The Reality of Fitness and our Expectations

I’ve talked a lot about weight loss in recent articles, eating plans, and working out. I’ve also stressed the importance of training as a mindset and lifestyle and how it impacts your results. I run my own fitness company, helping people lose weight and build the body they want is something I deal with everyday. Part of that responsibility is coaching them to recognize the reality of the real world versus their expectations. It breaks my heart to see the frustration on their faces when they kill themselves all week only to go to the scale and see that the number there hasn’t changed. So many of us place so much importance on a number and let it derail us and deflate us. Here’s the reality of it; that number doesn’t mean anything. It has no power beyond what you give it.


How much we weigh is an important gauge of our overall fitness but it is not the end all and be all of our goals. As a man I have had to learn and accept first hand that to achieve the level of strength and stamina I want I will weigh more than I had originally planned. Were I to base my progress along this path on the number on my scale I’d be in bad shape. Despite my rapidly thinning waistline, emerging abdominals and increased muscle definition my weight has climbed by ten pounds the last two months.


I train my girlfriend several times a week. In the months since we first met I have watched the weight fall off her body like snow off a mountain revealing the rock beneath. Her clothes no longer fit and as the weeks progress into the New Year it will only get worse. Soon she will have to restock her whole wardrobe and clean out the closet. I see the results with my own to eyes and my happiness for her and the success she is having knows no bounds but even still the numbers she sees on the scale deflate her every time.


Committing to health and fitness is a choice not to be taken lightly. It requires a level of dedication and drive that many just do not understand. Faced with the challenge ahead too many of us on this path are allowing the media, advertising, and years of conditioning to play mind games with our expectations. We know the reality in our hearts; muscle weighs more than fat, but we still base our progress on outdated models and standards of thin that are not only unrealistic but no longer relevant.


I participate in Obstacle Racing, namely the Spartan Race series. Like many men in these races I look to the movie 300 as my source of inspiration and in some ways a guideline for what I want to be like physically as well as mentally. How much do you think Gerard Butler weighed when he filmed that movie? I’ll tell you right now it’s a lot more than you think. The lightest thinnest man in that cast of Spartan warriors tipped the scales at over 180lbs. It’s a simple formula folks; muscle makes power and muscle is heavy. I know many man can accept this, and point of fact if it meant we had a chiseled six-pack we probably wouldn’t care how much we weighed. It’s not the same story for women though.


The best advice I can give the women who are looking to lose weight is this. You must divorce your outcome and goals from the number on the scale at least for the first few weeks of your training. In fact put that thing away. Here is the reality of your situation. You will gain weight to lose it. Muscle burns fat for energy but you must first build enough to consume the fat you have stored already before you can see a difference on the scale that lasts. Cleansing diets and programs will dump a ton of weight quickly right from the start. It’s mostly water though, and sadly muscle tissue that you are losing. Lasting fitness and permanent change comes only from working out regularly and a balanced all-inclusive smart diet. Programs that delete specific food groups in any way are flawed from the start. Moderation is discipline and discipline sees results that last.


Let me address a few differences in reality versus expectations. Fit athletes weigh more than we think. Ever looked at a football player? Even the shortest smallest guys outweigh the average man. Muscle weighs more than fat but takes up less space. A muscular women can be the same size as one 20 pounds lighter than her. Her body will burn more fat at rest and operate more efficiently than her thinner counterpart who does not workout. Sit-ups and crunches do not reveal abs. You must lower your total body fat percentage to do so. You cannot specifically target certain areas of your body for fat loss it is a physical impossibility outside of liposuction.


You will gain weight even though you are getting thinner when you first begin a strength based exercise program. However after a few weeks your body will reach a tipping point in which the amount of body fat you are burning for fuel will outpace the amount of muscle you are adding and your weight will plummet. Lifting weights will not make women huge and manly looking. It will however round out your shape, and give you defined sexy legs, a tight firm butt, and sleek shoulders. It will also put your metabolism in an elevated level of caloric burn that lasts up to 48 hours after your workout stops. Cardio stops burning calories the moment you stop working out. Too many women in America have flat rear ends, why you ask well it’s because they don’t do anything to build up the muscles that make this area.


Over the weekend I will be working with Legion Fitness to put together a program for people who are serious about losing weight and getting in shape. You will not need to go to a gym or drop a ton of money on iron at the sporting goods store. In fact you won’t need any weights to do this though some dumbbells will certainly help increase your results as you move along. We will include an eating plan complete with recipes and cooking tips along with a detailed workout guide and routine to follow along with everyday. I promise you this, if you’re ready to make permanent changes in the quality of your life and health this program is for you.


It’s time to un-chain yourself from the scale and wacky diets. It’s time to discover what real fitness and strength are.

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