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By Greg DiNatale, Director of Fitness Education
Congratulations! You have decided, really decided this time, to lose weight. Alternatively, maybe you are on the opposite end of the spectrum, and it is muscle you are looking to increase. Once you have selected and committed to your goal, it is important to hold yourself accountable to that goal. Lack of accountability is one of the biggest reasons why so many have trouble ever reaching their health and fitness target.
If you have decided to go at this alone and forsake the guidance of a professional trainer (and why, oh why would you do such a thing?), you will need some criteria to keep you on track. By this I mean numbers, and by numbers, what a realistic fat loss or muscle gain goal is?
Start by getting an initial reading of your weight, body fat, muscle, and water on the InBody machine located in your club. Most of our members have, as part of their Total or Fit memberships one InBody weigh-in per month. Ask for yours at the front desk or from any trainer! The InBody is a wonder machine that will give you the information I mentioned – you will not have to guess what results you are getting at all. Also, take your circumference measurements using a tailor’s type measuring tape.
Next, do your best to comply with the dietary and exercise strategy (this could be the subject of endless posts) you have determined will be best for you (a big reason to work with a trainer – no guessing!) and weigh yourself in each week. The weekly weigh-in is going to let you know if your strategy is moving you in the right direction. There is no need to take your body fat or circumference measurements that often as there will not be as much change in those from week to week. However, how much loss or gain should you be seeing?
If fat loss is your goal? One pound (maybe a little more, perhaps a little less) per week. If muscle gain is your goal? One quarter (women) to one half (men) of a pound per week. I know, not cool or sexy! However, there is a big problem with cool and sexy (when it comes to quick weight loss or muscle gain).
The majority of people who lose weight rapidly put that weight back on. Moreover, at least half, if not more of the weight they lost was not only fat tissue. When members put on weight rapidly, I can virtually guarantee that it was not all muscle they gained. The result of your program should be sustainable and permanent fat loss or muscle gain! Design your style of eating and exercise programming around what you will be able to maintain for the rest of your life. If not, then the alternative is to understand how you will need to change the variables of your program once you are unable to sustain the behaviors that got you results (working with a trainer is sounding better and better, right?). The best way to attack this is to start with what you can do in a less than perfect week (when the kids need a ride everywhere every day, you are working late, traveling), and while the results may be slower in coming, they will come and more importantly stay!
I can not emphasize enough that unrealistic expectations lead to many failed programs. We have worked with hundreds of members who have been gaining weight steadily for months or years or stuck on a body weight plateau for what seems like an eternity. They start a realistic, sustainable program with a trainer and when they step on the scale after their first week are disappointed that they “only” lost half a pound. Are you kidding! If you have been going the other way for a while or stuck on entirely no progress for longer, any improvement is AMAZING progress! Be kind to yourself, realize that getting results is difficult! Achieving a weight loss or muscle gain goal requires changing many behaviors and learning many new skills, both of which are not easy. The most significant challenge is often the mental challenge of realizing satisfaction from small, steady progress (the journey) and not solely from the result. All of the half pound losses (or gains) are going to add up and going to stay off (or on) for a lifetime!
You can start your weight loss, or muscle gain fitness journey today. Get your complimentary fitness assessment.