Don't Lose Weight... Lose Fat (and Build Muscle)!

When new clients join Persevera, we ask them to share their goals with us. One of the most common refrains that we hear is: “Help me lose weight!” Now, it’s our job to help our members achieve their objectives, but on this one, we humbly suggest that a shift in focus may be warranted.

Inches, Not Pounds

Our first recommendation is for members to refocus their goal on losing fat rather than losing weight.  Losing excess body fat can yield many benefits, including healthier organs, an improved immune system, greater resistance to disease, improved hormonal balance, a superior mood and, of course, an enhanced appearance.

But if losing excess body fat, all else equal, reduces weight, why is the distinction between weight loss and fat loss so important? Because, for most of our members, fat loss is only part of the equation, which leads to our second recommendation: while training to lose excess body fat, members should also focus on gaining muscle.

Like fat loss, building muscle offers its own set of health benefits, including increased strength, improved bone quality, an elevation in endorphin levels, and enhanced mobility, stability and coordination.  And because gaining muscle, all else equal, increases weight, it becomes obvious that losing weight may not always be optimal! 

Persevera’s training techniques alter the body’s hormonal environment to be conducive to both shedding fat and building muscle tissue.  By training diligently with us at Persevera, and through proper (and individualized) nutrition, some of our members lose weight, some see only a modest change, and even others gain weight.  But one outcome is certain:  the composition of our members’ body weight changes, with a reduction in fat and an increase in muscle.  And that is a goal worth aspiring to!

Measuring Performance

Ah, the traditional scale—ubiquitous, simple to use, and, in mere seconds, able to deliver a single number against which success or failure can be benchmarked. But the readout that a traditional scale offers is incomplete at best, as it does not appreciate how much of your body’s weight is attributable to fat and how much is attributable to muscle.

Instead of relying solely on a traditional scale, then, we would suggest measuring your overall progress informally by evaluating improvements in your levels of strength and stamina and even by taking notice of how much better your clothing fits.

For those who seek more concrete feedback, look for tools that allow you to monitor body composition.  If you’re tech-savvy, there is an ever-increasing number of gadgets that measure body fat percentage, ranging from new, high-tech step-on scales to ultrasound devices.  And if you’re a luddite looking for a cheaper, lower-tech measurement tool, look no further than a simple measuring tape.  Measure your waist, where many of us hold excess body fat, by starting at the top of your hip bone, then bringing the tape measure all the way around your body until it is level with your belly button.  As you lose fat and build muscle while progressing in your regimen, you are likely to see the inches around the abdomen fall away.

The Message

If weight loss is one of your current fitness goals, we encourage you to:

  • refocus on fat, rather than overall weight, loss,

  • appreciate the many health benefits of concurrent lean muscle gain, and

  • talk to your Persevera trainer about ways in which you can track your progress without relying solely on a traditional scale.