It has been estimated that at any time of the year, about 38% of the US population are on some sort of diet or exercising program trying to lose weight. The sad thing is that nearly 95% of them end up abandoning their efforts, and for the few that are successful, even fewer have success in maintaining it.
Meanwhile, we are bombarded daily with advertisements and other media using models reflecting how we “should look”. It seems as if great part of what we see on television and in the press indicates that we are all overweight.
From my experience, most people who start on a diet fail only because they have the wrong goal of “losing weight”. The fact of the matter is, it isn’t that we have too much weight – it’s that we have too much FAT. There is a difference.
Before going on a diet, it’s important to know this difference, as setting the correct goal can make all the difference. Really, what you want to do is SLIM DOWN. When one “loses weight”, the weight could be lost in the form of water, muscle or fat. The thing is, you don’t want to reduce the amount of water or muscle in the body. Muscle in particular is what holds the skin in place. Without it, the skin would hang of your body like rags. Water (hydration), on the other hand, is vital to the metabolism, and whenever it is reduced, so is the metabolism.
So, what you should focus on is reducing your body fat by slimming down, NOT “losing weight”. The fat itself, after all, is what classifies us as “fat” – not excess muscle or water.
Aside from causing one to be overweight or obese, fat also creates other complications in the body. For one, it can fill up our arteries, causing high blood pressure and increasing our chance for heart attacks. For diabetics, excess fat can cause insulin resistance, making it impossible to control a diabetic condition. Excess fat can cause painful or irregular menstruation, or even infertility for many women.
Fat is a necessary substance within the body, but when it exists in excess, it causes a lot of hormonal and health problems. So, once again, what we want to do is reduce the FAT in our bodies and slim down.
Weight has never been a good way to determine how much fat the body contains. The reason for this is that the body consists of at least 65% water, and water weighs more than fat. Fat is not a heavy substance, which is why people who are overweight tend to float in water very easily. However, despite its weight, fat simply takes up quite a bit of space.
Thus, if you try to track your weight loss using a scale, you will not get an accurate picture of your progress. Instead, take note of how your clothing fits, as nothing will show your progress more than a pair of pants that are now loose!
As an additional note, if you have a tendency to get stressed out by weighing yourself, you may just be slowing down your progress even further. When you become stressed, your body produces a hormone called “cortisol”, which will make it difficult to lose weight. So, if you have a tendency to weigh yourself daily only to become more and more stressed, your metabolism will only become slower as a result.
So please, forget about your weight. If you must weigh yourself, do not do so more than once a week, but always keep in mind that the problem is not that you are “too heavy”. The true problem is that you have excess fat, which cannot be accurately reflected on a scale. Use your clothing or measurements as a way of tracking your progress instead.
And when you do slim down and someone asks you, “How much weight have you lost?”, tell them how many clothing sizes or inches you went down instead. Never put too much importance on your body weight. After all, what use is a number on the scale if you still cannot fit into your old jeans?
It’s also important to realize that when you work out, you could gain weight in the form of muscle. To give you an idea, muscle weights 2.5 times more than fat and takes up much less space. Plus, the more muscle you have, the more fat will be reduced. This is why men typically have an easier time losing weight than women. So, in this case, weight gain is a GOOD thing.
Just to give you a first hand example of what a big misunderstanding this whole topic is, I once worked with a client who was told be a nutritional“expert” NOT to exercise, so as to avoid “gaining weight”. Obviously, this nutritional “expert” was far from “expert” on how fat loss works.
Ultimately, the best way to “lose weight” is to have the right diet (such as the 2×1 Diet), backed by a good exercise routine. But most importantly, FORGET ABOUT THE WEIGHT. Watch your clothing size or take measurements. And if you get stressed by weighing yourself, put your scale away!
Frank Suárez,Obesity and Metabolism Specialist