. And trust me, the temptation is there to diet, or to overdo the cardio so I can quickly lose. That's the lie.
If you are in this for the long haul, and you are in it to get healthy, the switch must be made from loss to gain.
From total body weight to body composition.
From fat to muscle.
That, my friends, is sustainable fitness. Let's do this!