By Sean P. the Trainer
Eat well and exercise daily. Simple, right? Pretty much. It is no secret that if you ate better and exercised more that you will lose weight. If you are consistent, then you will continue to lose the weight you want. However, the number one reason why many fail is because they are not setting realistic goals and expectations.
I worked with Todd for 6 months doing personal training. He lost 60 lbs. and has since been able to continue his health goal to get down to 190 lbs. What is my secret? I assessed his body composition (insert link to book test to fit lab). This was important for several reasons.
1) We were able to determine his body fat percentage (a ratio between his lean mass vs. fat mass). Most people are focused on dropping the weight on the scale. As important as that may be, assessing your lean mass to fat mass ratio will help you to know if even dropping down to the desired weight is even be achievable. (Note: Anything is achievable but is it sustainable?)
2) Based off his body fat mass, we were able to develop goals. The short-term goal was to lose 8-10 lbs. of fat mass per month. The long-term goal was to lose 60 lbs. in 6 months. Todd weighed in at 280 lbs. with a 33% body fat. The ideal healthy body fat percentage for men across the board is 15%, Todd would need to lose exactly 60 lbs. of fat mass. This is a very achievable goal but how long would it take? There are formulations to compute how to lose weight in a safe method, which I will write in another article.
3) Developing an appropriate exercise program based on the body composition results. Because Todd was obese it was important that he moved. However, due to a history of injuries and fear of getting injured, I could not just jump him into a high caloric expenditure workout. I focused on fundamental strength training and 30-minute light intensity walks or paddles on the days for additional caloric expenditure. We eventually progressed to higher intensity workouts when he lost his first 40 lbs.
4) Developing an ideal nutrition plan based on the body composition results. This is probably the most important reason. Why? Because most people would have assumed in order to lose weight you need to starve at a 1200 -1500 calorie diet. To some extent it is true, but it is also the reason why people end up not being able to stay consistent. Based off Todd’s body composition, goals, and exercise program, he was actually eating along the lines of 2200 to 3200 calories per day. Some days more than others, because let’s be real, Todd is human, and enjoys human things such as drinking and eating sweets. However, the nutrition plan takes that into account. Here’s some food for thought. If you are unable to follow your program on a day-to-day/week-to-week, it’s probably not the program you should be following. Consistency is key.
Now is it possible to get to your goals without measuring your body composition? Absolutely!
Making subtle lifestyle changes can make the most dramatic effect. If you don’t workout, start by walking 30 minutes a day. If you drink six beers or need to eat cake, drink three beers and only eat one slice. However, if you find yourself hitting a plateau with your weight or unable to stick to your program, there is a good chance you are probably not setting realistic expectations. The best and easiest way to learn is to measure your body composition.
“Not just training, its personal”
Sean Pangelinan, BSkin, CPT, FNS
Sean P. the Trainer
Former Olympic Canoer and owner of The Fit Lab