Is Weight Loss Your Goal?
Many of us come to My Fitness Pal with the goal of "weight loss." We are sick and tired of what we look and feel like and we want to make a change. We want to make that number on the scale go DOWN. We want to get healthy.
Just to my right, on Recent Forum Topics, out of the five options, the top three have to do with weight: "Running for weight loss," "2013 Resolution led to dropping 180lbs," "One poor eating day - weight went up 3 pounds!" And right there we see the problem with focusing on scale weight. Anything can effect scale weight: the length of your hair, the food in your stomach, your shoes. However, I don't think one person on MFP needs to hear that they need to cut their hair and take off their shoes.
That's because, for most of us, our real goal isn't weight loss: it's fat loss. We're trying to get down to a healthy body fat percentage. That's an important distinction for many reasons, but one stands out in particular:muscle.
Having good muscle tone is the difference between looking good at your goal weight, and looking scrawny, lumpy and flabby. Many of the things you do now can affect that. Many of those things will also affect scale weight. One of the best things you can do to protect your muscle during a calorie deficit is to do any sort of progressive resistance training (body weight exercises, bands, weight lifting). This comes with a side effect: weight gain. Most people who start working out experience a temporary spike as their body stores more energy in their muscles and works to repair and build the muscle that was used. This is a GOOD thing, but can freak out people who are focused on scale weight.
Another thing you can do now to ensure good muscle tone is to lose weight moderately. For most people, losing more than a pound a week (500 calorie deficit a day) is going to cause more than fat loss: your body is going to start breaking down your muscles. Over two pounds a week and your body will feed off bones and organs too. Yes, a greater calorie reduction will cause you to lose weight faster. But where is that loss coming from? And is it making you more or less healthy?
Being smart about your goals, and the steps you take to reach them, will make all the difference in how you look and feel at your goal weight and will support your long term health as well.