A question that I get asked the most as a fitness trainer is "how do I lose weight?" Answering this question can be challenging, because the simple answer isn't so simple in delivering. However, if you are looking for the [simple generic answer] then I suppose "choose healthier nutritious real-foods and be in a calorie deficit" will suffice.
I'm a certified fitness professional in exercise and nutrition so I often times find it my responsibility to share a well-thought out answer to people who ask this question. Whether it's one of my clients, friends, or someone who randomly asked me this question [in all it's forms] at the grocery store, I feel like I need to answer this question thoughtfully.
Let's start with addressing the words "weight loss" in the question. I'm not too fond of those words, because I feel like it's part of a marketting scheme to deceive society who is struggling with body fat. Instead, "fat loss" is more appropriate, since it is the goal that is intended. Words have meaning and words are powerful. Words can change our thought process.
An appropriate and intended question would be "how do I decrease my body fat?" Recognize the answer to that question is not a "one size fits all" answer. Every body (yes...every human body) is different, because we all have different muscle imbalances. Although we move in the same basic patterns, we activate our muscles differently due to living a diverse life from our daily activities. Some people work in an office and are sedintsry most of the working hours and others can be up and about working at a warehouse.
Generally, we all move in the sagittal plane (forward/backward), frontal plane (side-to-side), and transverse plane (rotating at the hips and shoulders - - ball and socket). With that knowledge in mind we also have 7 (seven) common movement patterns:
Why am I writing you all this when it seemingly has nothing to do with fat loss. Well, the answer is - - our body's tend to be adaptable and will find the most sufficient way to keep you alive while only using the amount energy necessary to keep all systems running. Hear me out...your body will do whatever it needs to do to accomplish your movement goals even if it will cause you discomfort from muscle imbalance in the long run.
Tight muscles occur due to muscle imbalance, meaning a prime mover (larger skeletal muscles) may not be activating properly causing a synergistic muscle (helper muscle) to perform the movement, all while stabilizer muscles help support the movement.
For example, the office worker's hip flexors (front of the body) will be tight since it's constantly at a shortened state from sitting and his or her hip extensors (back of the body) will held in lengthened state. When the office worker gets up to walk around tight muscles will cause the activation of other muscle to fire versus the correct muscles, thus causing muscle imbalance. Think of this as a push/pull relationship. When it comes to our body, with muscles on our front and back, if one muscle is shortened that means another muscle will lengthen (front and back). Let's give you a better understanding. Try this:
Take your arm out to the side and fully extend it with your hand opened, thumb pointed to the ceiling and pinky towards the floor. Notice the tricep muscle (back upper arm muscle between the shoulder elbow) is in a shortened state and the muscle in front of it [bicep] is in a lengthened state. Now make a fist and curl your arm and activate your bicep as if you are showing off your muscle size. The bicep is now in a shortened state and the tricep is in a lengthened state. Regardless, muscles over time will experience fatigue whether lengthened or shortened unless we are completely supported. That's why we sleep best laying down.
Getting back to the example of the office worker, who remains seated for long periods of time and is experiencing hip discomfort. His or her body will experience muscle imbalance as this is true for anyone. Muscle imbalance will inevitably occur due to repititive movement and with that we will develop habits in our movement. No matter what is causing the muscular discomfort the body will still find a way to move your body in the way you want it to.
Since our bodies are great at adapting to whatever environment we put it through, we must workout in movement patterns to give our bodies a different experience so we can burn the most calories by getting muscles to activate and work together. The more muscles that are properly firing means the more calories we burn. The more calories we burn mean the more fat we can lose. So in a sense, the more we can optimize our body's function and everything else will fall into place.
I'm sure some of you reading this are feeling a bit overwhelmed with this information and I totally understand if this seems like a lot to take in. I promise there is a point to this and it will tie in with learning how to decrease body fat. It seems far out left field, but it is related to decreasing body fat and keeping it off. Besides, we want to learn to keep the fat off not just simply putting in the hard work just to have it back on and repeating the process.
Coming up with a well-thought out beneficial fitness plan at times does seem like being stuck in the middle of the ocean floating with no reference point. However, don't be discouraged. Even with a little bit more of an understanding will help guide you in your journey. As we continue this journey together in this blog series, I will explain more and you should have a pretty good understanding of fitness and how it can be applied in exercise and nutrition.
In my next blog post I will continue with Part 2 of this series and it will seem more related to decreasing fat loss. Stay tuned!!
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First name: Herman
Last name: Fracker
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