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How to lose weight the SMART way

April 19, 2008

Sheesh! What a week! I was pretty proud of my time management abilities that enabled me to post about once a day…and then here it’s been 4 days since my last post. Well, work has been extremely busy. We’ve been busy doing some strategic planning with our Board – so the last minute tweaks and additions put their toll on me. The outcome was great as of yesterday, so I’m back in the saddle for now.

Well, I’m happy to report that my weight loss goals are intact and still moving forward. I have continued to drop the weight I would like at a marginal rate as intended. Any faster and I would lose muscle. Does that make any sense to some of you? On this I choose to dwell.

When some people go on a weight loss plan, the simple goal is to lose weight at all costs. I suppose that is why they call it weight loss, though. What also should be mentioned is that as you exercise and eat healthier, it IS important to watch your calories. If you drop too much, like more than 3 lbs. per week, there is a good chance that you will lose needed muscle mass. And muscle, when used in exercise form, helps move the body so you can burn fat. If too much muscle is lost, then you could short circuit your plans to burn fat and not even know it.

I’ve heard it mentioned that for very obese individuals, dropping too quickly can result in flabby skin, etc. I’m not enough of an expert to comment on that. Many times the morbidly obese have flat out just stretched their skin and the only way to remove it would be surgically. But what I do know is that it’s much more worth it lose the weight and show the muscle underneath than not.

There are various body types – each individual is genetically encoded with one. Some people are naturally thin, some are up the middle, and some, like many athletes – are blessed with the ability to build muscle naturally. Me, I’m of the thinner variety. At obese stages, I’d be what you could call a “Skinny-Fat.” So when I lose weight, my goal is to do it a little slower than most would like, but I want to retain my muscle.

When you step on the scale, you always want to see progress from week to week. Too much weight loss could be harmful and I suspect the individuals you see on “Biggest Loser” have medical professionals close by to monitor progress and ensure they are OK to proceed. For sure, one thing they are using are invaluable objects called body fat calipers. These calipers can measure various sites on the body and measure the fat. By entering the measurements into a formula it will then tell you your body fat percentage (and muscle mass in theory). Multiply your weight by (1-bodyfat %) to get your muscle mass. If you see that number dropped significantly, then you know you’re dropping weight too quickly and impacting your muscle.

For example, let’s say you weight 250 lbs. and you have 33% bodyfat. That would mean you have almost 83 lbs. of fat on you and 167 lbs. of muscle. Now if you lose 20 lbs. and your bodyfat is now at 29%, then you would weigh 230 lbs, have 67 lbs. of fat and 163 lbs. of muscle. So you lost 16 lbs. of fat, but 4 lbs. of muscle. Some muscle mass loss is to be expected, so that’s not bad. Now, if your bodyfat had not dropped much from 33% while your weight went down, then it would be even more evident that you’ve lost muscle and not much fat. Below 29% bodyfat and you’ll be losing more fat and less muscle. By using the calipers you know how much FAT you’re losing and that is the goal. There are many calipers on the market – just Google away and you’ll find many brands. I would suggest using a brand that advocates using at least 3 sites from your body. Any less and the findings could be inaccurate. Some scales these days have a body fat calculator on them, but they are not as accurate as using calipers.

Now, get out there – eat right and run to the car from the mall next time instead of walk. Every little bit helps.

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