We’re 7.5 weeks out. I’m down 16 pounds so far from where I originally started in early January, and we’re trying to slow it down at this point so that we don’t lose any more muscle. My coach has it all planned out and it’s going great! Or as well as not eating grilled cheese and fudge for every meal can possibly go.
My store sells weight management and sports nutrition supplements, and doles out advice to all who enter. I also have been a trainer for years and get asked questions regularly outside of work. Or over text. Or on Facebook. Or from people pretending to make friends with me in exchange for free advice on how to lose weight, if it’s not too much trouble! Here you go, folks. I’m going to save you (and me) some hassle and debunk the most annoying and most commonly asked questions that are just wrong… so just stop.
1. I don’t really want to lose any weight! I just want to tone up!
False. You just don’t know what you want. “Toning up” involves losing body fat, and gaining muscle. You will have to clean up your diet and work out more. You can’t go to the gym twice a week and see results. You can’t cardio this one out. You need to eat less shit and eat more whole natural foods. And lift weights. You can run until your feet fall off and never have a firm, round booty. You’re gonna have to squat for that. I don’t care if it’s high rep, low weight, power-lifting, 5 sets of 5, or 3 sets of 10. Put a bar on your shoulders, add whatever weight you feel like you can handle with out looking stupid, and drop it drop it low, girl (or boy).
2. What supplements can I take that will make me lose weight/get stronger/bulk up/build muscle/just lose this right here.
Sweat. Hard work. Getting off your butt. Meal prepping. Supplements are designed to help amplify your results. Muscles are built as a result of torn or over-worked muscle fibers repairing themselves. Supplements can make that repairing process happen faster, but YOU have to work and break them down first. In the gym. 5-6 days a week. While draining your bank account eating all the protein and vegetables that you can afford. Steroids are the same story (don’t do steroids). Your work will show up faster, but there is no quick fix, just quicker fixes. The same goes for weight loss. If you diet when you’re taking fat burners and metabolism boosters, you will most likely see extra results (everyone’s different), but whereas you may have lost an eighth a pound that day, you may lose a quarter pound instead, with the aid of supplements. If you take a fat burner and eat a whole bag of chips, your body will still be burning more calories, but probably not enough for your scale to decrease. In fact, it may still increase. That bag of chips is 800-1000 calories, and you burned an extra 200 maybe. Plus salt and fast absorption carbs cause water retention and will make the scale go up regardless of calories consumed. You do the math. It’s not that the supplements don’t work. You’re the one not doing the work. <—I go through this about 10 times a day. I wish I could send a memo out with this information to all of Asheville, or just post it to the door.
3. I work out all the time, but I just can’t lose any weight!
You can’t outwork a bad diet. Your diet is the problem, I guarantee it. You may burn up to 600-700 calories in an hour long cardio work out! An hour of sweat and tears and boredom while watching Maury break up fights on the TV converts into about 1 piece of cake, 2.5 slices of cheese pizza, or one “healthy choice” on the Applebee’s menu. 1 pound of fat is 3500 calories. So, if you don’t over eat, with out any cheats, doing’ cardio for an hour a day, 4-5 DAYS LATER YOU WILL HAVE LOST ONE MEASLY POUND. So do yourself a favor and eat right.
4. Since I’ve been working out, I’ve gained weight, but that’s just muscle, right?
No. Again, it’s your diet. In a YEAR of lifting weights, taking tons of muscle-promoting supplements, eating 150 grams of protein a day, I’ve put on maybe 5-7 pounds of lean muscle. Men are different and can put on more, and it is more accelerated in the beginning, but you did not just gain 5 pounds of muscle in your first month of treadmill walking. What happened was that you justified eating more because you were working out, or you got hungrier because your metabolism is now working harder. It’s not a bad thing, but you have to find the tricks to working through it, like adding protein and fiber to your meals to keep you fuller longer. Ignore the voice in your head saying you need a post-work out muffin, or an Chicken-Strips-Have-Protein-In-Them-So-They’re-Cool-Right from Cookout. The craving will go away as soon as you put a protein shake, piece of baked chicken, or a bowl of quinoa for you vegetarians, into your body.
5. I eat pretty good, for the most part. Why am I not losing weight?
“For the most part” can mean anything that you want it to. Thousands of bad habits have been justified because, “for the most part,” they didn’t happen. Hitler was a good family man “for the most part.”
“For the most part” that tells me you have a cheat. Whether it’s once a day or twice a week, I bet that cheat is holding you back. Let me tell you about last weekend. I had lost a good amount of weight. Then I cheated. I mean, I meal prep every day, work out every day for an hour and a half of high intensity, drink all the water in the world, and don’t even look at cupcakes (for the most part.) And then I messed up… 1 night of drinking alcohol and eating junk set me back 5 POUNDS. Some of that was water, but the last 2 pounds came off just as slowly as any other pound of fat. I have a very healthy metabolism that responds well to healthy eating. But one cheat meal can break even the strongest of metabolisms. Most people trying to eat clean and lose fat shoot for one cheat meal a week. Keep it controlled and keep it to an hour of eating or less.
6. I just want to convert some of my fat to muscle.
Hahaha. Let me get my magical convergonator over to your fat cells to turn them into something completely biologically and functionally different! Oh, science. No. You want to lose fat and build muscle. TWO DIFFERENT THINGS THAT REQUIRE DIFFERENT PROCESSES.
7. I don’t lift weights because I don’t want to get bulky. (girls)
I’ve gone over this before. You won’t. If you get that “bulky” look, it’s body fat on top of your muscle. Lose body fat and you will be a lean, mean, non-bulky machine. Lifting doesn’t make you bulky. Cupcakes make you bulky.
8. I don’t want to get “too” big. (boys)
Don’t worry, you won’t. Jay Cutler didn’t wake up one morning after doing two days of bicep curls and walk on stage and win the Olympia. You will only look like a bodybuilder if you’re trying to look like a body builder. You have about… hm, maybe 15 years of steroids, hard lifting for four hours a day, and hard-core diet control before you look like that. So stop making excuses and just go lift.
9. I don’t want to eat a ton of protein because I’m not trying to gain weight.
If you eat protein, you will fuel your lean muscle, not your fat cells. And by lean muscle, I don’t mean your bulging biceps. I’m talking about the stuff that lays tight and smooth over your skeleton and gives that “toned” look you think you want. Fat and carbs are the culprit for fat stores! Eat TONS of protein and eat less fat and carbs if you want to lose weight!
10. I run every day for an hour (or more) and don’t lose any weight!
This is a tricky one, because collegiate runners are always thin, even though you won’t necessarily see their abs, and marathoners can have a gut that will bounce around the entirety of the 26.2 miles. But they’re burning thousands of calories extra a day! Why are they not all perfect bodies? Because 1) diet (we’ve been over this); 2) college athletes have a crazy metabolism, and don’t have money to eat 3 Golden Corrals a day; 3) running can actually damage your metabolism (and your knees). I looooove running. But It hurts my body too much to continue. I’m not going to tell you to quit running because that runner’s high is addictive and runners will shut down if you ever start talking about the damage it does to your body. But I can tell you that extended steady state cardio over an hour has been shown to send your body into “fasting mode” and cause your body to store fat rather than burn it. And what do we do as soon as we finish a 10 mile run? EAT ALL THE PIZZA AND COOKIES. Your body says thank you for letting it practice storing fat in case we ever face the zombie apocalypse. That much cardio in one sitting can also start burning up protein (aka muscle) as an energy source, rather than fats and carbs and have you losing your hard earned running muscles.
11. I just want to lose this little spot right here. (belly, butt, arm jiggle, thigh jiggle, love handles)
Too bad. You don’t get to pick where it comes off. However, when you lose body fat, it will come off of those places as well. But don’t expect to lose your belly and keep your boobs. Or lose your thighs and keep your voluptuous hips. Or keep your thick muscular arms, but lose your gut. It’s just not how it works. You can’t spot reduce. And doing sit ups doesn’t get you abs. Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym!
This is a before and after pic from 2012 (left) and last Saturday (right). My stomach just “toned up”! As in, I lost body fat and gained muscle. I weigh about the same weight in those photos. Muscle does still weigh more than fat!
Ok folks! I will write more “solutions” next time instead of just angrily ranting about common myths, but I hope that clears some things up!