Are you blinded by the scale? For years, I had the same feeling, and for over two decades, I suffered from an eating disorder. My husband would wonder if I woke up with “fit or fat eyes” because what I saw in the mirror was determined by what the scale said.
So much of our conditioning as women revolve around numbers. The size of our pants. Our age. Especially how much we weigh. And unfortunately, society feeds off our insecurities and tries to capitalize on them.
But still, the age-old question remains. What does “being healthy” really mean?
After years of healing work, I know now that it matters more how I feel and look than what the scale says. But perhaps you’re still feeling like you need to get fit. Maybe you want to lose a little body fat and tone up those muscles.
I’ve never been a gym rat. For years, I had horses, and the barn chores that go with them kept me fit and strong. But my last horse passed a few years ago, and now I’m just not as strong and toned as I’d like to be. My body fat is higher, even though I weigh just a few pounds above my most fit body weight. In the midst of my eating disorder, I ventured into triathlons. My body fat got so low at 12% that I didn’t have periods! At the time, I weighed only 124 pounds at 5’2.
When I stopped competing, my weight dropped to 118 pounds, but my body fat increased to 18%. That’s because fat doesn’t weigh nearly as much as muscle. This is proof that the number on the scale does not reflect your body composition or your fitness level.
If you’re overweight and want to feel and look better, you need more lean body mass and less body fat. Strong, toned muscles weigh a lot and sturdy, dense bones weigh even more. The same pound of fat is 2.5 times as voluminous as lean body mass.
First, get out a tape measure and find an online tool to calculate your body fat percentage and lean body mass. No online tool will be exact, but it’s a good start to get more accurate numbers than the scale. Every inch lost from your waist and hips is equal to a percentage of body fat.
So to get into the fit zone of 24% or under, how many inches of fat loss is needed?
Your goal should be to have a good base of lean body mass. So, let’s say you do strength exercises and gain 2 pounds of muscle and bone while losing 3 pounds of fat. Your weight would only be down a pound but your body fat would be 3% lower, and you’d probably be down a pant size.
I encourage you to ditch your scale, and instead measure your body fat so you can calculate your lean body mass. It’s more important to your metabolic health to gain lean body mass (LBM) and lose extraneous body fat. And honestly, you’ll look and feel better.
Start working out. Do aerobic exercise three times weekly for at least 20-30 minutes to help increase LBM and burn fat. My HIT exercise routine is the easiest way I know to get lean fast.
Lower the amount of carbs you consume. This will encourage your body to use your body fat as energy. My Insulin Resistant Diet will help you lose that extra body fat, but maintain your lean body mass.
Focus on losing that belly fat first. The fat roll around your middle is inflammatory and leads to insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease.
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