As the Director of Training and Wellness Services at Performance Health & Fitness, it is part of my job to meet with new members. This is something I absolutely love because it allows me to establish a relationship with every member that walks through the door. It also gives me a chance to direct them to the wellness resources at our facility that may align with their individual goals and capabilities.
During the initial strategy session of our membership on-ramping program, members can sit down with me to discuss their individual health and fitness goals. Every person’s wellness journey is different and it is important for you to know what your individual situation is in order to find the right path to success. What works for your neighbor won’t necessarily work for you – so it’s important to figure out what YOU like and what works for YOU.
The most common goal that I hear from our members is that they want to lose weight, but what does that really mean?
I wish that I could go to everyone’s house and take a sledgehammer to their scale. Most people tend to have an unhealthy relationship with their scales – weighing in everyday and going crazy! The typical household scale measures total body weight, which includes water, body fat, and muscle mass. Quick day-to-day weight loss is a loss in water weight.
Hydration Tip: weigh yourself before and after a workout. One pound loss means that you need to replenish your body with 1 cup of water to rehydrate. Cool huh?
Fast weight loss for the average individual of 5-10 lbs generally means that not only are you losing some body fat but you are also losing muscle mass. Wait, isn’t that what we are trying to gain? Correct! When we lose weight too fast we are contradicting what we are trying to achieve in our strength workouts, which is to increase lean muscle tissue. To make sure that we are losing only body fat we know that we are on track when we lose about 1-2 lbs per week.
Honestly, losing weight is much more than losing pounds on the scale – it is about changing your body composition. This is really hard and takes a long time, so be patient with yourself! When people come to me and say they want to lose weight, I try to advise them to worry less about the number on the scale, and focus on a healthy body composition. This means less than 30% of body fat for the average woman and less than 20% of body fat for the average man. For a great reference on what is generally considered healthy, check out this article from healthcare.utah.edu.
Do you ever wonder why people that weigh the same could look so different? It’s because one person has a lower body fat percentage than the other. Muscle weighs more than fat and takes up less space in your body than fat so that is why we tell people to go by how their clothes feel rather than what the scale says.
You may be wondering “well what about my BMI?” BMI or body mass index is determined by your weight and your height. This doesn’t account for muscle mass and remember: muscle weighs more than fat. I wish there wasn’t so much emphases on BMI – because a person that has 7% body fat but has a lot of muscle can be categorized as Stage 2 obese even though they have a healthy body composition.
As we age there a few things that change – and two of them are that our muscle mass naturally goes down which also slows down our metabolism. This is a part of the natural aging process which makes it easier to have a higher body fat percentage. As we age our goals should include consistent strength training of at least 2x’s per week and supplement that with proper nutrition so that we lose muscle mass at a slower rate. This is not a process that we can stop completely, but we can help slow the process by implementing these lifestyle habits on a regular basis. By having more muscle mass our metabolism stays high, increases bone strength, maintains our independence, and help keep our body fat in a healthy range.
Are you curious about your own body composition? Visit me at Performance Health & Fitness and get your body fat tested either by a BIA machine or by purchasing a biometrics analysis with one of our certified personal trainers. This will give you a much better indication of how healthy you really are and help you rely less on the scale you have in your home.
If one of your goals is weight loss, make sure that you change the terminology and your mindset to changing your body composition. As long as your clothes are fitting the way you want, you know you’re on the right track.
Want to learn more about Health Coaching? Schedule a free 30-minute Health Coaching strategy session and see if it’s good fit for you.