A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about weight loss. At the end of it, I mentioned an upcoming post featuring Lisa Dutchak, personal trainer at Strength in Balance Fitness. This is that post.
I spend a good bit of time on various health and fitness forums, and there are a lot of opinions about the best way to lose weight, build muscle, etc. and I wanted to talk with Lisa about maybe discussing some of the more frequently posted topics. As I mentioned in my weight loss post, what works for some doesn’t work for all, and I think it’s a matter of trial and error to find what works for you. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.
So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Lisa, my friend and go-to person for all things fitness, nutrition, and lifting…
Me: What inspired you to become a personal trainer?
LD: After really beginning to educate myself during my weight loss and body recomposition journey, I realized that I had been doing it wrong for so long….and that so many other women are doing the same things that I had done time and time again. It was through this education and experience that I really developed a passion for health and fitness and since I have always wanted to do something where I could help people, becoming a trainer just really seemed like a natural fit. The idea of being able to make even one person feel the way I do now is just so rewarding.
Me: A lot of women will tell me that they want to lose all their weight before they attempt to lift heavy. What are the benefits of lifting weights when someone still has a lot of weight to lose?
LD: Ah there are so many! First and foremost, from an overall health perspective, strength training is great for your bones and joints. As women, it’s a great way to reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Working with weights while losing weight helps you to retain the muscle you already have so that the weight you are losing is primarily fat. This helps to keep a nice shape to the body. Muscle also burns more calories at rest than fat does (not a load more, but any bit helps!) so overall your body is expending more calories which is never a bad thing. Strength training also helps to improve day to day activities. If you have small children, you will find it’s easier to carry them around or lift them up. If you have pets, you will find that carrying those large bags of pet food is much easier. Even things like regular house cleaning gets easier because you are stronger and more fit.
Me: 30-Day Challenges are very popular right now. What are your thoughts on working the same muscle group three days on, one day off for the duration of the challenge?
LD: If a 30-Day Challenge is what gets a person from being sedentary to being somewhat active, then I’m all for it. I don’t think that these challenges will give an individual the types of results they may be looking for or are thinking are possible due to claims made about the challenge, though. In my opinion, the appeal of these challenges is that they are straight forward and not time consuming. Most people are under the assumption that regular exercise and activity must take hours upon hours every day of the week and that’s simply not true. There are many ways that you can become active without leaving your home. More is not necessarily better.
Me: Many women are intimidated by weight lifting because they worry they will get bulky and manly. Can you explain why this is such a difficult look to achieve, and that women really don’t need to worry about “accidentally” getting bulky?
LD: Simply put, it’s just not possible. First of all, women just do not have the testosterone needed to get “bulky.” Secondly, in order for the body to produce new muscle tissue, there must be enough calories available to use for new muscle tissue generation. This means that an individual must be eating well above their maintenance calories (the amount of calories one needs to consume to maintain their current body weight). Individuals that are looking to achieve that “bodybuilder” look train in a way that is conducive to that look. They eat for it and they train for it and often times they supplement for it. Even for men, it can take years to achieve that look. It will not ever just “accidentally” happen to a woman.
Me: Proper nutrition is very important component of weight loss. Another popular trend is near elimination of various food groups, either for a set amount of time short term, or for the long haul. Why do you think certain foods are “demonized” and why is this an unhealthy way to look at food?
LD: The media plays a big role in the demonization of food groups. The health and fitness industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry and due to that there is always some new bandwagon to jump on. The fact of the matter is that there is no one food group that is bad for you. Protein, carbs, and fat all play critical roles in the way the body functions. Besides legitimately diagnosed medical conditions, there is no reason to ever eliminate a food group from your diet.
Me: While we’re on the subject of food, what are your thoughts on VLCD’s (very low calorie diets)?
LD: The fact is that VLCD’s do give fast results. Do I support them? No. I have done the 1200 calorie/day diet and have known many people that have and the end result always tends to be the same: we gain the weight back. Why? Because in real, day to day life, a VLCD is just simply not sustainable. Sure, it can be successful for a period of time, but then the individual starts to feel deprived and binges and then that binge turns into 2 days, 1 week, 1 month, and before you know it, the weight that was lost is back. By adopting a more long term, lifestyle driven approach and creating a moderate deficit a person will not only lose weight, but will do so in a way that still allows most of the foods that they love. This way they rarely feel like they are giving things up. The individual is able to learn healthier eating habits and strategies and set themselves up for long term success, rather than an ongoing roller coaster ride.
Me: Oftentimes, individuals embarking on a reduced calorie diet and a new workout regimen become frustrated when the scale doesn’t move, or worse yet, moves up, rather than down. What causes this?
LD: If a reduced calorie diet and a new workout regime are started at the same time there is a good possibility that any losses could be masked by water and/or glycogen in the muscles; essentially fluid retention. This can last a few weeks so it’s certainly nothing to be alarmed about. If after a few weeks the scale is still not moving, then it’s time to take a closer look at both the diet and exercise plans.
Me: Five words: muscle weighs more than fat. Your thoughts? (And let me just say this one drives me nuts 🙂 )
LD: One pound of muscle and one pound of fat weigh the same…..one pound. The difference is that one pound of muscle takes up much less space than one pound of fat; it’s the volume that is different, not the actual weight.
Me: What advice would you give a woman that says she is too busy/doesn’t have time, but wants to lose some weight and get healthier?
LD: First of all, weight loss can be achieved through a caloric deficit alone. However, being active is imperative for overall health, plus often it does allow for a slightly higher caloric intake. There are many ways to be active that don’t have to include going to a public gym. There are effective workouts that can be done anywhere and at any time. Also, an effective workout is not determined by the amount of time spent exercising, but rather the effectiveness of the workout. Doing something is always better than doing nothing! It’s important to make lifestyle changes that are realistic and that fit within your lifestyle. This is where the advice of a coach or trainer can really prove invaluable. There are many professionals out there that will work with you to determine realistic goals, programming, and nutritional habits that fit your life. And lastly, you are important and you deserve time for yourself! Making healthy lifestyle changes set a great example for everyone around you: your kids, spouse, siblings, family, friends, and colleagues.
So there we have it! Some no-nonsense, straight-forward answers from a knowledgeable, certified personal trainer.
I hope that this helps to clear up some of the misconceptions about weight loss, strength training, and nutrition.
Until next time…
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Thank you, ma’am! 🙂