As you may remember I was participating in an 8 week Body Fat Challenge with my training partner, ‘Wayne’. I was being quite consistent updating the blog with our progress in the challenge (good on me) until Week 6 where I suddenly dropped off the radar. I’m sorry, the tail end of the challenge coincided with hubby returning to a stint of reverse FIFO work. Yes we moved to Panna to stop the FIFO lifestyle but somehow we are now living remote and hubby is flying to Perth for work?? Anyway…..the end of the challenge also coincided with 2 study courses that were due around the same time so I was sick of being on the computer. We did still finish the challenge in style and I will give you a quick run down of the results and all the take home tips that you need to know if you are trying to lose some body fat.
Drum roll please…..from a starting cast of approximately 50 people ‘Wayne’ placed second overall in this challenge. Wahooo – fantastic effort!! More importantly I think she now believes in her ability to improve her health and fitness. I think she has made changes that will stick, and I think she may even enjoy her new love of the gym!!
When we have a final look at the numbers you will see that for both of us our weight loss is similar to our % body fat lost which is a good thing. This means that we can probably assume that the weight we did lose was actually fat and not muscle. You will often see large weight loss results with smaller % body fat losses as a result of high levels of aerobic training and a significant cut in calories. This is great for short term success on the scales but is very difficult to maintain over the long term. Muscle is very hard to gain but has so many benefits for weight loss, injury prevention, and general health that we don’t want to lose it.
Even though my numbers weren’t huge, it is still progress that I am proud of. I would love to know how many people dropped out of the challenge by the end of the eight weeks as weight loss is a difficult thing to commit to. To help you out I thought I would put together a list of my top tips for sustainable fat loss.
1. Find a Training Partner
Just trust me on this one. Don’t worry about what sex they are, how strong they are, or what shape they are in. You just want to know that they will turn up regularly, have a laugh with you, and that they are willing to get a little sweaty and pull a few of these faces…
2. Set some goals that are NOT related to weight loss.
Numbers on a scale are too fickle to be all that you rely on to tell your story and give that all important positive feedback that keeps us going. By all means track your progress but don’t stress about the weekly numbers too much. Choose something that you enjoy doing. Your goals may be to run 3km, climb a mountain, bench press your body weight, or something crazy like complete an Adventurethon!! Dream them and make them happen……then dream some more.
3. Build Muscle
This is one of the most beneficial things you can do for lifelong health. To build muscle you need to lift a load that your body can’t quite cope with, forcing it to recruit more muscle fibres to get the job done. For those new to lifting I would be aiming to find a weight that you can only just complete 10-12 repetitions. Aim for 3 sets initially and remember that you may not finish 12 reps every set. If you are hitting 15 reps the weight is too light. If you have been strength training for a while then mix up the number of sets. You might want to try heavier weights, completing 5-6 reps only and doing 8 sets of this. Variety is the spice of life, so mix it up. Try drop sets, super sets, eccentric loading, isometric contractions……the choices are endless.
A note to the women – if another female tells me that she doesn’t want to ‘bulk up’ just ‘tone’, I will seriously headbutt them!! Toning is building muscle! Often that initial feeling that you are ‘bulking up’ is because you may still be carrying extra fat whether because the diet hasn’t changed or your body hasn’t had the chance to burn through the fat stores. Give it time. If in 12 weeks you aren’t convinced that you are feeling the best you have ever felt, then stop doing it. You will lose that muscle pretty quickly.
4. Stop Eating Crap.
How well you eat will determine how quickly you achieve your results. It is easy to think that you have to be on some special diet to lose weight. The media loves to create hype around certain magic weight loss diets and push all these ‘superfoods’ at us. The truth is if we just made small commitments to eating a healthier diet the results will still come, we would just have to be more patient. You know, like a lifestyle change, not an 8 week challenge.
5. Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Research shows that strength training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) appear to be the most effective ways to lose weight and keep it off. Don’t try and do too much. I am a chronic over exerciser. I love to exercise and challenge myself, but the trouble with this is that I do a lot of different training without much of a plan to it. I love the variety and I enjoy it but it is very difficult to get a handle on what you really need to be eating to satisfy your energy needs when you are exercising like a crazy person and varying it day to day! From experience, my best success with weight loss is usually when I keep my routine based on strength training. Generally, I am aim for 4-5 x 45 minute strength sessions a week. I often throw in optional extras such as a short HIIT session, a jog, and/or a mountain bike ride if my week allows and I am done. Simple. Effective. Realistic.
What have you found to be most effective for your weight loss or health goals?